A time for invention

On Monday 6 aspiring producers join me for the third run of the Diploma in Creative Producing since we began the CGO Institute at the start of lockdown in early 2020. They will be inspired by producers and creatives to be inventive, to think wider, to rise to the challenge to change the world one show at a time. That world could be the world view of a single child enchanted and inspired by what they create, or that world could be the way we all see an aspect of our political, ecological or social disharmonious lives. Whatever each of the 6 choose to do will need support, encouragement and collaboration. Over 16 weeks we will try to help set some of that in play for them.

It is also a time for invention for me. It has been 6 years developing Producers’ Pool (UK and International), first as an albeit London-centric growing mailing list of producers, then as a zoom world for producers to meet from around the world monthly during lockdown. This week we started the idea of Producers’ Pool (NY and beyond). New York producer Meghan Schadler and I hosted a producers from the UK and USA to explore differences and similarities in our world and industry across the pond. We each take our own arts structure for granted sometimes. It is good to be asked to explain and consider the systems in place to research, develop, and make new work. The grass may appear greener on the other side, but our grass is greener from their perspective too.

We had hoped to do an on-the-ground (in the flesh) and in the cloud meeting, as we did for Musical Theatre producers last month in Dundee and on Zoom. However our host venue pulled on us at the last minute with a flooded space, and so we all gathered on Zoom. My favourite response from a Brit on the call “I’ve never been in a room with so many producers”. Result.

And this is just the start. There were a lovely mix of Broadway producers, EdFringe and regional producers, explorers of theatre in VR or in schools. All scales were present and many challenges were shared. I can’t wait to see how we develop this support network in parallel to our list of 700 producers and programmers in the UK. It will take time to grow, but it will be there for the next generation of producers as they ‘graduate’ from CGO Institute or other courses. It will be there for those who print business card and start their own companies. And it will be there for those who work as producers and programmers in buildings and year round producing organisations who want to meet like minded folk across the pond.

I keep saying I have one more invention in me before I settle into the hammock in the sun (Oh I wish). 4 months ago I pitched a new idea to Creative Scotland. It got a great review from the officer who assessed the application, matched a priority they had set some years ago, but sadly was rejected by the funding panel. When that happens to anyone else I always say that they must resubmit, and I am trying to get the energy to take my own advice. But I may, instead, take the idea and launch it on a different stage. I am exploring brand names at the moment (without going off to Meta consultants), and writing a brief for a CRM programming specialist.

On Dec 1st I am co-hosting an event for UK and International producers and directors in London and on Zoom. That may be the perfect time to make the announcement. The meeting will have representatives from Stage Directors (UK), BECTU the union for backstage and management in theatre, ITC the Independent Theatre Council management union for small companies and freelance theatremakers, and of course Producers’ Pool. The idea could have been focussed on Scotland only to start, but I think it may be just as easy to start global. Watch this space as I keep playing around with this latest invention.

On Monday the 6 producers gather to start their 16 weeks, and I will be able to ask their advice on this project. It is joyful to watch the journeys that the next generation of producers make and to see how Producers’ Pool, the DipCP and this new idea can help them. (I can’t believe I’m saying this but we already have applications for the 4th course starting April 2022. Anyone interested in knowing more just email me. chris [at] chrisgrady [dot] org)

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