On 6th August last year I had an enquiry from a young aspiring producer to do the DipCP with the CGO Institute. Liam McIntosh had not been to University or grown up in a theatre based family, but his knowledge of theatre and his love for Musical Theatre and the gentle art of Pantomime was amazing. On November 2nd he joined the 16 week programme and graduated in February with 8 producing colleagues. Yesterday I met him for a coffee back at the Blackness village pub where he works whilst preparing for his first professional productions.
This week, in London, Nica Burns and Nimax offered the first West End opportunities to attendees on my previous MA Creative producing programme at Mountview, like Jamie Chapman Dixon and Piers Cottee Jones, alongside drivers of new projects like Katie Lipson. Nica is offering a beacon of light and a clear pathway for Liam and other aspirational young producers in a few years to follow the 23 Rising Stars of today. She is making available a tightly controlled commercial risk managed opportunity for new shows and new talent. The British Theatre industry is rightly celebrating all that Nica, and her colleague Laurence Miller, have been doing to reopen the West End.
Liam kindly gave me a reflection on the course after he graduated: “I was always a little bit of a skeptic on why doing the course would benefit me and my career progression, Looking back I didn’t have a thing to doubt, not only did the CGO DipCP help grow and build my skill set up but it opened a world of contacts, collaborations and interest which you really couldn’t have got otherwise. From having a mentor who has produced some of London’s biggest Musicals to having the support of some truly wonderful faculty I suddenly was in contact and conversations with the key players in my field of Commercial Musical Theatre. From New York, Australia, Asia and London… no where was off limits. You suddenly discover you’re in a world of support and happiness and you feel safe launching a career with the support of Chris and all of the faculty by your side. One month on from the course coming to a close, I am now about to launch my own company, with plans for productions in London, UK and I have international conversations beginning, all of which would never have been possible if I didn’t take that step and join the CGO Institute”
In catching up with him yesterday I was staggered by what he has achieved in a 9 week (!!) career since graduating with his DipCP. He is indeed in discussions for the rights in three different shows. He has a workshop of a new piece in preparation in London for October. He has already spoken with almost every name I suggested could be useful/supportive at this time. He has made what feel like lifetime friendships with his fellow course members. He is playing an active role in developing a collaborative network for aspiring producers.
He seemed undaunted by the challenge of raising finance to make commercial projects happen which will enable him to get his feet under the table on some pretty big projects. And he tells me proudly that he has learned how to say ‘no’ to projects – and is therefore honing his own tastes and judgement. I am sure The Lobster Pot team and its customers don’t quite get what Liam is working on in his time off, when not serving pints, coffees and delicious meals to the walkers, locals and visitors. I have every confidence they will be mighty proud of him in time.
He will have knocks, he will be overwhelmed by juggling so many potential ideas, he will even pick some losers I am sure, but he is building a really good array of supportive wise folk around him who are used to hard and good times too.
For others on the course it is a slower pathway. The completing of funding applications can be soul sapping, but is essential to get many projects off the ground. As the world wakes up the arts are still in a semi-coma and many businesses are on the verge of collapse, or tightening their belts drastically. It is tough to be applying for jobs and starting in the business. But I am inspired by the self motivation being shown and the steps which many are already taking on their professional careers.
But for today, I wanted to focus on one young lad from Bo’Ness Academy who was inspired at school to make theatre in and for his community. He is now channelling his inner determination to make deals with some of the biggest brightest commercial players in the UK and US theatre scene. I will enjoy having regular catch ups with him, and hopefully being at many first nights in the coming years.
If you read this and know of anyone who deserves the opportunity which the DipCP can offer, then do pass the word along. The current cohort together with the recent graduates number 17 producers from 7 countries. The course is zoom based and designed to balance with other real lives/work. There are full details here and I am running a series of 2hr workshops about pathways into the business under the banner “Producing – Proper Job – Honest” this month. Full details here