Producing – Proper Job – Honest / Employers of the future

Where would the arts and entertainment industry be without employers who make projects and businesses run, and without programmers who seek out and fashion the array of works which we see in our theatres and festivals around the world.  Without producers and programmers everyone would be reliant on their own endeavours to be self-producing artists or companies of creatives.  In the old days the person may have been called Administrator or General Manager. Now whatever the title they have a creative role to play in giving life to ideas.  And they leave more time for directors and artists to be in the rehearsal room and away from the desk too.

Professor Levan Khetaguri, Director of the Arts Research Institute in Tblisi, Georgia described the producer/programmer perfectly in a conversation with me this week as “the key mediator between creation and the public” . And this week Kerry Kyriacos Michael MBE explored five facets of the producer with our CGO Institute class for the Diploma in Creative Producing – The enabler of others; the changemaker of the world/society; the money focussed producer; the producer who wants to be with creative people; and the creative being who wants their vision realised as the artist they are or aspire to be.  A good producer/programmer will have facets of 2-3 maybe even 4 of these.

But for many aspiring producers at the moment it is about getting a job, getting started, or getting their first project off the ground post-covid.  The established producers are learning the unpleasant art of “unproducing” – a skill many have been perfecting over 2 years. It is exhausting and demoralising.  But don’t worry there are new producers out there ready to help carry some of the burden, they are also experienced at pivotting and unproducing, and they are ready to make art and make work which excites a new audience.

Each month I run an open access 2hr workshop on Zoom called “Producing – Proper Job – Honest” which seeks to help aspiring and emerging producers to navigate their pathway to be able to create and bring work to an audience. We look at the pathways students of the art of producing can take, and we explore the many job titles and ways in which someone can start to be a producer.  The next workshop is Mon 24th Jan 4-6pm

To current employers out there I have two requests–

  1. Give this fresh talent a chance. They are energised with a passion to “make stuff happen” and all those who I have had the pleasure to coach, facilitate or teach over covid via Producers’ Pool and the CGO Institute DipCP are itching to take their share of the burden of responsibility to make work and find an audience for that work. 
  2. Listen to them, meet them, and if you eventually choose to reject them for a job or opportunity Please give clear and constructive feedback. One producer said to me recently: “when companies say “we went with someone with more experience” – it is useful to specify what experience they had that tipped the scales – it would give me something to focus on.”

I have been saddened to see that some of our important regularly funded/national portfolio companies are not offering the kind of recruitment process which is best for themselves and for those who apply. 

Look Ahead for a moment. Please treat each new applicant as a potential asset for the future, whether you can give them a job or not.  In a few years’ time they may be producing a show or programming a festival that you would give your eye teeth to be a part of. Or they may be your next Board member seeking to relook at how the organisation is run. They are the future of theatre and each individual deserves care – especially at this most difficult of time.

May I add that I’m also getting feedback that some companies are handling their recruitment process with immense care and diligence. Sometimes even a rejection will put a positive light on the management processes of that organisation which will be remembered by those producers of the future.

I still have the file of the 50+ applications I wrote until I got my first 2 jobs under my belt…rejection after rejection. I determined when I got my 2nd job and was recruiting staff at Plymouth Theatre Royal that I would treat everyone better than I had been treated by so many.  Is it too difficult to phone the interview candidates you are rejecting and tell them personally ?I still remember the best feedback letters I had from organisations that I immediately wanted to work with even more.

Its tough out there. Please be kind and continue to be inspired by the new producers and programmers who are out there wanting to change the world and make your business a better one.  And if you can find some short term funding for some of these amazing creative producers to help you in your business, then reach out to them – they are ready and very very able to zoom in and be useful.

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