5 years ago I took on the running of Producers’ Pool from the founder Julie Clare. We’ve had around 60 monthly meetings across that time including, for the last year, 15 online. The network we have grown in that time is designed to give a community platform for aspiring, emerging, inspiring, tired, reluctant, and joyful creative producers to meet and share their passions and determinations. Last year some subgroups began in the North West and South West of England. In November 2020 I launched Producers’ Pool (Scotland) with the help of director/producer/marketeer Emily Ingram and Creative Scotland.
We have three big meetings coming up which, I hope, illustrate the range of areas of support/challenge which are needed in the sector, as we come out of lockdown and create a new way forward (…and I hope a different way forward). As a supportive reader of my Blogs, I would be so grateful if you would spread the word about Producers’ Pool in any direction which feels right. We now have members all over the world who may choose to zoom in to one of the following:
Wed 31st March (our regular last Wed in the month for UK & International producers to meet) – We have a Womxn only event welcoming female identifying and non-binary producers to share in discussion with a panel including Marie McCarthy (Artistic Director of Omnibus Theatre, Clapham, London), Vicky Graham (commercial theatre producer & coach) , and Robyn Jancovich Brown (producer & arts project manager in Scotland) . The discussion will be chaired by Kath Burlinson (freelance director and founder of the Authentic Artist Collective). As with all PP events, everyone in the room/zoom will have a voice – these are never lectures/talking head events. If you are a member of Producers’ Pool identify as a womxn and would like to join Kath and the panel book here. It will be the first meeting since Sept 2015 that I won’t be at.
The following week Wed 7th April (our regular first Wed of the month for Scottish based producers and self producing artists across all artistic disciplines) – We will be focussing on LGBTQI+ producers, producing and audiences and the challenges and opportunities of working in and producing in Scotland at this time. This was suggested by Michael Fraser (freelance Edinburgh based producer) who will be joined on the panel by Louise Gregory (freelance production manager) Annabel Cooper (of Sanctuary Queer Arts and Queen Jesus Productions) and Cassie Leon (of Cocoa Butter Club and Raze Collective). I will chair this one and hope to welcome to the zoom people with lived and producing experience of and for this cross section of Scotland. If you work in/around Scotland, identify as, or work with/for, LGBTQI+ then book here
All our meetings are transcribed and audio recorded using Otter.ai, which gives us all a chance to look back at a session and pick up the discussions and nuggets of information we may have missed. We use the chat widely to share wisdom and links. All our meetings include a section where each person present is invited to voice an answer to the question “What do you need?” right now, which someone else in the meeting might be able to help with. And we also invite everyone to share answers to the question “What can you offer?” to the people gathered. Many people at this point offer a specialist skill or a useful resource of information which we might not have known about. The amazing thing is to witness how often the ‘universe’ brings two people together with a shared interest or a moment when a problem meets a solution. It happens at least once in every meeting over the 5 years I have been facilitating them.
The final thing we are doing, partly in response to opening Producers’ Pool (Scotland) and partly because of the creation of the CGO Institute in lockdown, is to host a weekend of workshops for producers and SPAs (self producing artists) – especially focussing on Scottish practitioners.
Fri 23rd to Mon 26th April we will be running 8 skill and opinion sharing workshops under the banner of ShowMe. Final details are coming together but we are looking at marketing, fundraising, pitching ideas, basic budgeting, audience & participation development, the role of the producer, the producer as inspirer, and how to ensure we remain passionate and resilient. 8 workshops led by practitioners and colleagues including Idi Casilli, Briana Pegado, Mhari Robinson, Ellie Claughton, Emily Ingram, Emma Martin, & Fin Ross Russell plus a Ceilidh with Mairi Campbell and a light hearted Shakespeare Challenge with Victoria Gartner and Will & Co (in honour of his birthday). Thanks to support from the speakers and Creative Scotland this whole weekend is available with a Weekend Pass for £20. And individual sessions can be zoomed into for £5 each. If you would like a Weekend Pass then here’s the link (Individual event tickets will be on sale soon).
After so much lockdown, and a goodly level of concern on how we are going to find a new way to create work and attract audiences, this mini packed programme will hopefully send a cross section of Scottish practitioners out into the Spring/Summer sunshine with a spring in their step knowing a little bit more about a few rather useful things. As I write this I have the draft of Emily Ingram’s brochure design sitting beside me, and I can’t wait to see who will want to be part of this zoom weekend. People can drop in and out. We will welcome people from all artistic disciplines – inspired and reluctant producers, students and wise ones. All will be welcome, and apart from learning some stuff, many people across the Scottish arts community will meet each other for the first time and maybe get inspired to work together.
So, thank you for exploring these three events/projects which have come about because of the energy being created with, by and for the new CGO Institute and the ongoing Producers’ Pool. I am so grateful to Creative Scotland for affording me a little paid time to work on this. As one of the 3m Excluded freelancers and self employed across the UK, I’ve not had any Furlough or Self Employed support in the last year, and so the Sustaining Practice grant from Creative Scotland was most welcome.
Here’s hoping the sun comes out for all of us soon, the theatres and creative spaces re-open, and the arts can once again play a vital role in the recovery of individual and community perspective and health.
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chris [at] chrisgrady [dot] org