What can you teach creatives ?….

I’ve just come from a board meeting for Metta Theatre where one of my colleagues has just done the leadership course with the Clore Foundation. Yesterday I finished work with the now defunct, but previously highly regarded, MA in Arts Management at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge.  And tomorrow I start working with Mountview Academy of Theatre to recruit a small crack cohort of creative producers for a new MA in Creative Producing (Theatre) which will start in September.   So the subject is high in my thoughts.

I’ve created a packed, and I hope inspiring, one year course which we are now fleshing out as we recruit Visiting Lecturers to drive certain modules, and Guest Lecturers to share their wisdom. I am delighted that Professor Henry Lydiate who has been a backbone of the Cambridge course is joining me to deliver some of his extraordinary wisdom and powerfully held opinions about the meaning and purpose of art in the 21st century.  He will expand people’s brains.  I am especially looking forward to my wife returning to the academic portals. Dr Kath Burlinson, 8 years a lecturer at Southampton and my guide over the last two years as I try and navigate MA-ness, is going to bring a very different exploration – drawing on her understanding of authenticity, leadership, group artistic development, working as a freelance director, actor, writer plus her world of working on personal and professional impact training in the business world.  She will expand people’s consciousness.   Colin Blumenau, freelance director with 25 years experience of running theatres and mounting production on squeezed budgets for the middle scale theatre market, will explore budgets and project planning. He will expand people’s rigour.  And I will tackle explorations of fundraising, marketing, and business development. I hope I will expand people’s audience and bank balance.   A further 15-20 guests, all working in the business, will join us over the year – challenging the cohort and probably offering completely different opinions from the 4 of us – which is exactly what a course should do.

So my questions are quite practical – and I’d welcome feedback.  Can I justify an individual wannabe Creative Producer spending a year of their lives and £6-7k on fees ?  Do I think that each person could learn just as much on the job, rather than taking time and money to acquire an MA ?  And why are we at Mountview entering a market with many (albeit now one less) courses serving the student population of the UK and the world ?

What excites me about Mountview is that it is a course embedded at the heart of a massive create sandpit.  There are 150+ actors in training. There are amazing technicians and designers who will be the technical, production, creative design managers and freelancers of the future.  Together they put on around 30 shows in a year often with crack experienced external freelance directors and designers.  And the Creative Producing cohort will work incredibly closely with the MA Directing course, led by one of our arts and educational gurus Peter James,  together with the MA in Musical Director and strands on Arts Education in the community and new writing and filmmaking.

Is it right for everyone ? – no.  Is it right for around 6-12 Creative Producers from the UK, Europe and internationally working together in this sandpit for a year ? – yes I believe so.  Am I excited ? – yes.  Do I need your help ? – yes.

When Ed Kemp took over at RADA he stood before an Open Space meeting of 250+ theatre practitioners and asked “what should I teach the actors of tomorrow ?”.  I would welcome answers to a very similar question.  I look forward to exploring whether the course is right with potential applicants. I look forward to formalizing placement opportunities for each to work in the business on real projects. I look forward to matching them with the MA Directors to produce end of year productions. And I look forward to being challenged by them throughout the year as they create in a highly practical roll-up-your-sleeves course in Creative Producing.

Welcome to the Sandpit.