What are Stage One’s plans for 2010?
Katie Harper: The Start-Up fund is the huge thing.
Zoe Davies: We want to raise the profile of Stage One, and also it’s a way of inviting all the potential people who could apply for it to come along and hear more, and mix with the council and established people in the industry – as well as giving a public platform to all those brilliant businesses and individuals who have supported it. So that’s the key thing. And 2010 I would say is also about looking at how we can better promote what we do.
Zoe: Looking at working better with other organisations, going to all those universities that are dong producing courses that perhaps we just haven’t talked to in the past, looking at whether we can tie-up with The Mousetrap with what they’re doing in terms of theatre and schools, and things like The Haymarket Theatre, who do masterclasses – Nick did one of those on producing recently.
Katie: And going to Edinburgh, making more links, that sort of thing. We’ve started working with The Old Vic as well – recently I went to a producer’s critique for younger people, where they pitched a production and we made a decision on whether it’s going to work or not and – then that person gets a place on our workshop – so there are things happening, and in 2010 we’ll look at more partnerships.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Katie: For me it’s getting to see the apprentices and the bursary winners develop their careers– I’ve only been here for a few months, but I feel I know them all quite well. We do meet a lot, we talk a lot and I try and help them as best as I can. I think also, I do all the investments for the production so I see the initial investment and then I see the show opening – I can go to a show and see how well it does, and when we get money back – that’s good. We then invest the return back into other new productions, It’s a nice way of rounding it off.
Zoe: Hitting targets! (laughs) That is the day-to-day side of the job but because I do feel that having come from a subsided background and then moving to fundraising in the commercial sector – to actually just meet people like Jamie Hendry, for example, who is a recipient of our funding and who is now actively commercially producing and able to raise substantial investment – I think that’s’ wonderful. It probably makes me a bit of a tough cookie when I meet certain new producers who say they’re finding it hard to raise investment – I’ll be sympathetic to that, I know it is a tough world, but if you can’t do it you’re not going to make it.
Katie: That’s the kind of balance that we have to maintain, the balance of giving help and again making sure that we’re not spoon-feeding.
Zoe: And it’s not just about raising the money – we’ve always said, it’s about developing projects and looking where we’re going as a charity and an organisation. I think the industry thrives on who knows who and if we can network and therefore join the dots for new producers coming through, then that’s a really rewarding thing.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the other producers who have come through Stage One’s programs?
Zoe: One of the things we did recently was looking at success rate to date because the council were feeling – we’ve been doing bursaries since 2000, who are the success stories? We give £170,000 a year including bursaries and apprentices, and at least one a year is successful – and I think that is a pretty good success rate, at least one out of 10-15.
Some of our successes from the past few years include Matthew Byam Shaw, who received a bursary in 2000 and most recently developed and produced the award-winning Frost/Nixon on the West End and Broadway; Emma Stenning, another former bursary recipient who is now Executive Director at Bristol Old Vic; and Jamie Hendry, whose apprenticeship with Sonia Friedman Productions led to him creating his own production company – Jamie Hendry Productions – of which current and recent productions include La Cage aux Folles, Spring Awakening and Legally Blonde.
To find out mroe about Stage One, visit the website.
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