Laureline Bedotto's blog
Nearly two months into my experience as a future producer I can now say that I do not regret a second having submitted my application back in July. Since then, I have had the opportunity to meet some very talented and inspiring professionals, from the National Wales Theatre right through to Mayfest and the Pervasive Media Studio and have learnt a great deal about all the different cards a producer can play. I feel particularly lucky to be on board and be surrounded by so many like minded young people.
As part of the programme, we have all been lucky enough to choose between three different strands that are the late night screenings, family arts festival and the fun palaces, the latter being the one I chose to pitch for and am now co-producing with my fellow future producers Anna, Hayley, Jasmine, Mark and Roz. Fun Palaces is a nationwide event described as a ‘laboratory of fun’ or again ‘a university of the streets’. The idea originally bloomed back in 1961 thanks to Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price and was meant to setup temporary homes for the arts and science. A place where anybody could be both an artist and a scientist and where everybody’s curiosity would be celebrated. So, thanks to the help and support of industry professionals, we were tasked to make this 1961 happen in the corridors of the Watershed.
At first, the production meetings were a vibrant and colourful concoction of ideas and creative thoughts. There were so many of them that my little Muji notebook couldn’t hold them all. It all seemed very exciting and made us feel like we were resourceful and creative enough to soon have a Watershed party on the moon. Unfortunately the latter was not going to happen and this is how I had to confrontate myself with the first challenge of the producer: orchestrating creative projects also mean being able to filter ideas and understand which ones are actually relevant to your project and your audience.
After a couple of weeks we were able to roughly narrow our programme and draw a list of events and workshops which could fit into the Fun Palace space. At this stage everything was also speculative and we had all been ambitiously gambling with partnerships and sign off of our various plans. We had to be bold enough to make sure our Palace would be daring, inspiring, entertaining and educating but we also had to keep hold of pragmatism which was lying above our allocated budget and resources.
The reality of establishing a partnership was really exciting: It was the chance for us to approach people and organisations who would add value to our project but also an opportunity to vocalise the structure of our Fun Palace – It gave me a real sense of belonging to the project and a desire to inject as much energy into it as possible.
As our to-do list became increasingly bigger we also had to embrace another reality of the producer: A castle ( or a spaceship..) cannot be built confidently and stand alone without solid foundations. Budget, Marketing and Communication plans were our pillars and it was important to support all of our progress. I learnt that this is incredibly easy to lose track of what is happening around a project if you do not list your responsibilities, deadlines and action points, especially if you are co-curating it. Everybody in our group has been consciously working on various tasks and although working by committee can prove to be tricky it has also been a real driving force and has been an asset in tackling our task list quickly and effectively.
Quite interestingly it seems that all of us have brought together our own patch of interests and skills and knitted them together along with audience participation to create what the ‘Mothershed’ was going to be. The latter brings me to reflect upon a question that I was asked last week: What is your definition of success for Fun Palace? To me it is much more about people engaging with a space and its multiple functions and happily interacting with it. Mostly, my idea of success for our strand is not about numbers but about creating something memorable which will curve a smile across our audience’s faces.
With only about two weeks before the beginning of our event I can say that, as Kim Plowright rightfully told us, producing a project is like being on an emotional journey and I am really excited about seeing it all happening so shortly. I have learnt a lot so far about what it really means to be a producer; the watershed programme has created an excellent board from which we can dive into our future producing endeavours.
To summarize this blog entry, I would like to list three of the most challenging things I came across as a future producer:
* Health and safety considerations.
* Being able to let go of an idea you are particularly keen on but cannot realistically put forward, simply due to lack of ressources or because they were not fit for your event. As Sophie Ellis (Digital producer at the Royal Shakespeare company) told us, it is important to be honest with one’s own failures.
* Approaching all ideas from a curatorial point of view: This is what keeps your entire project together and gives it a real identity