Wednesday Session Number One: Budgeting with Katie Keeler

And so begin our weekly Wednesday night sessions! Our wonderful introductory weekends of marshmallow towers, chubby bunnies, pitching ideas and meeting the previous Future Producers are unfortunately over, and it is now time to get serious with a lesson on budgeting. We continue on, however, with inspiring talks and workshops from an array of creative producers and learn from them how best to produce our events.

This week we met Katie Keeler, the Co-Director of Theatre Bristol.

Katie has produced 4 shows, co-produced 3 commissions and now takes an Executive Producing role at Theatre Bristol, which is made up of a collective of producers whose role is to work with artist, producers, venues and others to enable the best live performances to be made and experienced in Bristol. Alongside all of this, Katie is also Chair of Puppet Place and Vice Chair of the Independent Theatre Council.

Budget, budget, budget!

Admittedly, a talk and workshop on budgeting did not sound like it was going to be the most engrossing of topics (I speak for myself) but nevertheless it is an essential part of the process and it actually proved to be quite interesting!

A spreadsheet tells a story, and it is essential to start a spreadsheet where your story starts… at the beginning! Katie really instilled in us the importance of budgeting early on, and how fundamental this is for the whole project. We were told the difference between an administrator and a producer is the administrator focuses on expenditure while the producer focuses on the budget.

Some tips to take away with us were:

  • Plan for the best and worst
  • Make the spreadsheet idiot proof
  • Keep everyone in the loop
  • Don’t do it on your own
  • Identify the tricky bits

We also had an hour-long tour around all areas of the Watershed. This was led by Laura Wlader, Head of Operations and Helen Round, Watershed’s Food and Beverage Manager. We were introduced to the staff in the Pervasive Media Studio and Offices, before looking at the different event spaces in the Watershed. This was a great opportunity to visualise our events in the spaces and think about which areas would work best for each one. We learnt about the different ways the bar and café could support our events and started to think about health and safety considerations. Gareth Willis in Projections finished off the tour with a look at the projection area and a tour of each of the cinemas.

After a delicious dinner of roast veg soup, fruit and numerous packets of biscuits we rounded off the first Wednesday night session and headed home.