The right producing project for you, by Caroline Pearce

So you’re a Producer, or you think you might be or want to be, and you want to understand how to find the right artists and projects to work on, ones that will fit your skills and pique your interests, that fit with your values and offer appropriate rewards. Read on, this might help.

There are very many Producers working in Culture, there are even more beyond that; this thinking will help you find your place in that landscape, help you understand your USP and strengths whilst helping you appreciate what you’re not and maybe don’t want to ever become. Knowledge and awareness is power; for too long the role of a Producer has been a bit shrouded in mystery, particularly in the UK subsidised arts sector, and we believe that more open conversations will help us all (and the artists and projects) to appreciate and understand our value and therefore shine a light on each of our brilliances and give us the confidence to understand our weaknesses so we can embrace them in order to choose to change them or focus elsewhere.

If this guide works as we hope it might, asking these questions of yourself and taking them to any new project will help you make sure that all the important areas are covered before it’s too late, so you’re as prepared as you can be to take on the right projects, turn down the wrong ones (for you) and ask the best questions of colleagues to be able to recommend peers or bring on board a colleague with a complementary skillset.

For some of these questions your answer will be that you don’t care – note that you don’t care, this shows an area that’s not important to you, knowing that could be great for your collaboration if no-one minds about it, or if someone else really does care and realising you’re happy to fit in – clarity around that really helps everyone.

I believe that these questions will help you to understand what you need and want from a project and help you address and be sure to retain those as priorities. Needless to say, there are no right and wrong answers; if the work or project or artists aren’t right for you, they will be right for someone else. Big organisations have expensive and often time consuming systems to do this process, as independent producers we’re reinventing and understanding the wheel for ourselves every time. This process will help you find projects that are the right fit for you.

  • What artforms have you worked with?
  • What artforms would you like to work with?
  • How important is it to you that it’s an artform that you understand?
  • Is there an artist or company you’d love to work with?
  • Do you work with co-producers?
  • Would you like to?
  • What’s the best project you’ve ever worked on, from your perspective? What was so good about it? What made that happen? If you could work on projects exactly like that for your whole Producing career, would you? Why / why not?
  • What’s important to you about a new project?
  • Do you do projects in which you’re the creative lead?
  • What are the key strengths you bring to a project?
  • What are the main things you find rewarding?

Learning from the past to make things even better in the future:

  • Think of 2 or 3 things that have happened in the past that you don’t ever want to happen again and note them down – are they three completely separate things, or can you see themes?
  • What might have happened to make those things happen?
  • What might you have done to exacerbate those situations?
  • What would you do differently if they happened again?
  • If you want to avoid any possibility of it, how can you put that in a positive way?

This guide was prepared by Caroline Pearce, for Luxi, and peer reviewed informally by several Producers working professionally in subsidised and commercial UK theatre in 2020.

It is a companion document to the ​Producer / Artist Toolkit​ and we recommend using both in whatever way is useful to you. All feedback and comments are welcome, please contact us on ​