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A Toolkit for Outdoor Artists

Created by Theatre Bristol, Seachange Arts, Le Forneau, Close Act and Bui Bolg as a result of the Leonardo Open Out Arts Partnership

Catherine Boot

on 30 September 2013

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Transcript of A Toolkit for Outdoor Artists

A toolkit for Outdoor Artists
design by Dóri Sirály for Prezi
Getting Gigs
Build a giant contact list of places that might book your work - get ideas from other artists and check out as many of these places as you can. Get names right (festival directors etc). Update your list ALWAYS and FOREVER.
Research the organisation you're contacting, so that you don't try to sell a show to an unsuitable festival/context. Click again to follow the arrow...
Use pictures which show a truthful representation of your work.
Include a link (that works!) to a good quality promotional video in your emails (marketing packs are a bit out of date).
Make the effort to speak the language of the country you want
to perform in (even if it's just using Google translate). Never underestimate the importance of good communication.
Don't use words that don't mean anything to you, just because they sound interesting, such as...
You're at a Festival, and it's time to network...
Try not to be shy. Networking is just
another name for making friends.
Don't try to sell your show to someone the moment
you meet them! Take time to get to know them first.
If you can make someone feel special by asking them about themselves, they will think that you are special, and that your work will be special too.
Play the long game. Your show may not be right for a programmer or Festival this season, but if you can make
a good relationship now, it might be fruitful in years to come.
Making the journey last
Try to achieve the right life/work balance for you.
Don't even attempt to please everyone - it's not possible!
Keep artistic quality at the centre of your work.
Always challenge yourself to redefine what it is you do.
Love your job.
Also known as some questions you might want to consider on your journey...
questions to ask yourself:

What do I do?
What do I want to do?
What do I believe in?
What is unique about my work?
Why should this work be made now?
Why should anyone care?
Make sure you see
lots of outdoor work.
Find out what you
like, what you don't,
and what is it about
the work that
means that it HAS
to happen
Do your research
toes aren't pointed
No, honestly, answer them. Now. They may be daunting, but they're crucial to making good work
What can
you do?
What can
you offer?
How much
support will you need?
How much will it cost?
It all begins
with the work...
Close Act, Netherlands
'Finksoup' by Ramshacklicious, UK.
cutting edge
Don't over-promise and under-deliver
'Thingamabob' by PanGottic, UK/Israel
Also, think about how a Festival is funded. If you can crack one partner in a network, it might open up 9 other Festivals. Use the information you gather to tell a Festival how you fit into their priorities.
Bui Bolg, Ireland
Street performer in Bath, UK
Here is an example technical rider for an
outdoor show. This is a guide only! Every show
is different, and a rider should be specific to your needs.
Setup time:
The Artist requires 1 hour prior to the first
show to rig and test the equipment and 15 minutes prior to each show after for setup and sound check. The initial set up may be several hours before the performance.
The Artist will provide a Sennheiser wireless headset mic and Mp3 player. The promoter shall provide a PA sound system.
After sunset simple, clear lighting for good visibility is required.
Space Requirements:
The artist requires an 8m x 8m square or circle of clear playing space. A minimum of 4m of height is also required.
For the safety of the artist as well as the audience in crowded outdoor environments, the promoter shall provide two helpers.
Attention to detail
Do you want to ask for public subsidy for your show? If you do, add in a LOT more time. It will take ages to research funders and to write an application but it will help you hone your project brief.
Do you want to consider offering a package that adds value to your show? Workshops and other forms of community engagement are great ways to do this.
Don't be afraid to ask for what you need - from funders, bookers, people in your company... well, everyone really.
Learn how to write a technical rider (Don't worry, we're going to help you...)
Save Me, by Search Party (UK), performed at Les Tonneres de Brest, France

So why tour Internationally?
More gigs = more money
Inspiration from other artists who are also travelling the world getting better and better.
More gigs = more practice
More gigs = bigger fan base
New audiences challenge you in different ways
"Love, loss and ...."
When not to tour Internationally...
When what you actually want is a holiday.
If your work is under-developed (you might damage your reputation for some time). First strengthen your power base at home. Promoters across Europe talk to each other - if you do well in your home locality, others will hear about it.
If you are not interested in playing the long game - you will have to work very hard for a long time before you get results.
Hone your skills and perfect your work. Then do this some more.
To know if you are any good, you have to have seen really good work - seek out the best
This seems like a lot of work. Do I need a producer?
Many companies self produce. This is a great way of staying in control of everything that's happening within your company, getting to know important people and making things happen for yourself, because you have to.
If you do decide to look for a producer, look for a relationship that you feel will really suit you. You have to have honesty, respect, and a genuine appreciation for each other's work.
What is a producer? There are as many different kinds of producer as there are artists so this is a tricky question. In different places, the role might be called something else or be split between a few people. Producers are often people who like to organise things, enjoy finding ways to keep people creative, see lots of work, are not afraid of talking about money, make friends for you and with you and fight your corner. Almost all of them love spreadsheets.
When should I get a Producer? No one answer. Perhaps once you've established a bit of a reputation and your work-load is just too much to carry alone? Some people find someone who enjoys the producing role early on and then artist and producer learn together. Some people prefer to find a very experienced producer to help lift them to the next level. Most good artists still 'produce' - i.e. think strategically and build relationships with promotes and audiences even when they have a producer. The skills will always be useful.
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