08 May 2024

STAMP Connects 2024 – Your Questions Answered

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STAMP is a group of venues and organisations based in London who support and produce new theatre and performance work. STAMP’s mission is practical collective action to improve the ways in which artists are supported by our organisations and the industry. At STAMP Connects 2024 we gave artists the opportunity to ask anonymous questions via our Question Box. We asked Artistic Director of Camden People’s Theatre, Brian Logan for his thoughts.

Brian has been Artistic Director of Camden People’s Theatre since September 2011. His prior theatre work includes sixteen years as co-director (with Alex Murdoch and Neil Haigh) of the acclaimed touring theatre company Cartoon de Salvo, with whom he devised and performed in 11 major shows. In 2016, he toured with Will Adamsdale and Lloyd Hutchinson in Fuel Theatre’s The Joke. Currently at CPT Brian has co-created and directed This Is Private Property (2016), Fog Everywhere (2017) and 2019’s Human Jam. Brian is also a theatre and comedy writer for The Guardian, and former assistant theatre editor of Time Out London.

Can you say something about how you are thinking about / considering the term “underrepresented in the current theatre landscape”?

Good question. We have one particular commission targeted to artists from backgrounds marginalised (or under-represented) in the arts, and we specify in the call-out that primarily (if not exclusively) we’re thinking in terms of ethnicity, disability and class background. But whereas those are our priorities at this moment, we try not to be dogmatic about the definitions, and on several occasions have considered and indeed selected artists with different claims to under-representation.

Beyond that particular commission, we’re open-minded about what constitutes under-representation. It can be older artists; it can be artists with caring responsibilities. Often it’s context-dependent. We don’t want to set ourselves up as arbiters of what constitutes marginalisation, so – within reason – we’re try and take at face value any given artist’s claim to feel or be from a background under-represented in the arts.

Public funding is drying up… what sells well?

There aren’t easy answers to that one. We’re often surprised by what sells well. The real answer is: shows where the artist and their team work really hard and imaginatively to market, promote and build networks around their show. Beyond that, it’s about having eye-catching ideas for your show in the first place. When you talk about it, does it make people sit up and take notice? Is there a hook? Are there elements to the project that connect with things people are talking about, or excited by, right now? Are you making the show in collaboration with groups, organisations or communities that, in turn, might help form and build your audience further down the line?

Then of course it comes down to: how good is the show? If audiences are getting a buzz out of it, the word will get around, and eventually (if not always soon enough), it’ll sell well.

But: it’s an imprecise science.

What should I include when I do get in touch with your programming email addresses?

Ideally, assuming you’re contacting us about a project, submitting an info sheet or info pack about that project, of 1-2 sides of A4, is very useful. It should contain a precis of the project; brief info on who the artist is, what they’ve done, images, industry or press quotes if applicable, links to video footage if applicable, details of upcoming sharings if applicable. Also some info on where (what development stage) the project is currently at and what the artist’s ambitions are for it. In the covering email, we appreciate a sense from the correspondent of why they’re contacting that venue – why that is the right theatre specifically for this project.

What makes a good pitch?

See above. Again, there’s no single answer. It’s good to be clear, to arrange the information about your proposal clearly, confidently and concisely. It’s good to communicate some excitement about the project. Then, if it’s compelling and/or fun to hear or read about the project, or to speak with you about it, that inspires confidence that the project itself might be compelling and/or fun. It is important to look like you know what (in our case) CPT is, and what our interests and obligations are, and how your project meets them.

Thanks Brian! You can find out more about STAMP and the groups 50 active member organisations here.

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