I attended a lecture led by Independent Theatre Council (ITC). It was wonderful, and I have my friend Thee to thank as she works for them so is continually sharing updates about lectures to attend. They are great. For anyone reading this, GO! Check ITC out here
The lecture that I attended was ‘The nuts and bolts of starting a performance arts company’. They clarified what theatre was as by being ‘Anything live with an audience’ therefore dance fitted right in.
Another quote for them that I liked was ‘create work for the many and not for the few’. I often work across a broad spectrum of community and performance arts, and together they create dance for the many, but separately are quite segregated into either community or professional work. Combining the two of these together is something I very much aspire to do.
Two things that ITC pointed out to me where that Kathryn Spence Dance needs a business plan. Right now, I am taking work, predominantly either performance or community engagement (and I am aiming for it to be engagement with purpose). I should create a plan that ensures work I am developing or accepting is coinciding with my business plan. Another point was legal structure, and although I had thought I was not quite there yet, I possibly am. Legal structure allows it to be clarified who owns what work, what happens with cancellations and ensures clarity in the company.
One thing that I firmly believe in that they stated was that if you want to make work, do it, don’t wait for the time or the money, just ensure that it will happen. This provides you with something that people will want to invest in, instead of waiting for them to invest in you first. In more marketing terms, it provides you with something to sell.
‘Keep making good work. Do the best you can do always.’
They encouraged us to get our vision statement down on paper. So here it is…..
Kathryn Spence dance aims to combine professional and community dance to engage all of the general public in quality dance provision which works as collaboration, intervention, participation and audience.
I think it is still a work in progress but at least I now have a bit of a vision statement! And I will try to follow it day to day.
ITC spoke more about legal structure and charitable status. Charitable status is defined as ‘Advancement of education’. I am nowhere near even considering making Kathryn Spence Dance a charity, however I do believe that my work does advance education, and often in rather remote areas (having just come back from teaching dance on the second most northernly Shetland isle!). It is not necessary that all work for charity status needs to be delivered in education, but often mine is. I currently work in a variety of Edinburgh schools, from public schools in deprived areas to private schools. I enjoy the variety, after all variety is the spice of life, and believe that each pupil brings something different to each class. Having charitable status allows your work to recognised for public benefits.
Another useful section that they went over was finance. And how to see it and use it as a planning tool. Create budgets and cash flows for every project. I already do this anyway, especially when dealing with rehearsal or education budgets, or budgets for each set performance (especially relevant with ‘A couple of people’ touring this Summer). ITC reinforced that looking at where was under or over spent can be put forward into the next budget and cashflow predictions. ITC have another FREE course on Finance. I hope that one day I can attend that one as well!
Discussing how contracts help reinforce and define agreements was incredibly useful. I am often in the situation where I am not quite sure if I have intellectual ownership over what has been created, either because somebody else has constructed the brief (often for funders) or because it has been a collaborative process. Discussing this has encouraged me to ensure that I create contracts for all work that I create defining whether I have intellectual ownership over what has been created or not. The contracts section also discussed profit share, something that Gordon and I have been doing this Summer while creating and touring our piece. This meeting encouraged me to put this in writing between us, ensuring that we are both clear where we stand.
I have much more to add on the lecture, however if you want to more you will have to go yourselves. I just wanted to write a bit up about what I have learnt and how it will effect and influence my company. As always, I am always learning and these tips from the wonderful ITC have been incredibly useful. I would urge all of you to attend their free lectures were you to have the chance. You never know just how relevant they may be!