step by step
This step-by-step plan is about the business- and the organisational aspects of making a performance by an existing company.
Producing a performance
Before you start production it should be clear what you want to produce and with whom – not until then can you do the planning and division of tasks and decide about the subsequent steps.
If the costs are going to be higher than the income the performance is expected to yield, think of the following means of financing it:
- Subsidies and funds
Apply for subsidies from the various cultural funds. If you are playing for/with a specific target group, on location or with artists from other disciplines, also approach funds with a non-cultural objective or for other disciplines.
- Sponsors and donations
Draw up a sponsoring plan: which company may be interested in the performance, and what can you offer them? Take stock of what materials and funding may be sponsored. Consider crowd funding.
Find out if you can co-produce the performance with a workshop, production house, festival or theatre. See whether your project might link up with the plans of these organisations and ask about their preferences. Co-producers do not always have additional financial means, but may help with the work or offer materials, as well as provide a good place to have a premiere.
- Own contributions
See whether you can’t contribute some money of your own. You can also contribute your own time, to save on salary expenses: trainees and volunteers will work without pay, too.
- Do the planning
In the preparatory phase, take into account the availability of employees, the deadlines for subsidy applications and grants and the selling of the performance. Subsequently, plan the rehearsals period, final rehearsals and playing period. Plan who is available when, on which times and which days.
- Draw up a budget
Specify at least the personnel costs (salaries, social contributions, pension premiums, expenses, sojourns, fees); housing- and office costs; performance- and production costs (settings, costumes, etc.); publicity-, promotional- and educational costs. When you apply for a subsidy, first find out whether the budget outline has to be in a certain format. Decide your definitive budget later, based on the subsidies granted.
- Arrange playing venues: sell the performance
If you are not outsourcing the selling of the performance to a theatre agency or management, make sure that you know in which period bookings have to be made. One season ahead of time, draw up a list of suitable locations and make sure that programmers get good selling information on time.
- Make publicity
Do the planning, from the preparatory phase up to the last performance, of everything you’re going to use to catch the attention of the audience and the press. Use your players’ network and gear your publicity to the kind of audience and kind of theatres you want. If you work in a special location you can ask other interested parties, such as the municipality, the project developer or the tourist information office for their cooperation.
- Organise your books and personnel department
Make sure that your books and everything to do with being an employer is well administered and arranged. Properly record all business appointments with employees, suppliers and theatres. Ensure that there is a business leader or an administrative office for the financial management. Also keep in mind the accounting requirements of the Tax and Customs Administration and the financiers.
- Record the appointments with the venues
Draw up contracts that include arranged dates, starting times, buy-out sums or the division of entrance fees, free tickets, arrival times of technicians and actors, publicity, technical assistance and which equipment is supplied by the theatre. Usually you will also have to send a RIE (Risk Inventory and Evaluation) for the production.
- Make a play list and travel schedule
Give everyone a play list with the dates, addresses and starting times (from settings building to departure) of the tour. List the theatres’ contact details. For the players, list the travel arrangements: means of transport, departure times, locations, overnight stays, etc.
- Arrange transportation and insurance
Well ahead of time, arrange for the transportation of the settings; see which construction will yield the best discounts. Also ensure sufficient insurance for settings and passengers.
- Ensure publicity on tour
Make sure the theatre has sufficient photographs, flyers and posters, in good time. Ask about ticket sales early, so that you can take action when too few are sold. Consult with the theatre about what may be done to attract more visitors.
- Make a final report and account
If you received subsidy this is a condition of the subsidiser. It's also very useful for other reasons: everything you record may be used again for a next performance, as a handbook or help for a subsidy application.
- Evaluate the production process
Discuss all the good points and those for improvement with all the employees, the workshop, production house or agency. Very important for your network: thank everyone who has helped in some way or other.
- Make arrangements for a next performance
Make arrangements for a new performance with employees you want to work with again. Also inform all the theatres you played successfully.