Sarah is a panel member of the Young Scot Creative Enterprise fund. Her background is in the field of theatre. She tells us about how she became a panel member and how the Arts Action Fund*, she received in the past, helped her to progress within the Creative Industries.
YS: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure, My name is Sarah. I graduated from university of Glasgow last year. I did theatre studies in English literature. I’d recommend that to anyone and I work in the field of drama.
YS: Can you tell me how you became a panel member for the Creative Enterprise Fund?
I was awarded the Arts Action fund in 2010 for a festival that I was organizing in Glasgow called “Stag nights”. I have done a presentation at the Creative Enterprise fund opening ceremony, so after that I was approached and asked if I would like to be part of the panel. Young Scot saw it was important to have young people who had just received the funding so that they would be able to give advice and be able to promote it and chat about it. So that they’re maybe more in tune with the ideas of someone or maybe what we found difficult when applying and what we want out of it.
YS: What do you think from your point of view are key elements for an application in the field of theatre?
Well , mines was the Arts Action fund - it was just a one off application but if I was thinking about it logically I think you’d need to have a clear idea of how you’re going to publicise the event. So maybe that’s through posters, flyers - but you don’t have to limit it to that - there’s facebook, twitter...You can do it completely online. A lot of publicist ideas are completely online and trying to avoid paper for environmental reasons but also just to cut down costs.
Think about the publicity, think about as well if you do that one production, what will be your next aim? Because sometimes if companies get bogged down on the one piece that they’re making and they don’t really think about the future. So maybe think about how you can give back to the local community, maybe do workshops and can anyone else like from schools feed in to your production, for example.
Perhaps by making props or doing something that’s helping out a bit to make your idea more long lasting. And to have a good relationship, it’s all about how to get good relationships with the community around you so that they will help you progress.
Oh, also I think as well, really important with theatre is how you’re going to get contacts so think about who you’re going to be inviting to your theatre piece. That’s really helpful because if you get some of the key players in Scottish theatre, they could potentially give you more funding in the future and advice. Go to as many workshops as well to get ideas because you never stop learning.
YS: Can you tell me how your funding from the Arts Action Fund helped your project and how it got your feet off the ground?
Yeah, well basically we had a bit of a bad situation because we used to have a theatre where we would do this festival every year. Unfortunately it closed down in my final year of university so we lost the venue. And the venue gave us funding towards the festival so we basically had nothing. So we found a venue in the centre of town which was quite good because we got out of our bubble in the West End and we attracted more universities to the event. The fund helped to fund the venue which was “Stereo” in Glasgow and the theme of the event was actually “boom and bust” which was quite funny considering what we went through. We converted two areas, one into a cabaret like a 1920’s style which was at the hype of the boom in the 1920’s in America. There were a lot of Great Gatsby characters running about having drinks, drinking out of tea cups because obviously by prohibitions of alcohol it was illegal. And then there was another bar - 1929 where the Great wall crash happened - so it was a lot more down trodden and there were glass bottles everywhere so there was a contrast there. The funding really helped because it funded the venue hire and publicity - so we ended up getting loads and loads of posters. We sent them all out and we ended up selling out for all 3 nights so it was really good for us to get that funding.
YS: How did you find the rest of the money?
A lot of it was through ticket sales. So we would get the money back because we had to budget. One thing that’s quite important to the fund as well is making sure you have a clear budget. So we had a good budget, we also had a few good fundraisers. We had a sort of tea and sandwich, and watching films from the period. I think we even watched Chicago which maybe wasn’t relevant - but yeah - we had like an all day film night thing and a quiz - so we raised quite a lot of money from that.
That was the main thing so then that kind of experience gave me the confidence to start up a children’s theatre company and to do work myself now because it made me think I can do this as after the event. I had a background already. So it has gave me a lot of confidence and it gave me a big network as well so if I ever need a designer I can say - oh I remember them - which is good.
YS: Can you tell me a bit about the company you set up?
Well I’ve got a small company called “Giddy Aunt” which is me and a few other people. We get collaborators to work with us and we did a little piece at the Fringe just about 2 weekends ago. But I do work for other organisations like East Lothian Youth Theatre and Ankur productions in Glasgow. You have to do quite a lot of different jobs.
YS: Can you tell me the best thing about the event you organized and what the challenges were?
It was challenging just being in a new venue where we didn’t know tech, we didn’t know the people we were working with - like the managers. Working in a kind of restaurant environment was difficult as you’ve got to deal with the audience members who aren’t actually part of the piece. Also there were maybe 12 plays over 3 nights - so it’s just like managing all them, making sure they’re on target.
They’ve all got their individual directors but I was overseeing - that that was quite challenging. Making sure they’re alright and making sure the band is ok. But I think the highlights were on the nights really and seeing it all come to life, we had character actors from the Great Gatsby running about and interacting with the audience and seeing how the audience reacted. The plays were excellent, they were really good and the music was nice too. So it was a really good atmosphere and I got the chance to finally chill out after all the hard work. So it was nice, yeah.
YS: Sounds good, you said already that you set up your own company, what’s the next step for you?
I just got a job with the National Theatre of Scotland on their emerge program. So it’s the assistant director for a show at the Glasgow Citizen Theatre. I’ll be working on that from September and that’s really the next step for me as I really wanted to get into directing so this will be a chance for me to train and learn and go on from there.
YS: Do you have any recommendations for young people that want to start out in the field of theatre?
A few things I would say is just get started and find a group of people who have similar interests to you and get out and make things, make mistakes. I was at university and I put on theatre everywhere. At a rooftop, a lift, a basement, on streets, anywhere because if you don’t have a lot of funding you just have to do it. Then some of the stuff you make might not be very good but again it’s about finding what works for you. But also its important when you’re young to go to as many training opportunities and workshops and stuff because a lot of these can be free. So that you’re learning from people and getting your name out there and it’s just so that you can learn and you can pass on your knowledge. I think getting involved in things with Young Scot and stuff is really good because they’ll give you support as well and I’m talking about organisations such as Creative Scotland as well. I’d just say talking to as many big organisations as possible and let them know what your dreams are and what you want to do. Then hopefully they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. Or maybe at university or school but the main thing is really get yourself out there and find out what you want because it might take a while, some people take years and years to find out what they want to do but that’s one way to get loads of stories to tell of in between. Like I feel I have lots of stories to tell now from a few experiences in a lift or like on a street.
YS: Tanks for your time and sharing your experiences!
* Please note: The Creative Enterprise Fund replaces the previous Arts Action Fund. Creative Scotland and Young Scot have launched the new Creative Enterprise fund to support young people, aged 15-22, in activities which allow them to flourish within the creative industries.