Tell us about your venue’s programming policy.
Programming decisions are made collectively by the Programme Director (Julia Carruthers) and Programme Manager (me). We aim to have a balance of all the types of work we programme across each season or each financial year (April to March). Because we represent all types of major art forms in our programme and also have commitments to programming the work of the university student societies and to university events such as graduation ceremonies, the number of ‘free’ programming slots is actually relatively limited. For each free slot we’re therefore looking for something specific we don’t already have in our programme but which complements the other shows we have already booked.
Do you programme your venue within seasons or do you offer a rolling programme?
We programme within seasons. We work approximately 12 months in advance so it is advisable to be in touch about projects landing in 12 months’ time. At that stage we pencil shows in, which remain pencilled until they can be confirmed or have to move for funding or other reasons. Because pencilled shows tend to move around a bit roughly 3 months out from brochure deadline, artists can also ask us about any remaining available slots 3 months in advance of each brochure deadline. Rough timings are:
Spring (January to March) — approximate time for programming is 12 months in advance. Brochure and last minute slot deadline is September.
Summer (April to June) — approximate time for programming is 12 months in advance. Brochure and last minute slot deadline is January.
Autumn (October to December) — approximate time for programming is 12 months in advance. Brochure and last minute slot deadline is June.
How is it best for theatre-makers/companies to contact you about programming their work in the first instance?
It’s best to email me.
Do you love or hate speaking to theatre-makers/companies over the phone?
Emails are best to introduce us to your project. Phone calls are better for a follow-up if we want further information.
Have do you feel about theatre-makers/companies pursuing programming conversations with you via social media?
It’s okay, but only through my official work account(s), and not through my personal account(s).
Should theatre-makers/companies get in touch to come and meet you for a cuppa?
Yes, I’m always happy to meet if I can.
Is there a specific day of the week or month when you work on responding to programming enquiries?
Will you reply to every programming enquiry you receive (whether by email, telephone or post)?
I try my best, but I sometimes get too many and I don’t have the capacity to respond to everyone.
After their initial contact, how long should theatre-makers/companies leave before following up with another email or telephone call?
If I haven’t responded, I’m not able to programme the artist at this time and they shouldn’t follow up.
During an initial programming enquiry, what details do you need to help you make an informed decision?
We need to know what the project is: what’s the unique thing about it? Who the artist/company is and what they’ve done before. Is the show finished or yet to be made? Where else has the work been performed and where else are you going? Images, trailers and full film of the show are particularly useful.
Do you find it helpful or off-putting when theatre-makers/companies gives you the price of their touring work upfront?
It doesn’t matter.
Do you pay any attention to media reviews/stars included in a programming approach?
Not really. I think people can play a bit fast and loose with reviews so I don’t really rely on them.
Do you pay any attention to audience comments and voxpops included in a programming approach?
Do you pay any attention to testimonials from other programmers and industry professionals included in a programming approach?
Sometimes, but I’d prefer to see the show myself.
Do you actually find time to go and see the full performances, industry showcases, sharings and scratches you are invited to?
We try to get to see a range of work, but we still have to turn down many invitations because there are only two live programmers here and we also have to be on-site to see the shows we have programmed.
Should Artists invite you to see their work (including full performances and work-in-progress sharings)?
Yes, someone from the venue (either me or a trusted colleague) tries to see as much as we can.
How far in advance should they invite you along?
At least two months.
If you do attend performances and work-in-progress sharings, are daytimes or evenings best for you?
How far would you be prepared to travel to see work?
I’m willing to travel further afield.
Do you usually go to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to help programme your venue?
Yes. It can be a good time to get my attention, although we have very packed schedules and generally see eight shows per day. Free slots can be few and far between.
When should theatre-makers/companies invite you so you can plan your Excel spreedsheet of shows to see?
As early as possible and ideally by mid-July.
Do you (or a trusted colleague) need to have seen work LIVE before considering it for your programme?
We need to have seen their work previously, but not necessarily the actual show they want us to programme.
Would seeing filmed footage of the show they want programmed be enough for you to make your programming decisions?
Yes, seeing a film of the full show is useful.
Do you have an example of a really good approach from an Artist which made you book the show even though you hadn’t already seen it?
I programmed a show from a speculative email and film of the full show. There was a short tour pack detailing the show title, artist experience, more information about the show and director, images and a full film. They had done an initial tour and used the experience gained from that to remount the production on a second tour. I really liked the show when I watched it so booked it straight away.