THE PITCH

DON'T BE LONELY present exciting new independent art, comedy and theatre work to International audiences. D.B.L produce an eclectic range of live work including physical comedy, experimental stand-up, idiot theatre, clown, character comedy, dance, workshops and other kinds of fun art. D.B.L turn ideas into things.


THE MANIFESTO

DON'T BE LONELY help great people make great things and share those great things with other great people and have a really nice time doing it. 

DON'T BE LONELY produce independent artists. We remain independent, together.

DON'T BE LONELY sit somewhere between idiot collective, ideas factory and production company. They're a bit like a gang. (Less thug, more hug.) 

DON'T BE LONELY means that as an artist you always have someone on your team who really likes your work and also likes you as a person. 

DON'T BE LONELY is as interested in fostering a community and an audience as it is in fostering artists. As an audience member, when you buy a ticket to see a D.B.L show you are supporting people who are supporting themselves and each other. 

DON'T BE LONELY only produce work that is in some way risky. We collaborate with artists who are doing something different from everyone else in their field and who are dedicated to making good work for good reasons.

DON'T BE LONELY want an art revolution.

DON'T BE LONELY treat production as an extension of art. 

DON'T BE LONELY believe that art is a noble and valid pursuit.


THE BACKSTORY

D.B.L founder Stephanie Brotchie is a strong advocate for independent and emerging artists and believes that great ideas deserve the chance to become great things. She has worked with many artists around the world over the past five years including Dr Brown (USA), Vachel Spirason (AUS), Trygve Wakenshaw (NZ), Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall (AUS), Stuart Bowden (UK), Pat Burtscher (CAN), First Dog On The Moon (AUS), Claudia O'Doherty (UK), One Step At A Time Like This (AUS), Look Left Look Right (UK), Vigilantelope (AUS) and Agency of Coney (UK).

She has also helped many arts organisations make great projects. Previous clients include City of Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria, State Library of Victoria, Next Wave Festival, the Tuxedo Cat and the Emerging Writers' Festival. 

Through working with scores of excellent independent, emerging and established artists she has gained a unique perspective on the arts industry. She believes that things could be run differently, and she is trying to find better ways of ensuring that independent artists can make good work,  sustainably.

D.B.L artist Dr Brown wins the Barry Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, 2012

D.B.L artist Dr Brown wins the Barry Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, 2012

AN EXPLANATION

An article written by D.B.L founder Stephanie Brotchie originally published on Artshub.

WHAT IS A PRODUCER? 

Why do we need them and what does it take? Independent producer Stephanie Brotchie shares the answers.

What is a producer? Producers, literally, are people who make things. In the theatre world they are people who make things happen. Being a producer can, and does, entail a broad range of responsibilities that vary enormously from project to project. Everything from getting coffees to getting venues is within a good producer’s domain. Producers look after artists, audiences, venues, marketing, press, ticketing, budgeting, design, printing, staffing, touring, funding, casting, selling and everything in between. The best producers are those that are project-focused, professional, engaged in the community in which they work and involved in the work that they produce. Producers are enablers for artists, presenters and audiences. Why do we need them? As an independent producer, I can really only speak for the independent sector and say that the independent theatre world needs independent producers. The opportunities for independent artists to work with professional producers are few and far between. Budgets are meager and time is precious, particularly for emerging artists. Most independent artists struggle to find the time between their three cafe jobs to make and rehearse their work, let alone deal with the spreadsheets, contracts and press releases that necessarily accompany it. For artists, having a dedicated producer who understands your goals and can help you achieve them can be the difference between you floating an idea at the pub and you actually realising that idea on stage. If there were more emerging producers working with emerging theatre-makers, more great work would be made.

What should be produced? I am an independent producer, which means that I work directly with artists. I am a freelancer and I have the ability to pick and choose my projects based on my own tastes and at my own peril. This means that I have the privilege of producing work that I believe in, and the ability to preference projects in which I have some sort of artistic investment. I don’t produce shows that I wouldn’t want to see as an audience member. For this reason I am a terrible business person and could probably be living above the poverty line if I was less stubborn about the jobs that I take. Many producers address this issue of sustainability versus artistic integrity by taking on some projects for money and some for love, but ideally I think it should all be about love.

What does it take? The broad skills required to be a producer include good time management, excellent communication skills, clear-headed perspective, near-obsessive over-organisation, long-term thinking and a genuine enthusiasm for the work. Unfortunately, most people with this skill set find well-paid project management jobs in consulting firms or business management without giving the performing arts even a perfunctory glance. The beauty of the theatre industry, however, is the support you are given by your community to create the things you want to make. Friends keep theatre alive, and alongside the generosity of others, resourcefulness and creative thinking go a long way towards realising projects against the odds. Rising to the challenge of bringing a great idea into fruition is a major part of why I find producing an incredibly rewarding way to lose money.

What happens when there are not enough producers? Because in our sector people with the temperament and skills to produce are few and far between, artists are regularly required to take on the production role themselves (to varying degrees of frustration and success). Often this is because of budgetary constraints, often it’s because they don’t know what a producer does or where to go about finding one. It’s a tricky situation for the industry. No doubt there are scores of brilliant ideas that struggle to find voice because of the logistical barriers between concept and presentation and there just as many brilliant shows that get made but not seen by nearly as many people as they deserve to be. The problem for producers is that to work sustainably means a) taking on a small number of projects and doing them well and b) taking on enough projects with budgets throughout the year to make a living.

How can these issues be addressed? Producers can build bridges between ideas and audiences, but only if they have a sustainable framework in which to do so. This is starting to be addressed by some funding bodies such as the Australia Council and Independent Producers Australia who, with schemes such as the Independent Producers Initiative, are recognising how integral producers are to the growth and sustainability of the theatre industry. Apart from this though, there is a big question as to how to foster and support producers so that they can, in turn, foster and support artists and audiences. One issue that needs to be addressed is the invisibility of producers in the process of making theatre. Producing typically happens behind-the-scenes, in the dark, and while producers bring artists and audiences together, their varied and amorphous roles are rarely understood by either.

Do it! Producing is an incredibly rewarding role. If you have the skills and the passion to make things happen, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to pursue producing, particularly at an independent level, where the industry needs you most. 

Postscript: When I originally published this article I received a stack of emails from people who expressed interest in becoming independent producers. This led me to establish an Emerging Producers Database which I continue to maintain and email irregularly with training and job opportunities in the industry. If you would like your name added to this mailing list, please email me at dont.be.lonely.productions[a]gmail.com.