From the 1st February, LittleMighty will be running with Dick Bonham as Executive Producer and Gloria Lindh will be stepping down from her role. We are focusing our producing offer and will continue to work on projects with Adam Robinson, Aliki Chapple, Chloe Bezer, Fidget Theatre, Move To Stand, and Unfolding Theatre.
We’ve been thinking, (we being Dick and Gloria), and talking for a while about the future of LittleMighty. We thought it might be interesting, and of some use, to explain how we came to our decision.
The biggest challenge for us as a company is that we don’t earn enough money from our practice to sustain two full-time producers. In the past we’ve filled that gap by working at a pace that is not sustainable in the long term, and it’s something that we (and our families!) are no longer willing to support.
This will be completely unsurprising to anyone working in small scale theatre touring; people who are project funded; and probably anyone working in theatre in general. As the recently published ArtsPay survey by Arts Professional found, many already low incomes in the arts are made less favourable by the unpaid subsidy of arts workers. The culture of long hours and unpaid overtime is widespread and often a necessity. For self employed workers this is even more of an issue. This issue is acknowledged in the recent Arts Council England strategy, although there’s not a clear sense of what the solution is.
We aren’t here to complain about levels of pay in the sector. There’s privilege in having been able to choose to work where we do, and take the risks that we have with projects and income. Our issue is structural: it’s a symptom of a wider issue with small scale touring and theatre. Six years ago I (Gloria) went to a conference on the future of small scale touring, where discussion felt so far removed from the realities of delivery that I think just about everyone in the room could see the steam coming out of my ears.
Since that conference, very little has changed financially for the small scale touring theatre company, arts centres and regional venues. If anything the situation has become more challenging outside of the West End, with local authority and ACE investment reducing along with box office sales.
We have worked with some brilliant and inspiring theatre makers, whose response to those issues was to thoughtfully consider what they offer and how they reach audiences. For some that means changing the scale at which they work – and making that transition from small to mid scale is a challenge. It requires a willingness to take on risk that not all venues are willing to take on, and a jump in demands of resource for the company or artist that is difficult to manage within the parameters of project funding.
We believe in wide access to high quality entertainment (yes, entertainment, theatre is supposed to be enjoyable), and we believe in the communal experience of live performance. However, we find ourselves at a point where we are thinking about what outcomes we want and about what outcomes are possible. Seeking change without considering the mechanism of delivery seems shortsighted.
When we set up LittleMighty in 2013, it was in response to a need we perceived locally and nationally for independent producers. We wanted to develop our own practice and to formalise our strong working relationship. Some things about touring have changed – for one there are now many more independent producers. Jake Orr set up the UK Theatre Producers facebook group around the same time with around 700 members; it now has 12000! Locally and regionally organisations have begun to consider how they support artists, and how they might contribute to the pathways for career progression. Individually we have delivered big projects, opened a pop up venue, mentored artists, directed Fringe First winning shows, and kept a project funded producing company running for seven years. We’ve made more budgets and done more funding applications than we really want to think about. We have got pretty good at doing these things too.
LittleMighty as it stands no longer serves our purposes, so it’s time for the next part of our story to begin. Reducing the number of people we work with means we can be more effective, but also means that we can’t sustain the company model as is. Over our seven year history we have raised over £1.5 million for our artists, and delivered 63 projects. This was in the most part delivered by the equivalent of two full time members of staff. We are very proud of our history to date and feel very lucky to have worked with such talented freelancers, creatives and artists, and we look forward to the next stage of our journey.
A big thank you to the following artists and companies who we have worked with: LittleMighty wouldn’t have existed without you.
Move To Stand
Rich Seam Productions
Robert Lloyd Parry
Trouble At Mill