1. Collect data.
Aside from evidencing everything you do, numbers of creatives, participants, audience etc. related factoids and statistics from trade papers, general media and specialist organisations can be helpful.
Its neither interesting to write about nor fun to do but nothing values your proposed work better than a clear need for it evidenced by a percentage.
2. Compare and contrast
Learn about the work of peers in your field, make friends, have coffee, share experiences, tips, support and mutual respect.
You can then ensure that all of your planning and output clearly defines your differences and flags your USP.
3. Make facetime meetings
Being in the same real world space with another human being is invaluable, theatre is a people-focused creative process and the dynamics between people at each point in the journey to the work inform the work itself.
4. Learn to predict
It takes a long time for any theatre project to reach the stage. Content is anticipated months or years before its delivered. Research current and upcoming productions for trends, consider the world and politics and anticipate, as best you can, the space your target human psyche is likely to inhabit at this future time.
You can then generate work appropriate for this imagined future.
5. Chase the dream, not the funding
Projects cost what they cost to realise. Hitting a figure because its available reads to a funder like hitting a figure because its available. It needs to feel important and stimulating enough to do without any money being involved at all.
Its art, not a transaction.
6. Know the difference between persistence and being a pest
Not everyone wants to work with you. Read the signals. Stop just before someone is likely to give you a definite ‘No’. Keep doors open for next time. Don’t be irritating. Radiate happiness and positivity.
You’re privileged to be doing something you love as your job, most people aren’t.
7. Expect timelines to stretch
Time gives air and space to projects, new collaborations form and artistic content gets richer. Fight any urge to do anything quickly and relish time taken thinking strategically, its never wasted.
8. Offer something
In kind contributions and cash investments are of great value to projects, clarity about what you’re offering and what value you’re bringing in return is vital.
Your theatre work has to give something useful, enriching and unique, know exactly what it is and be ready to make that case.
9. Review sent and received email
There may be a positive response you’ve forgotten, an invitation to be ‘updated’ or an email you sent which was never replied to which warrants a follow up.
Your future may lie in your past.
10 .Embrace the long term view
None of it is now, its all tomorrow and beyond.
10 tips: advice to self- not necessarily followed.
1. Use an appropriate writing style
Reports offer information.
Resist the almost overwhelming urge to add florid descriptions, narrative twists, cartoons, exclamation marks, swearing, Russian or dialogue.
Your audience doesn’t want to be entertained.
Your audience wants to feel wiser than they were before reading your report.
And no jokes whatsoever.
Reports are not funny.
2. Reap and ye shall sow
A report is an organic sausage; its flavour directly correlates to the quality and density of ingredients contained within.
Gather up factoids of use in a text box when stumped on page 33.
Pull in opinions and lists until your idea harvesting hands are calloused and stained red with opinion.
Only when the field is empty and devoid of material shall ye actually write anything.
3. Evidence everything
4. Weights and measures
The difference in postage price for envelopes under and envelopes over 250 grammes is considerable.
The wise report writer considers this when choosing paper weights and determining report length.
This is experience talking…
5. Cast iron copper bottom ad nauseum proof reading
Proof read, leave, return and proof read and repeat countless times.
Proof read, ignore for a fortnight, return and proof read many times more until nothing on any of the pages makes any sense at all.
Give to anyone who can bear it to proof read, when they stop speaking to you pay someone to do it and then do it again as much as you possibly can, neglecting everything and everyone else in your life.
Finally, deal with the inevitable errors that still make their way to print and hope they’re not too noticeable.
6. Say the same thing 3 times over
Say the same thing in three different ways and it will be read and absorbed.
In other kinds of writing repetition is dangerous and to be avoided at all costs, in story arcs, chapters/scenes and definitely in sentences.
In a report, it’s helpful and makes the argument clear.
Funny that, and yet not funny at all of course, because its a report.
7. When typesetting use no more than two fonts
Its taken a while and it says what it needs to say.
You’re pleased yes, but its been a dry old process.
You open up InDesign and now its CARNIVAL TIME! You cut and paste your findings into text boxes, a literary Sarah Lucas. You slap in obscure fonts you’ve downloaded into your typekit and-yeah- do them in different sizes and colours too. The words you’ve been staring at for so long can suddenly become REALLY INTERESTING. You are WHACKY and CREATIVE and UNIQUE!
And then you realise its virtually impossible to read and inaccessible to anyone without superhero vision.
It then takes a soul obliterating epoch to rectify it all.
Before starting choose two accessible fonts and two sizes. One for titles/boxes and one for the main body of the text. The odd italic and bold is as outre as you’re going to go from here on in.
A report is to be read and understood, not marvelled over.
Just calm down.
8. Don’t put text on top of photos
Only graphic designers can do this and make it look good.
You’re not a graphic designer.
Wind your neck in.
9. Check every box that comes back from the printers
Printers sometimes make mistakes.
The mistakes are sometimes not at the top of the box.
The mistakes can be epic in proportion, double covers, missing pages, upside down chapters, smudges, pages stapled together…
Check every single copy.
10. Expect to be hated in the Post Office
Its rare to send things through the post.
Going to the counter with 60 envelopes which then have to be fed through a post code gleaning machine one by one can cause a distinct atmosphere shift behind your left shoulder.
Don’t go during a busy period.