Producers Lab: a platform to connect and share

Perth Festival 2019 is about to begin, and we’re excited to be bringing back one of our favourite events of the year:

The Producers Lab

Each year, Performing Lines WA partners with Perth Festival to facilitate a series of discussions where producers from around the world are invited to share their experiences with local producers, venue managers and self-producing artists.

As well as offering a great platform for everyone to meet and connect, the sessions explore a range of topics including personal career trajectories, highlights and lowlights, and the many challenges and opportunities that producers face in their work.

Our Senior Producer, Rachael Whitworth, facilitates many of the sessions. Here she tells us more about her past experiences, what she gained from them and why she thinks these sessions are so valuable.

The Nature Of Why by The British Paraorchestra

What is the Producers’ Lab?

We have been working on the Producers’ Lab for the past four years during Wendy Martin’s Artistic Directorship.  It grew out of discussions about how to better support the growth of Producers here in Perth, contributing to their learning and connecting them with colleagues from around the world.

Throughout Perth Festival, a group of selected producers come together for a series of 1.5 hr discussions with visiting international producers who are presenting work in the festival program.  We hear about their career and how they work, we drink coffee and talk about the differences and similarities between us. It’s an opportunity to learn about different ways of working but it also connects our industry here in Perth.

What insights or outcomes does this sort of format allow that markets or conferences perhaps do not?

Producers Lab is a relaxed knowledge sharing opportunity and an ability to share experiences in confidence.  I love this.  It is very different from the high pressure of a market or conference.  Each Producer has such a unique path in how they have come to their career and the bespoke way of working with their artists is unique to individual needs and geographic location.  This is probably the biggest thing I’ve learned.  Producing is not set – it must be responsive and flexible.

Having the time to unpack this a little is a real luxury and not one we often make time for.

A Ghost In My Suitcase by Barking Gecko

to a simple, rock ‘n’ roll … song by Michael Clarke Dance Company

This is not the first time the lab has run. What have some of the highlights of previous iterations been?

In 2017, I hosted a session with Kate Coyne who produces the Michael Clarke Dance Company.  I really connected with her because she has a similar career progression to me.  She was a dancer with the company before she became a producer and spoke about how she still spends time in her trackies in the dance studio as she finds this a more effective way to communicate with Michael rather than sitting in an office!

I definitely feel Kate is someone I could connect with if ever I was in London and she would be able to provide links to her networks internationally.

Why is this an important addition to the WA arts sector? 

Living in Perth, it is sometimes hard to find opportunities to have deeper engagement with global peers, so the Producer Lab is an important way to stay connected to art, the world and each other.

It also demonstrates how big festivals can work with small organisations to support local artists and producers.  The Lab group have met at other times during the year when there is an interesting producer in town although, we probably need to do this more often.  The Festival provides such a focal point to take time out of your regular schedule but as a collective, we need to find more opportunities to share knowledge and experiences.  On the TO DO list for 2019!!!

Gatz by Elevator Repair Service

One Infinity by Beijing Dance Theatre & Dancenorth Australia

It is a packed festival program – what are you looking forward to?

The past three years of Wendy Martin’s Festival programming have exposed Perth audiences to some incredible dance, intimate and interactive theatre and some real diversity not only in artform, but the artists who are making the work.  So much to choose from again this year!

If you want to know where to find me this Perth Festival season click on the link below: Our 2019 Festival picks

This year’s Producers Lab guest producers include:

  • Ziyin Gantner – One Infinity produced by Playking Productions, Dancenorth, Jun Tian Fang & Beijing Dance Theatre
  • Jonathan Harper & Hannah Williams –  The Nature of Why by The British Paraorchestra
  • Ian Scobie – Arts Projects Australia
  • Ariana Smart Truman – Gatz by Elevator Repair Service
  • Madeleine Flynn, Tim Humphrey & Bec Reid –  Five Short Blasts commissioned by Perth Festival
  • Helen Hristofski – Barking Gecko
  • Sian Roberts – The Last Great Hunt

Applications to attend the Lab have now closed. Keep an eye out for future opportunities.

In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.