Bridge the Gap: giving aspiring producers from under-represented backgrounds opportunities in commercial theatre

Bridge the Gap: giving aspiring producers from under-represented backgrounds opportunities in commercial theatre

Stage One 3 day Producers Workshop by Holly Wren Photography
Stage One 3 day Producers Workshop. Image: Holly Wren Photography
Date Published: 11 February 2019
Siobhan Walsh Headshot

Siobhan Walsh recently joined Stage One, a charity dedicated to training and supporting producers. She talks to us about their new Bridge the Gap initiative.

Tell us about you and your role at Stage One

I am an Outreach Project Leader for Stage One and to be very honest had not heard of Stage One before. I was assured by their 40 year record of supporting over 3,000 producers across the UK, butwhat really attracted me to the role was their Bridge the Gap programme which launched last year. The programme aims to ensure that every aspiring producer has the same access to the industry, regardless of their background.  

A lot of my career has involved teaching Drama in secondary schools in deprived areas of London. I have always been passionate about equal opportunities and frustrated at how many industries, theatre in particular, are a closed network of people who knew the right people.

Bridge the Gap has been developed to specifically cater to those that we have identified are under-represented on Stage One’s current programmes. This appealed to me as being a female from a working class background; the word producer had always evoked images of men with money. I’m hoping Bridge the Gap will change that!

Why is Bridge the Gap needed?

It is quite widely known that theatre is flourishing in reaching new audiences but it is still struggling to attract a diverse workforce. Reports such as Centre Stage and UK Theatre’s Workforce Review highlighted the over representation of people from white, middle class backgrounds in the industry and have done much in the way of calling for change.

Having taught many talented students and supported many emerging artists in my own work as a producer, it was clear that there were barriers that needed to be broken down to allow theatre to reflect the diversity of UK Culture and the economic prosperity it brings.

Initiatives tackling this problem such as Open Door and Act for Change have been successful in urging theatres and drama schools to take responsibility.  On a larger scale, bodies such as Arts Council England and BECTU have released action plans to support organisations in actively making the change. 

However little has been done to specifically help progress the careers of producers. Bridge the Gap serves this need by ensuring aspiring producers are given the opportunities and access to networks they need, particularly to break into the commercial world.

Who should know about Bridge the Gap?

Everyone! Bridge the Gap is a flexible programme designed to fit around full time work. It is crucial that the programme is open to all ages to include career changers and people with a wide spectrum of skills and experience. 

Bridge the Gap also targets creatives that have had experience in stage management or artists putting on their own work, who were producing without realising (myself included!). The programme is open to people who have a passion to work as theatre producer, regardless of education and previous career choices and to me this is the true ethos of equal opportunities.  

The overarching aim is to put producers on a placement in a production company or be given a bursary to support them as producers on their next show after the yearlong training. Bridge the Gap participants will help change the face of UK theatre producers and I’m excited about making that change happen.

How do I apply for Bridge the Gap?

Applications for the next round of Bridge the Gap producers will open in August, it’s two very simple questions that allow us to find out who you are and if the programme is right for you.  You can also sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with our events but do get in touch with us if you’re thinking of applying. 

If you are interested in Bridge the Gap, please feel free to call a chat or meet me for a coffee - 0207 557 6752 or siobhan@stageone.uk.com 

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