What touring companies really want

So, after yesterday’s blog post I made a Facebook post and tagged in a number of my creative friends, who in turn tagged their creative friends, and we had a good discussion about what touring companies actually want! Our conclusions were as follows:

Profit

The single most important factor for touring companies is, unsurprisingly, how much money they can make. Its very important to be able to cover their costs, which can be substantial paying Equity rates to a medium-large company.

“For me, it all comes down to investment. I need to know I’m going to make a profit. And so it comes down really to which venue will give me the biggest margin – if a venue is expensive, but it increases my chances of a high turnout and thus more sales – it has a clear advantage over a cheap one.”

Payment terms

It was generally agreed that a box office split is preferable, ideally 70/30 in artists favour – an important learning for me as I’d been budgeting for 60/40. There was also mention of wanting flexibility to take a straight hire if wanted, or to negotiate a different split in exchange for marketing services etc.

“In terms of touring, with regards to payment, I have always worked and preferred a box office split. The norm is a 70 – 30 split of the companies favour.”

Communication and Information

Several people mentioned wanting clear and fast communication with venues, mainly by email but also by phone. They wanted to have no surprises, be told of any changes to agreements well in advance, and be able to speak to someone if needed.

It was also made clear that having as much information as possible transparently available on the website is a good thing! Specifically, pricing options and deals, technical specifications and drawings, and information about marketing strategies and previous successes.

“I think for me the first thing you would have to have is a good set of information about what was offered. so the technical specs, what the financial deal was, all this could be readily available to companies on the website.”

Nice-to-haves

These are things which are nice, but won’t necessarily clinch the deal:

  • Networking events with other local artists
  • Networks with other local venues
  • Connections with local press
  • Help with producing marketing materials
  • Face to face communication
  • Access to an in-house techie
  • Storage space and workshopping space provided

We also talked about softer things, like having a positive attitude to programming, providing an encouraging and nurturing space, working with other venues and art forms in the same city, and having resident artists. However, it’s important to be realistic and realise that for most touring companies, the bottom line is literally the bottom line – we all need to live off our art!

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