Becoming A Proper Thing

So, updates from us here at Hope in Hell! We’ve been pretty busy in the past few weeks, sending out emails, arranging and having meetings, and doing cashflow documents! Lets start at the top…

Research and Development Plans

We’re planning to do our R&D, which is a combination of audience development and market research, in June-August 2018. We’ve managed to arrange meetings with four of our five target groups: students, Muslims, working class men and older people – and we need to go back to the drawing board to meet up with some new parents! We’re also planning to do surveys via social media more generally, to get a broader sample.

We are still hoping to get funding to do this from ACE, but we’re also confident that we can do it in our own time if needed – we might need to focus more on getting funding for the eventual theatre, rather than the R&D.

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

We’ve had two meetings since the last blog post! One went really well, the other went fairly well but not as well as we’d hoped.

Firstly, with University of Sheffield Enterprise, who help students and alumni set up their own businesses. These guys were super helpful, offering free desk space and meeting rooms, PLUS free business coaching and help developing market research surveys, which is super relevant to the R&D. So that was a big win!

Secondly, I had a quick meeting with Dan Bates, the Chief Executive of Sheffield Theatres. I was very nervous about this meeting – I was expecting either a slapdown, or whole-hearted support. Inevitably, what I got was somewhere in between – positive noises, but nothing concrete in support. However, he did alert me to a council-funded report into studio theatres in Sheffield, which is apparently coming soon and will be VERY interesting reading! And he’s a good contact to have made, so it was a net positive.

Next week, we’re back to more meetings! Three very exciting ones in fact – with a Relationship Manager from ACE, with Rebecca Maddox from the Sheffield Culture Consortium (and the local council), and finally, with KeyFund, a potential investment partner!

Money and Investment

We’ve been thinking a lot about how money will work for Hope in Hell, and what investment or funding we might need to get off the ground. We’re also going to be becoming a legal entity soon (a Proper Company) so we need to think about what that looks like too.

Our options for legal structures are basically as follows:

  • a Community Interest Company (CIC) – this is like a regular company, but it has rules about what the money it makes can be used for – it has to benefit the community. This may be beneficial when seeking grants.
  • a company Limited By Guarantee – this is a regular company, in a structure without shares/shareholders – which makes it less profit-focussed
  • a Charity – obvious, this is preferred by most grant funding bodies, but can’t have any social investment

We’re seeking advice from KeyFund (more below) on what form is best for us!

We’ve been looking seriously at how much profit we might make initially, and how long it’ll take us to become profitable. You can take a look at our work-in-progress cashflow spreadsheet here. It’s not finished, but it shows how stretched we might be – and that we’re going to need £10-15k raised before we can start!

So, where to get the money from? The most obvious option is the Arts Council – that type of money is small fry for them, and they should be interested in funding it. But it doesn’t fit neatly into their Projects Grants programme, which is why we’re having a meeting to talk it over. The next option, realistically, is investment. We’re going to be a low-profit organisation no matter what, so we will find it hard to get traditional investment. So we’re looking at social investment! That basically means people who invest money, and are willing to have a smaller return on their investment as long as there is provable social benefit. It’s a great match for us – and that’s where KeyFund comes in. They’re essentially a matching service – they help start-ups like ours to find money! And they’re also going to advise us on which legal structure is best for doing that. We’re meeting them next Wednesday, which is a really great step forward!

Name Change

One last (exciting) thing – we’re going to be changing our name! Hope in Hell Theatre has been a great working title, and it sums up our personal goals quite nicely, but it doesn’t work for a public organisation. So in future, we’ll be known as The Local (or The Local Theatre, we haven’t decided yet)! Expect a rebrand just as soon as we get round to it!

Thats all for now folks, but watch this space for more post-meetings updates!

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