SWOT Analysis: Getting Real

Today we’ve been doing some SWOT analysis for Hope in Hell Theatre. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and is a way to think about the things you’ve got going for you (S and O), and the potential hazards (W and T). Strengths and Weaknesses are internal things, or things you can affect, and Opportunities and Hazards are external factors.


Things we learnt from doing this:

  1. Our weaknesses and threats tend to be financial – our budgets work on very tight profit margins, and assume no paid staff, which is problematic in many ways!
  2. Low audience engagement is both a weakness – we haven’t developed this yet – and a threat – perhaps Sheffield audiences are generally disengaged? But we can deal with the weakness, and we truly believe that consistently giving the opportunity to engage with theatre will encourage engagement over time
  3. Sheffield is a perfect city for this theatre! With low building rents, low business rates, and a really supportive council, there’s opportunity galore!

The SWOT analysis can be hard to face up to, but there’s more in the green than the red!

Imagining the impact of success

We’ve been away in sunny Edinburgh for the weekend, so today’s blog update is actually from last week! We were looking at Evidence Modelling, which is basically a technique where you imagine that your business has been a success, and think about what that might mean for you, your business, your community, the wider world, etc.

You think about what you will Enhance (make better, introduce, improve, etc), and what you’ll Revive (build upon, re-introduce), and conversely what you’ll Replace (literally, or by reducing market share), and what the Backlash might be of success.


Focussing on the Enhance and Revive aspects, we realised that the Hull: City of Culture developments that are happening at the moment, and the ongoing success of SlungLow in Leeds, can both be used as models of success for cultural businesses in the north, and as examples of art creating audiences creating art! Inspiration is encouraging!


What does success look like?

Today we’ve been imagining what success might look like in the future. It’s really easy to focus solely on a balanced budget sheet, increased profit margins, more market share – and those are certainly important when starting a business! But we think it’s also important to imagine what good might come of your business, or what would need to happen for you to feel totally satisfied with the outcome. So here’s ours:

Year Two

We imagined two years of productions, culminating in helping local students develop a play for NSDF!


Year Five

We imagined that after five years of sweeping success, of building audience networks and community links, we are awarded the Stage Awards: Best Fringe Theatre award!

2 year success

Year Ten

This is the big one! We’re being ambitious here, but maybe, just maybe, we can achieve National Portfolio Status in ten years time! Dream big or go home!

10 year success

Vision and Mission

Today we’ve been working on the NESTA Creative Business Toolkit, which means a lot of thinking about exactly what we want for Hope in Hell Theatre, and what that might look like! Here’s a draft version of our Vision and Mission statements – you can see the final versions here.



Pitching opportunity!

Exciting update – we are through to the next round of selection to pitch for funding at Beyond Good Business 2017! This means we could be pitching to 200 investors, with prizes of up to £10k available! You can read more about this opportunity at http://beyondgoodbusiness.co.uk/

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Kicking off

Today marks the first day of Hope in Hell Theatre as an entity. So far it’s mainly just ideas and a website, but over the next 2 years, it will become a reality!

Current Activity:

  • Working through the NESTA Creative Business Startup Toolkit, including defining a mission statement and performing Evidence Modelling
  • Creating the website, email and twitter stream