We're back. Did you miss us?
Hello and welcome to the new, improved Work In Progress Theatre CIC. Six months ago we made the decision to pull on the brakes and halt all company projects. We'd enjoyed some great successes, including the premiere of Where The Bees Fly and the development of Dinner With Gatsby, but we'd taken on a bit more than we could chew. Things were moving fast and many of our team were at risk of burning out. So we stopped. We spent 3 months off to rest, we looked at what people around us were doing (and crucially what they weren't), and then we piled into a small room for an entire day to plan and dream for the future. 6 months later we're back, and relaunching the company with some big changes and very exciting plans for 2024 and beyond!
So what's changed?
Firstly, the name...
We're still Work In Progress Theatre; we couldn't change our beloved name, but the addition of 'CIC' gives us the status of a Community Interest Company; it makes clear that we're working for the benefit of the community and all profits will be reinvested back into our work. It also opens us up to more funding opportunities, which means we can take on more projects and reach more people.
You'll notice some swanky new logos floating about and we've given our website a complete overhaul. Overall you'll find a more polished look, clarity on who we are and what we do, and a greater degree of transparency. This matches our new professional standards as we seek to build a company which is known acrosss the UK.
One of the ways which we're going to give this transparency is in our Directors' Blog. Making theatre is hard and we're still figuring it out as we go, but we want to make it easier for those coming behind us, giving a completely honest look into the process of putting on a show, running a company, and trying to do both on a shoestring budget. This will be where we share our highs, lows, challenges, failures, and successes in the hope that it will help those who are trying to figure these things out as we were two years ago.
And finally, the plan...
Over the past two years we've explored a variety of different activities and business models, each of which have their own strengths and weaknesses, and which generate their own impacts to varying degrees. Development workshops for shows have pushed us to create high quality art and provide development opportunities for emerging creatives. Showcases and cabarets have created performance opportunities such as at The Theatre Cafe on London’s West End for young people who would never otherwise have had that experience. Dinner With Gatsby helped us to improve on our ability to produce exciting, professional standard theatre, leading to a restructuring of the entire company. And Where The Bees Fly showed us the impact that our work can have when young people who haven’t otherwise had performance opportunities are given the opportunity to take to the stage in a production led by professional creatives, inspiring audiences to save the planet along the way.
Pursuing or maintaining a career in the arts is fraught with struggle in the current climate, amid a Cost-of-Living Crisis and when the arts provision in schools is at a record low. Since 2010, enrolment in arts GCSEs has fallen by 40% and the number of arts teachers has fallen by 23%. As we relaunch and dream big, this is the gap that we need to fill; creating high quality and accessible work, providing performance opportunities, giving the opportunities for emerging creatives and young people to learn, fail, and grow, and being a stepping stone to ensure that the everyone can succeed in the arts regardless of background, all while inspiring audiences to change the world that they live in.
To do this, we will aspire to develop core infrastructure and finances which will allow us to deliver the following activity yearly by 2026:
1 professional production, employing emerging cast and creatives in paid roles, being the professional debut for 50% of the cast.
1 youth-engagement production, where possible devised or of new work, giving performance opportunities within a professionally-led production where this opportunity does not otherwise exist.
1 professional cabaret production in an established venue, with the entire cast consisting of emerging performers.
Mock auditions and new-writing development workshops for young performers pursuing a career in the arts.
Secondary schools, education, and community engagement work to run alongside our productions.
In 10 years, we want:
To be known across the UK as an exciting and ambitious theatre company which creates leading new musical theatre.
To have played an active role in the development of many established performers and creatives.
To impact and benefit audiences across the UK, and change lives through theatre.
To be constantly reaching new and diverse audiences.
To employ a core team of staff, all paid fairly for their work.
To have contributed to the strengthening and reimagining of the creative sector.
To be a financially and organisationally resilient company that nurtures its people.
It won't be easy, but it'll be worth it.
--- Josh, Erica, and the Work In Progress Team