I think we can all agree that being an independent producer is one of the most elusive & isolating jobs in the arts industry. I didn’t even know what producing was throughout my years at school and university – it was something I stumbled across when my mate asked me to produce their Edinburgh Fringe show for a laugh & some free beer back in 2018. 2 years & 1 pandemic later, I’m questioning more than ever: who are we & what on earth do we do now?
Lyn Gardner quoted a Devoted and Disgruntled event back in February 2020 where producers were described as “magical unicorns … they are magic and they have the answers.” Needless to say Miss Rona rinsed me of all of my magic & I have more questions than answers at this point. Having had no formal training & questions that have only turned into bigger questions, I’ve felt more like a lone wolf than a magical unicorn for the most part of my career. That was before I was exposed to the possibilities of what co-creation, peer support & alliance can bring working as part of newly founded & freelancer led company, The REcreate Agency.
Having worked as the Associate Producer since March of this year, I’d sum up my experience in a mere three words. I’d have to go with – filling. a. void. It’s been really fabulous to have actual humans to speak to as opposed to keyboard-warrioring my frustrations on Twitter in the hope that someone agrees with me. No but seriously – I had no idea that so much can be achieved through people power & a shared determination to support & develop artists through producing practices that actually care about the people working within them. Particularly now as everything re-opens & buzz words like ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are being thrown somewhat carelessly by organisations who don’t even know the meaning of the words; as though our realities & futures don’t depend upon us being able to participate in an industry that favours those with money, contacts & a formal arts education.
Emily & Reece talk lots about how REcreate was born & what their inspirations were for its creation, that being; we can do more together than in isolation. This increases our output, (3 producers working across numerous projects simultaneously is pure rocket fuel), but this is not the thing we celebrate. In an industry that tells us to work harder, we’ve decided to work smarter, by working together. The pandemic has shifted the tone of the industry – it feels like a more understanding & empathic environment to work within & this is certainly the case within the REcreate team & how we work with artists as well as each other. That being said, there have been times where freelance artists have been put in precarious positions, taken advantage of & cut off for various reasons by venues, companies and other artists – sadly this is not something that has disappeared, yet.
The biggest tool REcreate has given me throughout my short time with them is self-belief. I know I am definitely not a magical unicorn. I see producers rather like magical wolves who are just as fluffy but have one hell of a back-bone & work better in packs. We certainly do not have all the answers but more importantly, we are dedicated to finding them out.