Looking for a Producer

Juley-Ann Collins + special guests:
Promenade’s Kath Gorman & Ciara O’Mahoney


1. A producer is someone who coordinates, facilitates, and develops.

Generally, the producer oversees budget and people management; like the chef pulling together the ingredients for success.

What makes a good producer? It’s multi-faceted with relationship-building at the centre.

Fundraising is part of the producer’s job. They need to be able to think creatively about different funding sources which also comes down to relationship building.

Usually, the producer works behind the scenes and is supporting artists with their creative vision; helping artists realise their vision.


2. Define the right producer for you.

Before you begin, consider: what are you looking for in a producer? Do you want a sounding board? A mentor? Someone to help with marketing?

We all have different skill sets so keep that in mind when you’re looking for someone to work with. Make sure your producer has the specific skills your project needs.


3. Define what you want a producer to help you with.

Do you want someone to take on your big project or just a small task? Do you want help developing an idea or applying for funding? It’s important to allocate time to do this important preliminary work.


4. There must be trust and openness in your relationship.

Do you have the same interests? The same styles? Has this producer seen your work? Do they understand your style?

This person is going to be your ally and advocate. You need to trust and understand each other and be able to thrash things out.

A producer needs to be excited by the project and the people. Find a producer who’s passionate about what you do so that it’s an easy sell.

If you have a shared vision for the work, it’s much easier to connect.


5. Look to your network to find a producer.

This is especially important when you work freelance. The following are examples of strong resources who will represent you in your chosen artform:

• Irish Street Arts, Circus & Spectacle Network
• Theatre Forum
• Visual Arts Ireland
• Writers Guild of Ireland

It can be isolating working in the arts; we’re all here for each other. Local authorities and local arts centres are also great resources. Reach out to them. They’re willing and open people. They want the arts to flourish and grow so don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

The following companies have databases of producers for you to browse:
• Branar
• Promenade
• Field Arts
• Once Off Productions


6. Agree from the get-go what the fee is and what the producer will do.

Don’t let a grey area develop in your relationship. If there’s no formal contract, put the agreed timelines and fees into an email. This can change later on, but it’s important to capture and record everything so there’s no confusion. From that email you can build on conditions.

By defining and recording working terms and conditions, you show how much you value and respect the work being put in by your colleagues and partners.

Timesheets are a good idea – record the time you’re putting in, down to the quarter of an hour. This shows how long things take and makes it easier to plan.

Being clear on everyone’s expectations is important.

Contracts are a good thing. If you find them overwhelming, a letter of agreement might be easier to organise. This could capture the agreed time the producer will put in and what days they’re present in-person for. Maybe the first half of payment happens ahead of time and the rest afterwards. This can all be put into your own words and fit within a one-pager. There might be tweaks and changes as you go along; this all builds into your relationships and legitamises your work. Your colleagues and partners will always feel more comfortable around a defined plan. You don’t want vague agreements.