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Children's Theatre Network North West opportunity - deadline 18 December

  • Date: 4 December 2009
  • Area: North

This Children's Theatre Network is a new consortium of venues in the North West of England who have been brought together by an Arts Council England, North West initiative to work together to develop touring theatre for children in the region. 

The intention is to address issues of national concern as well as identifying and tackling specific challenges common to the four venues.

The four venues involved are:

  1. The Brindley, Runcorn
  2. Forum 28, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria
  3. Burnley Mechanics, East Lancs
  4. Southport Arts Centre, Merseyside (note: For the purposes of this project, Crosby Civic Hall will be used as an alternative venue during the imminent temporary closure of Southport Arts Centre for redevelopment)

The objectives are:

  • To support an increase in provision of good quality theatre for children (up to the age of 14) and their families and make it more accessible to more children
  • Within this remit, to address areas of particular difficulty that have been identified as common to all the Network venues and of national concern
  • To develop a common approach to supporting the development of audiences for theatre for children
  • To liaise with schools and educational bodies to improve the take-up of performances during (and after) school hours at the Network venues
  • To support the development of theatre for children as an art form, specifically within the North West region but also across the UK, in collaboration with companies, artists, writers and producers.

The Network is initially looking to become established over a three-year period, in three phases, each of which will be the subject of a Grants for the Arts funding application.

For the first phase, the Network is inviting submissions of interest from established UK-based theatre companies who can offer a production that meets the following criteria:

  • Available to tour the four venues during October 2010, over a one or two week period.
  • Suitable for staging in mid-scale (350-450 capacity) traditional theatre venues.
  • Could potentially cope with an intensive schedule that may require consecutive days of 'same-day get-in and two performances'.
  • Be suitable for both daytime performances aimed at school audiences and after-school, holiday or weekend performances aimed at families.

In addition to these specifications, the Network would be particularly keen to consider proposals that meet the following desirable criteria:

  • Productions targeted at the 8+ audience, which as been identified as a challenging area by the Network
  • Either new writing for the theatre or a creative, original adaptation of a book or story. (Shows that are primarily linked to a TV, film or commercial branded product will not be considered)
  • Has an associated programme of workshop activities and/or educational support materials that can be used either in schools or in the venues.

The company chosen to work with the Network will receive normal negotiated performance fees; it is not the Network's intention to operate as a 'cartel' to negotiate reduced fees. However, by potentially reducing transport costs and offering a secure consolidated multiple-venue booking, it is hoped that this may make it affordable for a company to visit the North West for whom a single-date booking might be unviable.

The main advantage to the company is that it will have the benefit of a coordinated approach to marketing across the four venues that will be supported by additional resources. This may have a direct benefit in making a two-show booking realistic for a venue that would, under normal circumstances, only consider booking a single show. In the longer term, hopefully the increased profile for the company will open the door to future tours to the region, building on success.

The Network is hoping to be in a position to submit a GfA application to support this first phase project early in 2010 and would like to be able to include the details of the company and the production that it will be working with in October.

If you are interested in working with the Network and think that your company may have a suitable production available to tour at that time, submit an expression of interest and as much detail as possible about the production (including technical specifications) by email to john.sprackland@leisure.sefton.gov.uk by Friday 18 December. For more information contact John Sprackland by email or telephone on 0151 934 2134.