Posts Tagged ‘ admin ’

Looking ahead to 2015

It’s been such a long time since we’ve been in touch and we hope you forgive us. Since PROPHESY finished it may seem like we’ve been quiet, but we promise a lot of exciting things have been happening in Baz HQ.

 

With a new year comes a sense of self-reflection and Baz has been no different. As we look towards the future we’ve returned to our values and the mission we set down right at the start. Are they still valid? Are those commitments and promises still relevant? Is the Baz of today the same as that of 2010?

 

We have certainly changed: 2 marriages; a career change; a Baz baby and countless jobs have seen our time grow increasingly more precious, forcing us to focus on how best to protect what we love most about Baz amongst everything else that comes with running a company.

 

Our priority is the development of new and exciting work. To do so requires money. And, oh the irony, our least favourite part is raising the money… Exactly what we need in order to achieve the priority. Fundraising is the hardest and most time consuming part of running an arts company and requires every ounce of energy. It’s a full time job on it’s own requiring a skillset not always compatible with theatre folk. We’ve been incredibly lucky in the level of support, financial and otherwise, that we’ve received over the years from our audiences and friends and we’re determined to honour our promise to pay a living wage to our cast. We’re also determined to do so without pestering those who show an interest in our work and exhausting ourselves. Which is why we’ve been quiet…. We’ve been spending time working out how we can use our skills in order to become financially viable, and consistently so, in order to focus on the best bits of Baz – the work.

 

Excitingly we’ve been working with Teach First; a fascinating charity that trains graduates and supports them through their first years on the job. Alongside their existing program we have developed a series of workshops that we are delivering to their participants. Providing a toolkit of skills, both physical and vocal to improve teacher presence, has been exhilarating and rewarding. Not to mention providing us with a steady income. We intend to build on this side of Baz Ed as well as delivering a pilot scheme for Teach First in both London and Ipswich over the next few months which it is hoped will be rolled out to all new teachers. To help us achieve this we’ve enlisted PJ Crabb as our Education Manager and we’re thrilled to welcome her to the Baz Team. With this now in place we can use our precious time to devote to the next project we’re planning for 2016.

 

The brief was quite simple, and set over a boozy lunch…. It had to be bonkers, European and female. After a lot of reading August Strindberg’s A Dream Play seemed to fit the bill. It ticked the first two boxes straight away and although not written by a woman, it’s sole protagonist is one; a female character that navigates the weird and wonderful dystopian dream-reality. A rare thing in a play written at the very beginning of the 20th Century. We love it. We spent the first half of 2014 exploring it, playing with it and pulling it apart in monthly workshops with the team and a group of invited musicians who have helped open up a whole new world to us. Although workshops are in a hiatus as we concentrate on venues and details and exactly how we want to approach the text, we’re thrilled with the work so far.

 

So I hope that fills you in. We may occasionally forget to blog and post and tweet, but we promise that’s just because we’re so wrapped up in ensuring the future and focusing our time where it’s best placed. We don’t want to be in touch only when we need something. We want a financially stable company with a secure future in order to retain everything we believe is unique and special about Baz.

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The Value of Art

 

This week Baz has twice been reminded about the Value of Knowledge within the arts.

 

On Saturday we spent an exhausting 4 hours sat around the table that was acting as the Baz office and scrawled over flip charts with marker pens as we were led through an energising and focused brainstorm by a fundraising professional. We have been lucky enough to have secured knowledge and advice from some incredibly talented and skilled professionals over the last couple of years whilst we have stared up adoringly and lapped up every word. Frankly, we’ve been shameless – bribing a fundraiser, a PR creative, a musician, a School Drama Head, a website designer, a programme designer, a social media expert and countless other talents with coffee and wine as in order to pick their brains and benefit from their generosity. And each time they agree and share their knowledge with us I almost pinch myself… Infact, no… I really do pinch myself. Because their skills and knowledge are so valuable. Not just in terms of our appreciation, but in a monetary value to us both that increases our worth, and a value that is placed on their time. These lovely people are trained and skilled in something that they trade with on a daily basis in their day jobs. It gives them a value as employees, and the more they’ve trained and the more experience they have, the more valuable they are. To then let us in and share that skill so freely catapults us past the hard graft they’ve undertaken to learn their trade straight to the rewards that we reap, and that’s a big ask. I wouldn’t walk into a hairdresser and ask for a free cut and blow-dry for nothing just because I was a bit cash-short that month.

 

There is a value in skill and there is a trade and a transaction required if we aren’t able to pay for them in a conventional way. This may be bottles of wine, or large shouted thank-yous, mentions and recommendations and constant promotion, free tickets, or the promise of payment properly next time – all sealed with eternal gratitude and the promise of a warm fuzzy feeling in return. We must ensure that this is not forgotten and that we honour it in return in order to build and nurture these relationships that as an industry we so often rely on.

 

But we must also remember that equally there is a value in our own artistic work that as a community we often forget and can all too easily find it being taken advantage of. Actors/musicians/writers/directors (and a whole host of other artists – delete as appropriate) often find themselves working for free and asked for large favours that no-one would consider asking of friends and colleagues in other disciplines and industries. As a company, Baz are determined that an honest day’s work should be rewarded by an honest day’s pay and a large part of what we do is an attempt to urge artists to remember the skills they possess and the value they hold – beautiful skills that have been developed over years of study and training and that should be celebrated and protected, not exploited. That’s not to say we shouldn’t always be looking to help and support each other, just that we should also ensure we are not taking, or being taken, advantage of.

 

We have recently been lucky enough to join forces with People at Play, a collective of multi-disciplinary companies that are working out of Pimlico Academy and attempting to establish a way of supporting each other, trading our valuable skills and paying back to the community who allow us to use their space for free. On Thursday we were reminded again about the value of artists and the need to share and appreciate each other’s skills as we all freely debated how this would be achieved and revelled in the opportunity to mould and influence such an important scheme. We may not all do it the same way; we may assign different values to our skills, and we all have different things we can trade in return, but we must always ensure that trade is completed, honoured, and respected if we wish to continue to use it.

 

And on that note, I’m off to thank that lovely fundraiser again….

Baz To-Do List….

Isn’t it always the case that everything lands on your desk at the same time? Looking at my weekend to do list, I wish things could be more evenly spaced. But then, where’s the fun in that?

These next 2 weeks BAZ has to achieve the following….

• Cast and contract our lovely actors

• Raise a final £3,000

• Promote Poetry competition and collate entries to pass to Wendy Cope and Lachlan MacKinnon

• Get our draft programme back from the designer and make amends

• Pass programme and ad/sponsor list to the media company to start selling space

• Meet with PR company to check we’re on track

• Confirm the teachers attending the Twilight session happening on the 12th September

• Write thank you letters to recent donors

• Announce and find musicians for pre-show set

• Meet with Arts Council

• Hold our first production meeting

• Draft the Macbeth press release

• Arrange ticket confirmations

• Write and send out newsletters

I’m sure I’m missing something….. I swear I’m a couple of bullet points short….. nope. It’s gone. Rubbish.

But it’ll be fine…. Really. It’ll certainly be interesting. When the action point from Wednesday’s meeting was ‘let’s just get some more money’, Sarah calmly yet decisively stated ‘Yes, let’s just do that’, as if it was the most simple thing in the world to achieve that we just overlooked. We dissolved into giggles. She seemed so sure, we have made that her action point. When we met on Tuesday I’m assuming she’ll have ticked that one off… Or coloured in one of her weird little triangle thingies she draws next to points.

Looking at the above and knowing that’s just a fraction of what to come, it’s exciting. I don’t know about you but I love a good list. Sometimes, in order to really make myself feel better, I add things to the list I’ve already done, just so I can tick it off.

Yes, let’s just do that.

FLYERS!!! It’s the flyers…. I KNEW there was something else.

A Circus Life

Sometimes I pick up some spare ignored fruit I bought in a misguided moment from my dusty fruit bowl and attempt to juggle. Each time I’m utterly shocked I can’t do it. I feel like I spend my whole life juggling metaphorically and I’m pretty sure I share that thought with you and countless hundreds of people who must juggle on a daily basis (minus the stripy trousers and red nose), surely gaining a party trick out of it is only fair compensation? Juggling a work/life balance, juggling children and relationships, juggling work priorities, we all have something to juggle.

Baz has its fair share of juggling and jugglers; from poetry competitions to education workshops, selling advertising space to arranging parties, negotiating venues to writing letters – not to mention having to pay the bills with other jobs, different projects and commitments that distract you from the juggle. Sometimes all this juggling detracts from why we started in the first place and what we are so determined to achieve. Once in a while as we get carried away keeping track of the million and one balls we have going round in the air we need to stop. Carefully get off the unicycle, put some of the balls gently down back in the fruit bowl and take a moment to pick up and admire the biggest ball of them all – the reason we started – our passion for making theatre. Sometimes this ball needs juggling all on its own, with our full focus and two steady hands to really appreciate it. And then, only then, we can start introducing the smaller balls once again, one by one.

Once they’re all back in rhythm we stop caring whether we can juggle some dried up granny smiths or not. We’re already all juggling even bigger things – and that’s a far more impressive trick.

Stripy trousers never suited me anyway.

Party time

Friday 29th July.

Day of the Baz Summer Party …

6.00am

Awake.  Lie in bed panicking about whether I forgot to send the updated info sheet for printing.

6.12

Convince myself I did send it. I remember doing it. I do.

6.15

Do I?

6.17

I do.

6.21

Better just check …

10.03

Phone the venue to finalise equipment drop off. Phone local bars to finalise ice pick ups.

10.11

Remember haven’t ironed dress. Put iron on.

10.12

Realise info sheet has a typo on it. Rewrite hurriedly. Resend the now rewritten info sheet.

10.24

Remember iron is on. Iron dress before building burns down.

12.19

Alcohol, glasses, cleaning equipment, outfit and paperwork packed into gigantic travel case. Set off dragging it across London. Sweating.

12.23

Bus stop. Elderly couple in stitches at the size of my case. ‘Blimey! How much does that weigh? Let’s have a feel! Hope you’re not going far. Here love, you get on first!’ They giggle as I drag the case on behind me.

12.41

Elephant and Castle tube station. A labyrinth in the centre of which lies the enigmatic Northern Line northbound platform. Have hauled case up and down four staircases and numerous corridors. Lost.

12.48

Still lost.

12.52

More lost. Have found the exit twice. And nine staircases. I kick the case.

14.13

Ready to make Baz Kiss cocktails. All ingredients laid out. Measurements taken. Bottles ready.

14.18

First bottle of Baz Kiss finished. Beautiful. And tasty. We are a little high on success.

14.25

Second bottle proving more difficult. Proportions wrong. We are flushed. Liquid spills.

14.39

Realise we have been trying to put 85cl in a 75cl bottle. Start again.

16.32

Standing in queue at the bank to get change for float. Carrying £250 in my bag. Trying to look nonchalant. And poor. Now would be a bad time to get mugged.

16.59

Both cars loaded, lists ticked off, energy drinks consumed. Baz Team are go!

18.37

Bar set up, furniture rearranged, car gone for second pick up. Twine and pegs are the main concern, as it takes three of us to hang the gallery section (I feel I hamper more than help : ‘Bit higher’ ‘Really’? ‘Yes, higher’ ‘Let’s see…’ ‘Oh no, hang on. Lower. I meant lower’ ‘Right’ ‘Yeah’).

18.57

Car arrives back and it’s unload frenzy.

19.42

We have sound, lights, projections and ice. Finishing touches include starting off the Baz wall of comments. We go marker pen-tastic.

20.00

Bang on time the first guests arrive. I have a beer in one hand, a sandwich in the other. Excitement replaces nerves.

21.47

Party in full swing. Many brilliant friends and lovely strangers have made it. Good conversation is had, And Baz Kiss cocktails are going down a treat. I get a refill. Another one.

23.56

Four minutes to shut down. I want to do a last orders call. Amy Winehouse is playing. I respectfully wait until she has finished, swaying to the music. Grab a hold of the wall to balance myself. Turn off the music and scream a last orders call at the room. Everyone looks stunned for a second. I might have been louder than I meant to be. I smile and shrug. Down the remains of my cocktail.

00.16

Get out is happening, packing and cleaning and stacking and loading. Goodbye party time.

00.52

First car load gone. We can do nothing until it comes back. Settle into a good hearty discussion about politicians and the media.

01.26

Car has made it back and is fully loaded. Seems heavy so we remove a few beers. Think it’s best to drink them. Waste not want not.

01.32

Wave goodbye to the car. Start the journey home, dragging enormous case behind me. Brick Lane is a treat. Get stabbed in the calf by a high heel. I run the case over a man’s foot as revenge.

02.15

Fall into the flat and get out the sofa bed am staying on. We all look at the photos from the night. We drink water. We can’t stop talking.

03.12

Sleep.


The Baz Office

Like a fabulously fashionable pop-up restaurant in the heart of Soho that appears and disappears in a flash, visited only by achingly hip exclusive diners in the know that makes you feel utterly out of touch when it completely passed you by – The Baz office is equally as underground and even more fun…

Whether held in a rush post day-job on the 5th floor café in the Royal Festival Hall with laptops and bottles of water, at Emma’s flat with exploding veggie curries and piles of envelopes to stuff, or chez Catherine, which more often than not involves a copious amount of wine, Baz meetings have become an important part of what we do. Whether we keep on track with over ambitious agendas, minutes and deadlines, or whizz off on the most elaborate of tangents and fantasy plans, Baz meetings are where we’ve dreamt up our best, and our most stupid, ideas. On reflection, our most stupid ones seem to have been in direct correlation to the amount of wine consumed. Either way, they’ve left us galvanised, full of possibility and with a solution to every obstacle in our way.

From little germs of ideas to big bold statements, the meetings have nurtured and developed our plans and become almost as creative as the workshops. Constantly alive, Baz meetings are where we work hard to achieve our goals, support each other, back each other up and encourage each other (and therefore Baz) to be better and to dream bigger. The party in January was the biggest of these dreams to date, and we achieved far more than we ever had hoped for, raising over £2700 in cash on the night, a testament to our planning. And not afraid to go one step further, within a week of it being over, we were back in our powwow dreaming up the next thing – our showing in April.

Of course, this has all been achieved with the help of others, the actors who constantly inspire us and the lovely people who come along to our meetings to help, and thank god for them all. From observers blown away at our dedication and organisation, to those who’ve silenced the stupid giddy ideas with single raised eyebrows that see us dissolve into giggles, and others we’ve pounced on to pick their brains and suck dry all their knowledge, they’ve kept us on track and make us even more determined.

One day Baz dreams of having its own office; a dedicated space that doesn’t double as a kitchen or a living room. It will have 4 walls to scribble over and tons of space and filing cupboards, we’ll be there 8 hours a day and maybe there’ll be a good looking sandwich guy to deliver lunch (if we’re lucky), there’ll be desks for all, a stationary cupboard with an endless supply of envelopes, paperclips and working pens, and a magical agenda we actually get through, but frankly, I reckon it can wait…. Whether it pops up early Saturday mornings with a croissant, or involves weekday 2am finishes coupled with paper-cuts and wine, Baz has everything it needs for now. Ideas. Ambition. Drive. Promise. No need for a permanent sign above the door, we’re the ultimate pop-up.

And yet it’s even better than that… It’s the best office I’ve ever worked in and beats any try-hard-clipboard-carrying-clone-copying-Soho-hangout. Each meeting of the Baz office is unique, and each one takes us one step closer to our goals.