The house team are just back from a trip up to Edinburgh where we supported 30 venue programmers from across our network to attend the festivals. The show reports are still rolling in but we estimate that across the cohort we’ll have seen in the region of 400 shows ranging in scale and size from intimate audio shows to new musicals.
For some, it is their first visit to the Fringe and we help them to navigate the unwieldy programme and labyrinth city streets, and for everyone we run a WhatsApp group so they can share recommendations – and things to avoid. It’s also a rare chance for programmers to chat with other programmers. From our annual survey we know that the average number of full-time programming staff in member venues has dropped to 1.4 and we recognise that it can be a lonely job – the introduction meal, breakfasts and evening catch-ups are there to discuss what programmers have seen but also a rare chance to share ideas, worries and challenges with peers in other organisations.
massive thanks for the incredible experience of my first Edinburgh as a programmer… I wouldn’t have been here without this amazing opportunity
We’re also there to find work that might form part of our touring offer so as well as hosting, the team are catching as many shows as possible – including international work. This can be expensive to see in its home country – both environmentally and financially – so we take advantage of the opportunity to see work from around the world.
While we’re primarily focused on supporting venues in the Southeast of England, we know that every venue needs great artists and companies to present their work so we also attend showcases and we, along with 6 venue representatives, took part in a speed dating session with artists who are looking to tour their work. It was a great opportunity to explain a bit more about what house does and the sort of work we’re looking to support.
It is a huge privilege and a highlight of the job to go each year but it is hard work with long days and lots of talking, listening and thinking. But we know it’s worthwhile when we get feedback from the venues about just how much it means for them to be able to go. But for now, we’ll hang up our walking shoes and spreadsheets for another year and focus on getting the best of the festival in front of audiences down South.
I feel truly inspired and am looking forward to getting some things booked