It doesn’t seem like five minutes since New Perspectives staff packed their bags and took the Farm Boy tractor to the bright lights of New York and the Brits Off Broadway festival last December. Yet as we head towards the summer holidays so much has happened to the company in 2012 it’s worth taking a moment to reflect.
It was this year that we produced our biggest show yet, working with Curve Theatre , Leicester and Derby Theatre to mount The Butterfly Lion in the studio in Leicester and on the main stage in Derby. For a company more used to performing in beautifully intimate village halls this was a real shift in our emphasis and one totally in keeping with our ambitions to extend our touring work to new markets. We experimented with new ways of engaging audiences through drawing competitions, behind-the-scenes films and trailers, along with a dedicated website www.thebutterflylion.co.uk – and received wonderful feedback from press and audiences alike. That we can confidently state that we can produce work to such a scale is a testament to the dedication of our small staff team, who deserve much praise.
For those who missed it but are fans of our work – or indeed of Michael Morpurgo stories and novels – watch this space as our plans for The Butterfly Lion don’t stop there.
The culmination of three years of development on new work for rural touring by BME writers came to fruition when we co-produced The Honey Man with Derby Live in March, prior to a national tour in April and May. Again, we received lovely press reviews, trumped only by the overwhelming support of audiences who saw the show out on tour. Once again, the production extended our engagement with a series of filmed talks and discussions that were made available online for audiences who hadn’t managed to catch them first time round.
In addition to this we completed the first year of STEP UP, our training ensemble programme which is currently being evaluated. Twelve hugely talented emerging theatre makers from across the East Midlands joined us over a period of a year to improve their knowledge and skills; taking part in a number of master classes and concluding the year by devising, rehearsing and touring a production inspired by scripts from our DREAM UP Writing Competition. The outcome for each of the participants, if social networking and their regular blogs here are anything to go by, has been huge and already we’re planning for next year’s ensemble. We’re immensely proud to have mentored and supported the Nottingham based theatre company The Gramophones, helping them to secure funding and touring dates for their work whilst simultaneously working with them to develop their financial and business tools as the company continues to develop.
Alongside our touring work, in April we stopped being an RFO and became an NPO! Part of Arts Council England’s new National Portfolio of funded organisations and a lot of hard work went into agreeing our plan of activity. Alongside this in June we were successfully awarded funding from Arts Council England’s Catalyst programme to support and develop our fundraising activity over the next three years. The Ernest Cooke Foundation awarded us funds to support the Talent Development and Engagement work carried out by our Associate Director Tilly Branson and we were also successful in a joint Doctoral Award with the University of Nottingham for Tilly to undertake a PhD that will ‘re-examine the rural tour’. Our commitment to leading the way for small scale and rural theatre sector knows no bounds.
And yet, in amongst all this activity the most important driving force behind New Perspectives is the people who make it all happen. And for the last nine years that team has been led by Daniel Buckroyd. We were saddened in April to learn that he’d be leaving us, but pleased for him as the opportunity to become Artistic Director of a major regional producing theatre doesn’t come along every day. Good luck to him in Colchester.
A lot of time was invested by our board and senior management team in undertaking a thorough recruitment process and we’re delighted that Jack McNamara will be joining us in September to lead the company into what we know will be a bright new future.
So yes, already a lot has happened this year… but Christmas is a long way off and with three more shows in pre-production, two of which will tour in the autumn, exciting projects in development and new scripts from some great writers due, we know that we can’t and won’t rest on our laurels. Our audiences certainly won’t allow it!