Ask the Expert
answers from David Fry on Tour Booking and Producing
What do you consider the best policy to be for tour booking?
1 Timing (try to get your info out 12 months in advance)
2 Image (at the same time include final strong image)
3 Title (catchy or classic or classic with a twist)
4 Audience Appeal (needs to be clear who the show is for and that the venue can attract that audience)
Are you happy to receive regular emails and Company updates?
Yes but only updates on planned tours
Do you consider calling and leaving messages badgering?
Yes - by all means make a call and leave a message but leave it at that
Far better to send snappy email with image and contact number
If Promoter is keen - expect a response
Is tour booking a sales job?
If product is right it will sell itself
Promoters know what they want and need in their programme
How far in advance have you already decided what you want to book?
Large Scale - between 8 and 12 months
Mid Scale - between 6 and 12 months
Small Scale - 6 months
What do you look for in initial contact?
Great image and title
Does sending hard copies of publicity material still work?
It can be helpful but not always necessary
If a show has already toured - it’s interesting to see quotes and tour dates and ticket prices
How much of what you programme is work that you have already seen and work that you commission from scratch?
50% has usually been seen in advance
A further 25% will be known to the Venue - either a regular Company or a well-known Company
Only 25% of the remaining programme is available to new companies
10% of these new companies may be commissioned usually at the small scale
How can you in your professional role and as Chair of PANDA support North West based Producers?
The Lowry's Studio is committed to developing and presenting the work of local writers, artists and companies.
Brand new work is presented under the banner Neverbeenseen
Anyone wishing to be considered for inclusion simply has to contact The Lowry's Programming Team
What more do you think can be done to support emerging Companies in the region?
PANDA offers the best support system for emerging artists and needs more investment to allow them to help more companies
The Arts Council could also help artists showcase their work at other festivals and events to allow them to be seen by more people who may then book their shows.
South East Arts offers a good example of promoting their artists beyond their own region.
Too often artists are left to fend for themselves and may not have the tools to sell themselves.
The British Council successfully promotes emerging artists during the Edinburgh Showcase but more could be done.
What do you consider to be the best financial option for a small scale Company – fixed guarantees or box office splits?
In today's climate guarantees are becoming a thing of the past.
Venues and Companies need to share the risk and a box office split sometimes with a first call is much more common
Most companies need to be flexible enough to accept some splits, some calls and if possible some guarantees.
Are there any gaps in the market that venue programmers are looking to fill?
Any show needs to be theatrical, entertaining and tell a good story.
Anything that may relate to the syllabus may be looked upon more favourably.
Relating to an audience is the most important thing - telling someone's story is also important.
Combining some dance or physicality or puppets or circus skills with telling the story is useful.
Mixing art forms, using projection or the use of new digital media is usually interesting.
Burlesque is still growing in terms of popularity and evolving into narrative based shows.
Shakespeare is always popular but needs to be re-imagined.
Small scale musicals are becoming more popular.
Great acting is usually a winner and solo performances can do very well.