Mungo Beaumont, co-founder and Producer at Middle Child Theatre, explains how Creative United’s Prosper programme is helping Middle Child prepare itself for official entry into the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio.
Middle Child Theatre is a touring theatre company based in Hull — the UK City of Culture 2017 (yes, we’re proud). We were founded in 2011 and since then, we’ve been doing lots of making — be that shows, friends or mistakes.
Earlier this summer, we were lucky enough to be selected for the Prosper business support programme. Precisely a week later, we were invited to join Arts Council England’s National Portfolio. Four days after that, I got married. It was quite the week.
The Prosper programme could not have come at a better time for the company. Between now and April 2018, Middle Child’s primary focus is getting its house in order before official entry into the National Portfolio. There is a lot of business planning and policy checks, revisiting our ambition for the company, the setting up of infrastructure, so on and so on. Middle Child is only six years old, and this will be the first time any company member has ever run an NPO, so it very much feels like we’re building the plane while flying it. It’s daunting, but incredibly exciting.
To date, the team have completed a handful of webinars and two face-to-face sessions via the Prosper programme. The webinars were really useful, and lord knows I love a good Google Hangout, but the meetings with our paired mentor Gill Thewlis have so far proved particularly valuable. After an initial ‘audit’ of the company — where we’re at, where we’re trying to get to — Gill has identified three discussion areas she thinks would be beneficial to explore in more detail.
We had the first of these this week — exploring our audiences across the different strands of our work — and it really was terrifically informative. Not just because of Gill’s expertise, but also because, we find, it is always beneficial to thrash out your ideas, no matter how formed, with an outside party. Just talking out loud forces you to interrogate your weaknesses and articulate your strengths. It’s a simple yet effective exercise, and we are glad that the programme allows for this time with an experienced industry professional.
We’re not sure how we’re going to use the rest of our credits yet. That’s the beauty of the system, it really does allow you to shape your experience in a way that makes most sense for you and your organisation. With NPO preparations and the end of the programme both scheduled to finish in March 2018, we’ve no doubt that our participation in the latter will positively inform the former, for which we’re glad and thankful.
Creative United’s Prosper is a business support programme designed specifically for arts organisations, museums and libraries. Masterclasses, workshops and webinars covering a range of topics are being held across the country and are open to all — find out more and book your place.
Image courtesy of Middle Child Theatre.