Glasgow’s newest professional company, Theatre In The Sand, achieved the rare feat of finding two first-time sponsors before their Edinburgh Fringe production of Lorca’s Yerma had even gone into rehearsal. As theatres across the land face closure and Arts Council budgets tighten. Valerie Edmond tells MARK FISHER everything he wanted to know about business sponsorship but was afraid to ask.
‘We are now existing in a climate where business sponsorship seems to be the way ahead.‘ says Valerie Edmond as she prepares to drop the guise of money-raiser and take on the role of lead actor in her own company. ‘I think that‘s wrong. It should be funded from the government. We‘re being forced in to a situation where you have to streamline. market and promote.‘ Indeed. but what are the special qualities that endeared this unknown company to sponsors Peckham‘s Delicatessen and Grand Holdings and where are the pitfalls in the mysterious world of big business? Valerie Edmond tells it like it is: Get past the receptionist ‘Receptionists must have stopped 1001 companies from ever starting up. They ask you what it‘s in connection with. you say sponsorship and they just say. “Write in. Bye!“ Find out when the secretary goes on lunch or, if the business man has been in meetings all day and then she tells you that he’s on another line. you just hang up. get on a bus and go straight into the office because you know he‘s there. You can sometimes kid the
secretary on that you’ve made an appointment with him. He can‘t think why he made an appointment, you say “Give me five minutes and I‘ll tell you why you made it.“
Get some phrases ‘There‘s nothing like someone from the Arts walking in and saying “We feel that we’d be able to realise your marketing objectives“. All those words marketing, activities, opportunities, strengths, weaknesses, threats make them think the individual is sussed about their world.‘
Stay sharp. ‘You can‘t go in looking like an artist. You‘ve got to go in
with a suit and a briefcase. You must
look at the company, ask yourself why you’ve approached them and
you must know their company inside
out. If they are good business men they always want to expand. Pander to their egos, tell them the reason you’ve come to them is because of al
they’ve done and that you want their
involvement. Always go to the top. Anyone who is at the top is usually an exceptional person and will recognise another group ofpeople who think they’re exceptional. A lot of people are seduced by energy.’
Forget the arty hits ‘Businesses are not
interested in the artistic outlines of a
company. They want to know what’s
in it for them. That was a really hard thing for me to come to terms with.
You go in in a cultural cloud, you’re surrounded by artistic wool and you
try and spin this beautiful tapestry in
front ofthem saying what a wonderful world it‘d be if there was more theatre. They sit there drumming their fingers on the desk, holding phone calls and waiting for you to get to the point which is how their reputation will be enhanced by
being associated with your company.
That's when you start to sell your image.’
Believe in yourself ‘You’ve got to have pride in what you‘re doing. If two pe0ple get together to do a play about a cupboard door they have an
entitlement to ask pe0ple for money.
Your first step is to approach people as an equal. You go in to do business you don‘t go in to make friends.‘ Yerma by Theatre In The Sand, 14 Aug—2 Sept, 7pm at The Lyceum Studio, Grindlay Street.
STIRLING STUFF Stirling Festival (29 July—13 Aug)
Referring to Andy Cameron and George Chisholm. the official programme for the 1989 Stirling Festival. now going into its fourteenth year. exclaims:
TOPTHE BlLLI‘Turn the page. and there isthe Festival Administrator informing us that ‘The keynote ofthe Stirling Festival has become community involvement'. Hosting over 300 events. this year‘s festival is a familiar combination ofevents that encourage participation. and which defy the mainstream label. We are not here to gloat over heroes. past or present. Perhaps for this
tended to advertise itself in the most reticent manner possible. Encouraging community involvement has arrested the efforts to attract people from outwith the Stirling area.
To business. The main
will be the Snapdragon Circus. which is an open invitation to kids to try out circus skills for themselves. Snapdragon also want to introduce more formal arts like dance and mime into the circus repertoire. Pop hipsters. The Big Dish. return to Stirling still sounding like a cross between Edwyn Collins and Roddy Frame (twee guitar melody) and Simple Minds (semi-stadium rock). despite reforming for their recent album. There is an increased effort to broaden the festival‘s horizons with some international acts. including Hungarian band Vujicisics. The Real Sounds of Africa who come from Zimbabwe. and American rock gospel ’ singer Janny Grein. The Prague Chamber Orchestra will complement an appearance by the SNO.
napdraoon Circus at the Stirling Festival
reason. Stirling has always
event during the first week
Local interest is spearheaded by the Fisheye Theatre Company who have put together two productions. Liz Lochhead's Blood And Ice is a meditation on the creative sensibility of Frankenstein authoress Mary Shelley. while the locally-written. locally-set Umbrellas is. it says here. about how. ‘Silver Screen Hollywood comes to a girl who works in a bank‘. Young. vibrant. determinedly street-credible. And don‘t forget. of course. Andy and George. Box Office 0786 71588. Administration 0786 70151. (Douglas McCabe)
In the Traverse Theatre‘s publicity brochure. the 3 illustration for Blending In. the third play ofthe main season. depicts an ordinary. black and white street scene. containing ordinary people. Well . . . not quite. because two of the people have big. brightly coloured. square faces. Rather more a case ofstanding out. you might say. than blending in. So you know you‘re not dealing with red/ordinary people.
‘lt‘s a very arantgarde piece.‘ says director Kim Dambaek. ‘and I don‘t think anything like it has been seen in the British theatre. [think it‘ll bea novelty - a really big surprise.‘
The play‘s French author Michel Vinaver was once a leading marketing man for
lKim Dambaek. IPhoto Sean Hudson
Gillette. one of his duties beingthe promotion of Right Guard anti- pcrspirant. When he went offthe rails to becomea playwright. he did so with a vengeance. ‘His style of writing is without any sort oflinear logic.‘ says Dambaek. ‘There isn‘t a plot as such — you start by looking at a very small unit. and as you draw back a collage starts emerging. which isn‘t aperfect. realistic picture. but it‘s composed of many. many different aspects which in the long run make upa whole. His inspiration as an artist is much more from painters and musicians than from the theatre. and he‘s been especially inspired by the cubist painters.
Dambaek promises humour. though he says it is neither a comedy nor a tragedy. ‘Vinaver.’ he says. ‘has a great warmth. and he sees both the good and the ugly side of people. There are a lot of comic situations because people may see themselves as one thing but the situation they find themselves in is quite the opposite. It‘s a bit like the study of human behaviour in film-makers like Jacques Tati.‘
Set in the after-sales department ofa food-mixer factory. and written during the 1970s. Blending In is a surprisingly topical piece. ‘What Vinaver takes up.‘ explains Dambaek. ‘is very much themes that we‘re now dealing with. goinginto Europe in 1992'. about enterprise and business takeovers and small units being encompassed into larger units.‘
But the message is neither pro- nor anti-capitalist. ‘lle's been part of that system. and although he‘s chosen not to end his life as a big businessman. he won‘t come down with one viewpoint as to how the world should be. He sucks up different viewpoints and then uses his writing
to put these across. because he can always understand the way people get those ideas. where they get them from.‘
The translation of Blending In is by Edinburgh man Ron Butlin. and has been described by Vinaver as the best translation ofhis work to date. The challenge now is to make it an entertaining and engaging piece oftheatre. ‘Ofcourse.‘ says Dambaek. ‘it‘s up to the people working on it to make an interpretation out ofit. And I must say it's going very well because the actors have a very positive attitude to it —- they‘re enjoying the
The List 28July - 10 August 1989 23