Nurturing a company from great idea to international sensation

Chores – Hoopla Clique

 

Part One – In the beginning…

Twelve months ago Julian Roberts & Patty Heilmann came to Cluster Arts concerned and disappointed that their contract with the QLD Arts Council had fallen over and they were owed money.  Their touring had been cancelled – due to the QLD Arts Council going into liquidation.  

Chores had done some touring and these two totally believed in the show and asked for Cluster’s support to get Chores on the road again.  

Cluster Arts prides itself on being passionate about the companies and work we tour. We hadn’t even seen the show and at this stage Chores needed new images, costumes, a promotional video and the opportunity to get in front of some audience members to get reviews and engagement, and generally run the show in.

Gabriela Gallardo, Marketing Manager at Flipside Circus, created an awesome poster and Katie Bennett, Embellish Photography, took some great images and helped develop the brand. Markwell Presents created a video promo and full length video.  

 Together (Cluster, Julian and Patty) we wrote a one page carefully crafted business strategy – this clearly outlined what Chores goals were and made sure we were all on the same page. 

 This takes time, but is well worth the effort and often the input from an external source is invaluable. It helps to have other viewpoints and also to point out obvious oversights or unrealistic expectations.  

The mind of the artist in collaboration with the mind of a creative business mind can truly be a game changer to making amazing ideas and outcomes! 

In all of this Cluster Arts fully supported Chores – in a business sense, financially at times and emotionally (at other times) in getting this together.  

 

It is at this stage that you have to ask yourself the key questions

What’s your current reality? Be honest with yourself and your team.

What’s your desired future? Are you in agreement with how you see your future? Is it realistic?

What skills do you have in taking your show and getting it seen by the right people?

Do you have the right headspace to commit to the production? Do you have the available time required?

 

Part Two – Chores takes its first steps 

Next we looked for an affordable theatre to self-promote the show. Our sole aim was video footage and images. Tanja Greulich at Byron Bay Community Theatre offered us a great deal at her theatre and we self-presented two shows in May 2017. With minimal promotion and lots of hard work from Cluster Arts, Julian and Patty we had 154 people into the theatre and it rocked! 

We covered our costs – got our video footage –which allowed us to move onto our next goals. Go Team! 

 Next we secured a weekend gig at Kidtopia Festival in Parramatta and also some schools touring – helping to cover some bills and provide an opportunity for further development of the show.  

Cluster Arts attended the Seoul Performing Arts Market and Shanghai Performing Arts Market in October 2017. We represented Chores as part of the Australia Council delegation – we were self-funded – had lots of interest – especially from China. Conversations are in early stages but Cluster Arts will attend China again in 2018 and continue discussions.  

These markets are a beast – but are definitely worth attending to network and understand the international market better.  

Following Kidtopia, Patty decided to follow his other dream – University – and he and Julian agreed on a fair split to allow the show to continue touring and Patty to receive his fair share of the development.  

 

Part Three – Chores on tour

 

Chores was accepted into the Woodford Folk Festival and Julian and Derek Llewellin came together as business partners. What followed was a major change in the show to include Derek’s skills and artistic input.   

 Derek and Julian invested much money and time making a new set, introducing new costumes and props, and hours and hours and hours and hours of testing and re-testing material, and more development, and more changes until finally (well nearly) they were ready.  

 More photos, videos, media releases were created and out of this came a VERY strong brand for Chores.  

 We were on track. 

 

Then the decision to do the Fringe circuit! Do we do it or not? Why? What are our goals? How will it help us reach our goals? Can we afford to do both Perth & Adelaide Fringe? Can we afford not to? 

We spoke to other Fringer’s – Jamie at Trash Test, Malia at Children are Stinky, El at Gluttony and the outcomes we wanted were simple. Reviews, and awards. Simple eh?  

We knew money would be harder to get than reviews and awards. Ahhhh……the chicken and the egg!

Well, it’s stressful, expensive and difficult – flyering every day, looking at slow ticket sales, reducing prices through half price tix, talking about what we could have done differently or better, trying to understand audience patterns, developing great online social media content. 

There is no simple solution to a successful Fringe – there are just many variables that you need to do – a range of things to increase your presence and get some cut through.

Well, we got some awesome reviews AND won two awards. We received a Nomination for Best Children’s Show at Perth FRINGEWORLD and won BANK SA Weekly Winner for Best Children’s Show, which showed us that the show was ready to go large. We also increased our Facebook presence enormously and developed excellent social media materials.

Following the Australian Fringe Festivals, the Chores team headed to the Victorian Showcase 2018. We presented a 12-minute excerpt and received great interest for touring in 2019. 

Sadly our own state of Queensland is harder to crack. Presenters and venues around our state are silent about Chores for their venues which has us asking lots of questions of why? Why is there so much enthusiasm for Chores everywhere but in Queensland? This seems to be a theme for many other great Queensland shows – but that’s another story…

 

Part Four – Chores around the world!

In May 18 we headed to Brighton Fringe not expecting too much, a bit sceptical but quietly confident we’d have a good season.  We developed a solid promotional campaign with a mixture of hard collateral and online presence, the team hit the ground flyering every day, all of our team both in Brighton and back home were pushing hard and… the season sold out! Not only that, but we added two extra shows by special request from the venue. The Otherplace  at The Warren are awesome and the Brighton UK audiences are really interested, love flyering and talking to you about your show. We loved engaging with the really enthusiastic Brighton audiences – exciting. We were asked back for 2019! 

 Chores then went to Europe and the Prague Fringe Festival. Gorgeous venue and generous audiences – they LOVED it!  

 Another sold out season and Chores won the PRAGUE FRINGE Inaugural Audience Choice Award.  

Both Prague and Brighton are curated and the teams working on the Fringes are enthusiastic and really great to work with. Goals here were to test the European audience, make new contacts, and look into 2019 and 2020 to see what’s possible. We achieved them all! 

 

NOW the biggie! Edinburgh Fringe! 23 shows in the Piccolo at Assembly Gardens. But we all know the world goes to Edinburgh don’t we?  

Ticket sales in Edinburgh are already strong indicating we are on track for a great season. We’ve invested in a strong marketing campaign, hired a Publicist, our brand is recognisable and we’ve discovered ways to cover costs for this that ensures a solid return on our investment.  

But before we tackle Edinburgh, we flew home to have a fabulous sold-out show on our home turf, at the Ipswich Civic Centre!

In short, Cluster Arts provided the following support for Chores in the first twelve months of working together: 

  • Provided a  business and touring strategy for Hoopla Clique 
  • Brand awareness – social media, sector involvement
  • Complete tour ready kit – images, video, marketing copy, tour kit for promoters, graphic design
  • Secured 6 tours
  • Represented Hoopla Clique at 5 Arts Markets in 2017/18 including Australia, China, Japan, Seoul and New Zealand
  • Worked with Hoopla Clique to develop merchandise to be released at Edinburgh 2018

 Stay tuned the Chores story is definitely NOT over!