Cluster Coffee Chats Episode 1

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Welcome to Cluster Coffee Chats. A podcast series that focuses on Circus and physical theatre artists in Australia. Join us as we engage in conversations and delve into the humanity behind the Australian Circus Industry. Australia is a global leader in the Circus Industry, and we want to share stories from our many talented artists & performers that make up the uniquely Australian Circus Sector.

Today we talk to Strong Woman Charmaine Childs about her incredible career as a strong woman and how becoming a circus artist all started for her.

Simple tips to get YOUR show ready for touring!

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So, you’ve been working hard this year getting your show together. Lots of time (and money) spent on rehearsals, hopefully you’ve actually had some performance time , reviews and your mind turns to the next stage!

Taking a show on the road is no easy feat but it’s certainly not impossible. You have to begin somewhere. What you do need to have is a clear plan (strategy) on what you want to do and then set about making it happen.

A couple of things you need to know about touring are

  1. There are a group of people (venue managers, presenters) that make the decisions based on what their community will get to see/experience. At a recent conference I was at a venue manager actually said “don’t bother contacting me trying to sell me your work if we don’t have a relationship”. For newcomers to the world of touring this can be pretty daunting trying to break through the barriers.
  2. It takes time to build relationships, work on the relationships, understand the touring opportunities and then make them happen.
  3. There can (and usually is) a lag time of 12-18 months between making your show and then getting your first tour.

Some things to consider

  1. The idea of doing it all is becoming a little outdated. In the ‘real’ world people engage all sorts of specialists to do work which frees them up to do what they do best. Just because you made the work doesn’t necessarily mean you need to market it, sell it, produce it etc. A great example of this is bands. They quickly engage a manager to manage their business often early in the piece leaving the band to continue writing and making songs and music.
  2. What is your skill set? Are you the best person to be spending your time setting up a tour or are there producers (such as Cluster Arts)  that you could engage to make this easier (and more successful) for you?
  3. How are you at preparing budgets, negotiating the contract, making sure per-diems, accomodation, international/national travel is included, preparing contracts for your performers, signing the contract on behalf of your show?
  4. Being successful isn’t about LUCK. It’s about strategy! Write a touring strategy for yourself. Who is your demographic? What places will consider presenting your work? How will you approach them? When will you approach them?

Consider outsourcing 

  1. Are you able to afford the cost of being present at the many arts markets and festivals that are held annually around the world to ensure you are connected and engaged with the performing arts presenters.
  2. Remember, your basic role of a producer is to bring together the people and projects which meet the goals of the artist. That goal could be anything from generating a getting a one week tour or getting a gig at Glastonbury. Either way, a producer will co-ordinate all aspects of the project, work with individuals and organisations such as event promoters, publicity agents and talent-booking agencies – as well as the artists and venues, front of house etc.
  3. Producers generally charge a fee ON TOP of the artist fee. This ensures the artist is paid their desired fee and then the producer covers their costs for a successful tour. Generally there is NO FEE generated until the tour is booked.
  4. Do you want a producer to work exclusively with you or do you want the option to continue to sell your own work. Some producers will work non exclusively – meaning that you are able to promote your own work but at the same time they are working to make that tour happen.
The first day of PAMS in Seoul Korea.

The first day of PAMS in Seoul Korea.


Cluster Arts Blog #1

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The first day of PAMS in Seoul Korea.

The first day of PAMS in Seoul Korea.

Having a little bit of fun with Snap Chat!

Having a little bit of fun with Snap Chat!

Welcome to our very first Cluster Arts blog! Thought I’d begin by outlining how and why Cluster Arts came into being.

It was the middle of 2014 when I realised that after ten years at Flipside Circus I was bored! Whilst I LOVED working with the young artists, the circus artists and the wonderful team of staff I had lost my mojo! Days had become full of budgets, meetings, report writing and planning. It was at a Board meeting I realised (when I had a moment!) that it was time! Time to re energise, to find another way of working. But What! I wanted to use my knowledge and skills in a positive way and continue to work in the arts and with some of my favourite people.

I know I am a care bear! I love to help people. I love solving problems. I love fixing things and finding NEW ways of doing things. So out of this came a new little business that helps artists to solve problems, encourages artists to find new ways of doings things – PERFECT! Cluster Arts was born (thanks to Natano Fa’anana for coming up with the great name!)

And people ask – ‘Hows Cluster Arts Going?’ and my honest answer is GREAT! I spent some time last year in a leadership role at the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts (ACPA) and this reminded me of all the things I’d grown tired of at Flipside Circus.

So no …….focus on Cluster Arts, focus on getting this little business up and running. So in September 2015 Kate Malone joined me and together we are a formidable little team that has traveled to London, been to PAMS in Seoul, Woodford Folk Festival, The Adelaide Fringe, The Sydney Festival, APAM Brisbane, The Green Room Awards, The National Youth Circus Symposium (this involved a 17 hour drive) in Wodonga and much more.

We’ve produced the Matilda Awards, we’ve successfully fundraised over $10K for Casus, reviewed job descriptions for companies, produced cabaret nights, represented companies at Arts Markets, negotiated successful tours, written successful funding applications, talked, laughed, cried and absolutely LOVE each day!

As well as this (in our spare time) we’ve opened a little incubator and performance space and CRAMMED our adoring audience in. So much fun was had…… cabaret night is 6th August and we are excited.

Love to tell you more about our cabaret nights and our wonderful space The Little Tivoli!!! Next time.