WIP#1 Evaluation Report

This is our accessible version of the WIP1 Evaluation Report. We welcome your feedback to continue making our work better.

We have also worked hard on a pdf that will be easier to print. You can access thistle pdf version here:

Contents

Use this list to navigate through the document. These links can be used to navigate this page. The links will take you to the corresponding sections. If you are not interested in reading the full report, we recommend that you read the executive summary, background, conclusion and recommendations. There is a lot of information here so you may even want to just skip to the recommendations. Whatever you decide, we hope you find our report informative. 

Introduction

This report is split into three main sections: About WIP1; Director Evaluations and Performer Evaluations. In About WIP1, we give an overview of the project as a whole; explaining how it came to be, the decisions we made, and the outcome. Director Evaluations gives a summary of our reflections on the project in relation to our personal creative work and how effectively we worked as a company. Performer Evaluations offers a more in-depth analysis of the performer experiences with the project.

We are sharing this evaluation so that other emerging companies might be able to benefit from our successes and failures, and in service of transparency.

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About WIP1

WIP1 was Vivid Roots Collective’s (VRC) first live event; it was streamed to an online digital performance on 25.09.21. WIP1 showcased three original pieces of work still in development. It was our first opportunity to produce new work, to initiate and engage with our audience, and to work with local performers in a semi-professional capacity.

The three performance pieces were:

  • The Owl and the Imp – written and directed by Laura Walker and performed by Alina Ben Larbi, Heather MacDonald and John Tulloch. The Owl and the Imp is a family friendly storytelling piece about the power of the voice.
  • Tales of the Witch – written and directed by Keira Smith and performed by Jay MacGregor and Vicky MacRae. Tales of the Witch is a Feminist retelling of the Tam O-Shanter poem through the eyes of its antagonist, Cutty Sark.
  • I am / I am not – written and performed by Sophie Wink. I am / I am not is a solo performance about a young woman discovering the value of choice when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

Production

We sold 37 tickets through the Eventbrite.

We only received three applications for the five performer roles that were advertised. Two were for Tales of the Witch and one was for The Owl and the Imp. Unfortunately, one of the applicants was based in Fife, which conflicted with our desire to work exclusively with Highland-based artists as they typically have less access to opportunities than those who are closer to the central belt. The remaining members of the final cast were recruited from our personal circles.

WIP1 was performed over Zoom from one of the Director’s homes. We chose an online space for this showcase despite relatively limited COVID-19 restrictions at the time as a precaution. With such a small budget, there was not any room for risk. It also relieved the budget of venue hire which we were unable to manage on a project funded entirely through crowdfunding. We will talk more about funding in the next section.

The project was produced voluntarily along with the actual writing of the pieces. Extracts of the pieces were performed at an informal rehearsed reading in February 2021 to prompt further development. Various stages for funding applications fell between January and March 2021 before deciding that we would have to go ahead with crowdfunding exclusively.

We launched our crowdfunding campaign on the 14th June via our website and social medias. The campaign summited on the 20th August with a panel event. The panel event was a dry read of small extracts of the pieces followed by discussions with the panel about the themes and issues therein. The event closed with a discussion on the needs of emerging artists in the Highlands using some prompts from our survey results.

Our casting call was announced on the 16th July with informal auditions on the 27th August and our cast announcement beginning on the 3rd September. Rehearsals were held at Eden Court on the 23rd and 24th of September, with the performance on the 25th.

Funding

We raised £1050 through our crowdfunding campaign and £274.84 through our ticket sales. After platform commissions, and paying for our Zoom subscription for the event were able to pay the performers/directors £134 each for two days of rehearsal and a full performance day.

We chose to fund this project using a crowdfunding model due to the lack of success with public funding. In general, funders were not convinced that we would be capable of delivering the project without professional (by which we interpret ‘experienced professional’) involvement. We were disappointed that we would have to produce a project on voluntary time to begin to make steps towards a funded project in the future, but we felt that this was a necessary first for the company.

We ran a reward-based crowdfunding campaign, which offered the following incentive for donations

  • TIER 1: For £5 we will follow you back on our Twitter and Instagram
  • TIER 2: For £10 you will be mentioned in a shout out on social media
  • TIER 3: For £25 you will receive a letter from Vivid Roots Collective thanking you for your contribution
  • TIER 4: For £50 you will get all of this along with a personalised video shout out on all of our platforms

The average contribution was £26.25, and the mode was £10. Tier 2 was the most common. There were no donations lower than £5. Our greatest donation was £100.

The crowdfunding campaign summited in a panel event which was an optional donation entry (see Production section for more info on the event). The event raised £53.58 before commission across 9 tickets, with an average of £5.95 per ticket.

Ticket sales for the final event are also included in our final fundraising total. Tickets were also sold as a donation, For the final event, we sold 37 tickets, priced at £5.98 (including a 98p commission). This brought in £185 after commission and was, we felt, a phenomenal response.

Director Evaluations

Our Evaluation Process

We have a rigorous evaluation strategy that evolves as VRC does. In the past, we have filled out individual evaluation forms and discussed them as a group within two weeks of the event (in the last case, this was the informal rehearsed reading that we lead in February 2021). On this occasion, we spread our evaluation process over a longer period. This was largely due to directors taking holidays but it has ended up becoming foundational to all future evaluations. Our evaluation period began the week following WIP1 on the 29th September 2021 and ended on the 3rd November 2021. In the first phase, we used the listening circle model to verbally share our answers to the evaluation headings. In the second phase we offered written responses to the verbal evaluations. In the third and final phase, we had an organic discussion to identify actions and areas of improvement.

Large sections of our evaluation concern our personal working relationships, most of which we have decided to leave out of this report to focus on more relevant aspects.

Strengths

“This process – I think – has given us a new lease of love for our creativity and our industry as a whole in regards to how we can contribute to it.”

DIRECTOR RESPONSE

STRENGTH: Fulfilment

All directors have felt fulfilled and affirmed by WIP1.

STRENGTH: Adaptation

We all recognise that we have adapted well to the evolving nature of VRC through losing a director (Sophie Bender, who withdrew from VRC in July 2021 to follow other pursuits), funding application rejections, feedback and discussions.

STRENGTH: Sales

Selling 37 tickets for the final event is a huge success for our first event. It demonstrates that there is a need for our work and that people are interested in what we have to offer.

Actions

ACTION: New roles

We have developed new roles to move into the next stage of VRC. Keira Smith is our Produce Director, who will focus on production and developing how we support artists to create their own work. Sophie Wink is our Connect Director who takes responsibility for the artists’ journey with VRC from application through to a 6-month post-production phase-out. Laura Walker is our Initiate Director who will focus on evaluation, reporting, business management and planning.

These new roles come from a recognition that directors generally felt unsure about their roles and what work they should be taking responsibility for. This has created an uneven workload and contributed to much of the indecisiveness that has come with decision-making.

ACTION: Branding

We considered that adopting a less informal tone on social media and tightening up our company voice will help to improve our branding. This will mean that communications across various channels and regardless of the director initiating will be consistent.

This feeling stems from our scoring in our evaluation. We rate our equal share of work / communication / professionalism / and relationship out of 10. In this evaluation, professionalism ranked lowest on average (7/10). We also recognised from some audience and performer responses that our online audience don’t read the information in full so shorter, more concise communication could help this.

ACTION: Post-show discussions and feedback

In future, we will curate an audience for work-in-progresses as we did with our rehearsed reading (RR). This way we can invite audiences who we know will have the confidence and understanding to offer criticism and insight. We will also include a note regarding post-show discussions on future WIP or RR events if they are open to the public. We will offer an email and online survey to gather audience feedback from those who are not confident speaking in a group and we will market the post-show discussion as optional.

Overall, we deemed the WIP1 event to be unsuccessful as it failed to satisfy the purpose of a work-in-progress. Although we had a significant audience, they were not able or willing to offer critique so that none of our pieces were offered suggestions or questions to provoke development.

ACTION: Advertisement

We should work at developing a better relationship with press and radio so that we are not relying so heavily on social media advertisement. When we produce a funded project, we will consider how we can produce collateral (posters and flyers) in a way that is environmentally sustainable.

Upon discussion, we recognised that advertising exclusively through social media creates barriers for those who don’t use these platforms. This also limits our audience reach.

ACTION: Relaxing geographic criteria

Moving forward, we will establish a contractor ratio that prioritises Highland-based artists rather than only accepting Highland-based applicants. This will a) improve uptake of opportunities generally; b) promote the interaction of rural/central arts; c) increase our range for ‘recruitment’. We pledge to guarantee all Highland-based artists an audition/interview but will still be willing to accept applications from outwith the Highland area.

This is in response to the lack of applications for paid performance roles, despite a pool of students from the local Drama and Production degree.

ACITON: Tech support

In future, it would be helpful to have someone dedicated to running the digital space as it would have allowed us to track when people are leaving, it would allow us to accept people entering the space during performances, answer any technical concerns and generally help the event run smoothly.

We failed to document the attendance for each individual performance. This impedes our evaluation of the times and shows that people are more interested in.

Performer Evaluations

Our Evaluation Process

As working with performers in a professional capacity is new to us as individuals and as a company, it was important to us that we develop a strong evaluation process for performer experience. Our aims are in support of emerging artists so evaluation also helps us to understand how well we are fulfilling our company aims. We also hoped the evaluation would highlight the needs and opportunities that VRC could talk to with future work, support, and opportunities. Evaluations were sent via email to our performers, which was our method of communication throughout the project.

We received 4/5 evaluations. We attribute this 80% rate to our lack of postproduction communication with performers. We see this as a failure on our part as we want our performers to feel involved, encouraged and supported by VRC. We will talk more on our actions in our actions section.

Results

This is a question-by-question summary of the results

1a. How would you rate your experience with VRC?

Our lowest score was 8, and highest was 9. The average was 8.75.

1b. Why?

Generally performers expressed that it was enjoyable and supportive. One performer identified some conflicts in communication from directors and another found the offer of support overwhelming. They suggested an outreach strand to teach / introduce industry skills so that people can be more informed of what support they need / should expect.

One performer didn’t answer.

2a. How likely to work with VRC again?

Our lowest score was 9, and highest was 10. The average was 9.75.

2b. Why?

Two performers expressed that they believed in VRC’s company aims and values. There was a general sense that it was an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. One performer stated that they were excited by the future of VRC and its directors and that they found the process stress-free.

One performer didn’t answer.

3a. How was the rehearsal process?

Our lowest score was 8, and highest was 10. The average was 8.75.

3b. Why?

“The rehearsal process for me was one of the best I have had in all my years of acting/performing”

PERFORMER RESPONSE

All of the performers expressed that the rehearsal process was enjoyable. Three performers specifically mention the safe/supportive environment as a factor in their enjoyment. One performer stated that there was equality between directors and performers and another identified the direction to be helpful and that group warm-ups encouraged bonding and sharing.

Two performers said they would have preferred more time / an extra day to rehearse but both understood why that was not possible. One performer requested more opportunities to work and share as a whole group.

“A really comfortable rehearsal space where fun and our wellbeing is just as important as working towards the final piece. I could be silly too without feeling awkward.”

PERFORMER RESPONSE

4a. How was the performance day?

Our lowest score was 7, and highest was 10. The average was 8.75.

4b. Why?

Two performers appreciated there being enough time on the day to do warm-ups and run through pieces before performing. There was a general sense that performers were comfortable and supported on the day and also happy to perform after so long.

Three points for improvement were that the day felt very long, that it would have been nice to see all the pieces (the space was too small for an audience), and that a group celebration after would have been a nice way to end.

5. How well did VRC support your needs?

All performers felt supported personally and that there was a consideration for medical issues. One performer specifically identified gender neutral language as a supportive aspect. One performer specified the daily checkins in the space and guidance on self-assessment and invoicing to be beneficial. One performer was grateful for accommodation to be provided due to their travel.

One performer felt there could have been more clarity on the time commitment as they found it stressful not knowing specific days and times.

6. How will this benefit you in future?

“I find myself wanting more theatre like this to emerge and [I] am looking forward to working on future projects.”

PERFORMER RESPONSE

Benefits identified were: It is a gateway to access more opportunities / being registered for self-assessment / it has expanded their network / they have more confidence / the experience has allowed them to reflect on how to improve their craft.

7. How can VRC support you in future?

“I am unsure in what way as of yet but [I] know [I] can email and get the best support”

PERFORMER RESPONSE

Potential opportunities for support: Scratch nights / CV feedback / building a network of Highland artists for sharing and opportunities / application feedback / sharing opportunities / writing and dramaturgical feedback.

Key Points

Two interesting points that we have picked out from the feedback are:

an overwhelming offer of support

We are considering offering forms in the application / audition stage for artists to tell us what support they would like in the first instance in case they find the offer intimidating.

clarity on time commitment

This we found interesting because we were clear on our dates and times throughout. The casting call displayed had the rehearsal and performance dates, we reinforced this at auditions and told performers to expect 10am-5pm rehearsal times (which ended up being the times we stuck to) and this was all conveyed in contracts and emails between the audition and performance.

One way we decided that might make this less of an issue in future is by sending out contracts within the week of auditions. As this is a legal document, it might mean the information is more likely to be retained. Tightening up our social media communication may also help this as part of the issue in this case is likely that the performer did not read the full social media post.

Actions

Performer Journeys

Sophie Wink as the Connect Director is developing a plan for performer journeys which will focus on support and communication throughout their time with VRC. We hope this will improve post-production communication so that we are able to reach 100% take up on artist feedback.

Outreach

We think the suggestion from one of our performers to reach out to educational institutions to introduce industry skills would be really helpful for artists as they will better understand what their needs might be. Furthermore, it will help us advocate for careers in the arts which is a personal passion that we can talk to.

Time

We hope that the work we have done this year will help us to be more successful in funding applications in the future. Public-funded projects will allow us to have longer and properly paid rehearsal periods. We will also consider longer rehearsal periods than we would normally plan for so that performers with additional support needs and those who are still growing in confidence feel under less pressure.

Morale

We will endeavour to include a group social event at the end of all projects to improve morale and deliver a message of equality, support and community.

Future support

VRC will build all of these suggestions into future project communication. We are already working on plans for a networking event for Highland artists.

Conclusion

Overall, WIP1 was a successful event in testing and demonstrating our skills as a company and as creative practitioners. We are confident that all of the performers and directors found this to be a fulfilling, inspiring and rejuvenating event following 18 difficult months of COVID-19. This evaluation has helped us look to the future; both affirming some of the plans we already have in place and challenging us to think creatively to respond to the needs and questions that are constantly emerging.

We are sharing this evaluation with the public in the belief that our work should be transparent and we hope that others can learn from our failures and successes. We welcome further provocations as they help us to create more relevant plans.

Acknowledgements

In-Kind Support: Eden Court

Performers: Alina Ben-Larbi, Heather MacDonald, Jay MacGregor, Vicky MacRae, and John Tulloch.

Panelists: Lesley Mickel; Moot Point Collective (Joe Hunter and Abbie Craigmyle); Lindsay Dunbar; and Framework Theatre (Emma Ruse and Georgia Smith).

Donors: Lisa Cooper, Lindsay Dunbar, Finlay Cassie, Annie MacDonald, Josh Berryman, Jack MacGregor, Thomas Walker, Shirley Widdop, Emma Ruse, Keith and Amy Bender, Luke Carmichael, Angie Morris, Jordan Brennan, Alan Macleod, Corey Walker, Helen Smith, Rachel Venturini, Stephanie Smart, Vicky MacRae, Bronwyn Dickson, Sheila Wink, Ann McPherson, Rachel Haston, Jack Elvey, Jennifer Watt, Courtney North, Jamie Arnold, Luke Montgomery, Stephen Wink, Gillian Sim, Rosemary MacDonald, Lesley Goodburn, Chris Carrol, Iain Reid, Lou Brodie, Monia Ben-Larbi, Alina Ben-Larbi, Ayesha Naples, Jo Czesak, Martimer Hedges and Jay MacGregor.

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