Liz Strange, Strange Theatre, Edinburgh (Level 1 and Level 2 Awardee)
Liz is 31 years old and lives in Edinburgh and has written this case study in her own words.
As a professional actor and community educator with strong social values, I saw that the performing arts talent that exists in Scotland is not being used to its full potential, and is being exploited. I also found it increasingly frustrating that theatres and community projects are so heavily limited by grant funding. I wanted to create a business model which values performing artists and enables financial independence to challenge a range of social issues.
- Exports stock film clips to an online international market
- Profit re-invested in live theatre, issue based drama projects and skills development groups
- Incorporated in November 2010 as a Community Interest Company limited by shares
- 4800 people reached through theatre in education, live theatre productions and arts events
- 25 freelance theatre and film professionals employed, 50 artists and crafts makers showcased
- 2011-12 income: £44,000, composed of 63% grant, 30% sales, and 7% social investment
- Level 1 award of £4,416 in November 2010 - completed
- Level 2 award of £20,000 in June 2011 - active
Journey High Points
- Export Sales of stock film clips on istockphoto.com achieving year 1 targets
- Great reviews from critics and audiences for ‘Goddess’, our original sell-out theatre production at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, International Women’s Day
- Repeat business for our bullying & firework safety performance in all Edinburgh schools.
- High profile contract to create a play exploring sexualisation of young people and perform it for the Scottish Parliament.
Journey Low Points
- Delays caused by slow approval of film clips and technical specification changes
- Recruitment – poor performance from freelancers and not having sufficient back up has placed a significant burden on me as the leader of the organisation.
- Fundraising frustration with funders who do not understand, or fund, our legal structure.
- Exhaustion and ill health have been the personal result of a very demanding year
The Difference Made
Strange Theatre has a rapidly growing reputation and is becoming recognised by other major arts organisations for its entrepreneurial, high quality, professional approach. Our productions have, on a local and national level, contributed to raising the profile of gender inequality, creating a platform for women’s voices, and communicated messages about bullying, firework safety, and the sexualisation of young people, to target audiences. Networks have grown, partnerships and clients have emerged. Demand for our varied range of products has exceeded our capacity to deliver.
Vital Firstport Ingredients
- Level 1 gave the chance to trial the initial idea. Level 2 gave me personal financial stability and a fantastic opportunity to commit to development of the business model. With a small family I would not have otherwise been able to do this.
It has been an incredibly demanding start-up period. Strange Theatre’s business model and strategy requires refinement and focus, but is proving its potential to scale up. We have identified essential roles and profiles for new Executive and Non-Executive directors necessary to run the company, and are exploring propositions for a social investment based strategy for growth. However due to the significant impact on my personal health I am taking some time out to consider whether I can continue with it or not, and to explore alternative options for its future.