Project information

Stage One Apprentice Scheme for New Producers

A hands-on paid training opportunity for new producers wishing to learn more about commercial theatre production in a London office. The scheme places successful candidates in established producer's offices for 12 months where they are trained in all aspects of commercial theatre production.

April 2011 - March 2012

Charity information: Stage One

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  • Need


    In the current economic climate and with arts funding cuts, it is imperative that a new generation of stand-alone commercial theatre producers are identified, mentored and developed to ensure the UK's theatres are full of vibrant productions for years to come.

    The Apprentice scheme is a much-needed training ground for the industry. As commercial producing is high risk and extremely costly up front, new producers need to be given as much guidance and support if they are to succeed.


    The Apprentice Scheme couples emerging new producers with established industry mentors. Over the course of 12 months, they work in professional production offices and are trained in all aspects of getting a production to the stage including commissioning, contracting, negotiating deals with agents and theatres, budgetting, marketing and new media, PR, raising investment. Recent apprentices have worked on Shrek, Legally Blonde, The Wizard of Oz, The Misanthrope, Onassis, Dirty Dancing and Enron.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To offer ten apprentice opportunities in commercial producer offices throughout the year


    » Liaise with the industry throughout the year to identify possible productions for new apprentices to work on and to secure apprentice opportunities
    » Advertise and promote new apprenticeships as they arise,, and manage applications
    » Short list applicants and set up interviews with the producer offering to take on an apprentice, then contract them for the year
    » Advertise successful apprentice placements to the industry and beyond via website and pr

    What success will look like

    Success will be demonstrated by placing ten apprentices in the West End and seeing an increase in application numbers throughout the year as awareness of the scheme grows.

    Aim 2

    To offer a hands-on training opportunity over the course of 12 months to develop new producers


    » Work with the apprentice and the housing producer to develop an individual training programme that will address their personal needs
    » The apprentice will be required to fill in regular reports throughout the year to monitor progress and we will have update meetings with the producer
    » Apprentices are invited to attend Stage One's 3 day producer training course run by industry professionals and offering a broad overview
    » We will set up regular networking meetings for all the Apprentices to disseminate information to each other and discuss opportunities

    What success will look like

    Success will be measured by each individual's development against their initial needs and evaluation of their career progression 12 months after they finish the scheme

    Aim 3

    To offer a key to the commercial theatre industry and provide unparalleled networking opportunities


    » The producer/mentor will invite the apprentice along to all meetings to ensure they get to know marketing agencies, lawyers, agents and suppliers
    » Stage One will invite all apprentices to major West End press nights and shows to network and make industry contacts
    » Stage One hosts annual networking drinks for established and emerging producers to meet; an invaluable way to make contacts

    What success will look like

    We will offer a range of networking opportunities to get the apprentices in the door of the industry but the success of these will fall on the individuals to make the most of them

    Aim 4

    To encourage the new producers to work on their own creative projects during the course of the year


    » Apprentices are invited to apply for Stage One bursaries to develop their own productions for the stage
    » Stage One can help with introducing contacts at smaller scale venues where the apprentice could stage a show to 'cut their teeth' but with less risk
    » If an apprentice is ready and keen to make the next step, they can pitch to their housing producer to take a stake in one of their forthcoming shows

    What success will look like

    Success will be witnessing the projects staged by the apprentices and the experience and lessons they learn; we are keen to kickstart their careers in a supportive environment

    Aim 5

    To offer ongoing support and a smooth transition for apprentices at the end of their training year


    » We work with each individual apprentice to identify which path they feel is most suitable for them at the end of their apprentice year
    » If an apprentice wants to continue working for an established producer to continue to build their skills, Stage One can help to identify employment
    » If an apprentice is ready to set up his/her own production company, they can apply for a Stage One bursary to help with subsistence and set up costs

    What success will look like

    The measure of the scheme's success will be in the job's that the apprentices secure as they complete their training, or in the success of the productions they individually stage.

  • Impact


    In today’s tough financial environment, there are considerably fewer new producers equipped to raise investment and stage new productions. The Apprentice Scheme will address this issue by training exceptional entrepreneurial talent in a commercial environment and offering mentoring to help them succeed. The success of the project will be measured by the quality of the candidates as they continue their careers, and the productions they bring to the stage.


    The relationship between the housing producer and the apprentice could not 'gel' and the training could suffer. We will address this by ensuring there is regular communication and a strong reporting structure in place. We will meet with them regularly to ensure the apprentices individual needs are being met and if they're not, we will look for an alternative placement opportunity. The housing producer is required to commit £5,000 to the cost of the apprentice to avoid it being 'free labour'.


    We will send regular written reports to donors updating them on the apprentices and their developments. We will also invite individual donors to the annual networking drinks to give them an opportunity to meet the apprentices and to hear first hand how the scheme is helping them.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £150,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £150,000 Apprentices 10 x £15,000 apprentices

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Eranda Foundation £30,000 Guaranteed
    Commercial producers £50,000 Conditional
  • Background


    The apprentices will be based in commercial producers offices in Central London and will be working on productions in the West End, on tour throughout the UK and also potentially on international transfers. Previous apprentices have spent time in New York and Australia working on productions (at the cost of the housing producer).


    In 2009, 14.25 million tickets were sold to see a production in one of 52 theatres represented in membership of SOLT. London is the theatre capital of the world, producing more shows and attracting larger audiences than anywhere else. Additionally, as many people get their theatre experience outside of London via the regional touring stages. Commercial theatre is enjoyed by an extraordinary number of people and the economic and cultural benefits are far-reaching.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Stage One is the charity working in partnership with the commercial theatre industry. In addition to the funding we receive from the Society of London Theatre, the majority of theatre owners and producers also donate proceeds from ticket sales to Stage One. We are managed by a board of 23 of the best commercial theatre owners, producers and general managers. We are able to identify and set up apprentice opportunities because we work alongside and with the commercial theatre industry.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Nick Salmon

    Chief Exec of Stage One and Partner of Playful Productions, a production and general management company, specialising in West End and touring shows

    Katie Harper

    Katie has an MA in Theatre producing and is Stage One's programme manager. She sets up apprentice opportunities and is the main day to day contact.

    Zoe Davies

    Zoe has worked in the commercial theatre industry as a General Manager, and raises the finance to run Stage One's initiatives.

Fantastic exposure to all the major elements of producing a show.

John Manning, Assistant Producer, Fiery Angel Ltd