How the Showcase happens

| by Eleanor Turney

In this, the twentieth year of our Edinburgh Showcase, Eleanor Turney talks to Showcase Manager Becky Hinton about the logistics of running such a big event and what’s changed in the past few years

I’ve worked on the Edinburgh Showcase since 2007. My first encounter with it – as a rabbit in headlights! – was working on the information desk rather than organising the whole thing! I’ve been the Edinburgh Showcase Manager for the past five showcases, working to introduce a selection of the best UK theatre and dance to our international delegates.

Even though it only happens once every two years, the Showcase does kind of take over my life! I’m based in London, but make many trips up to Edinburgh to meet with colleagues and everyone else who comes together and works so hard to make this extraordinary week happen. This is alongside meetings with all of our other partners and collaborators from around the UK to make sure that everything runs smoothly, including Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council Wales and Wales Arts International.  

The 29 shows in the 2017 Showcase itself were selected by a curatorial panel of international programmers, UK arts professionals and members of the Theatre and Dance team, from around 300 applications. This was the first time that we had more external voices on the panel; in previous years the whole programme has been curated by the Theatre and Dance team.

By the time Showcase week comes around, we also then add a number of Late Recommendations – shows we would love to share with delegates that either didn’t apply to be part of the Showcase, or were unable to be seen as finished works during the application process. We also, for the first time, have two shows in the main programme that are part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

By the time Showcase week comes around, we also then add a number of Late Recommendations – shows we would love to share with delegates that either didn’t apply to be part of the Showcase, or were unable to be seen as finished works during the application process

Alongside these shows, we also publish a list of artists to watch, whose work we have seen during the Fringe. These are exciting or up-and-coming artists whose work we want to introduce to delegates. All of our selected artists are also invited to our networking breakfasts, where they can meet other artists, producers, programmers and promoters from around the world.  

This year, half the companies in the Showcase are new entries and we are working hard to encourage a more diverse range of applicants. We’re doing this through our Artists Development programme which is in its second edition, and the Emerging Producers Programme which we partner with the Fringe on. There’s some amazing talent in the UK and we want to make sure that it is fully represented in our Showcase.  

In addition, we have a programme of networking events, talks and pitch sessions alongside the shows. There is also the trade fair, which this year we increased to include 30 companies. It’s a platform for mid- to large-scale companies which are not performing at the Festivals to introduce their work to the delegates; we also added more agencies and festivals that represent a portfolio of artists. 

This year, half the companies in the Showcase are new entries and we are working hard to encourage a more diverse range of applicants

We’ve got 200 delegates joining us for the week from 60 different countries, all looking to forge international links and find amazing UK work to take to their audiences. Add that to the 88 companies that form part of the Showcase in some way or other – it’s a small affair, some might say!

We’re looking for work that is ready to tour internationally and has something interesting and important to say, and, over the years, work from the Showcase has gone pretty much everywhere! It’s so exciting to see the wealth of UK talent and all those people coming together in the room during the week.

We’re constantly tweaking and updating the way that we work, taking on board feedback from delegates and artist to refine what we do. It’s been a very satisfying experience for me that over the Showcases I’ve managed to implement changes, which have hopefully improved both the delegates’ and companies’ experiences of the Showcase. 

We’ve got 200 delegates joining us for the week from 60 different countries, all looking to forge international links and find amazing UK work to take to their audiences

For example, when I first worked on the info desk, ticketing for Showcase was a very painful process, which I know several delegates and colleagues from around the world will remember, and A LOT of time was spent toing and froing. We now have a live box office running throughout the week for delegates and a live availability screen. It’s the little things that I get excited about. At its heart, the Showcase is about sharing the best UK work with overseas delegates, and we’re working hard to do that in as easy a way as possible.

 The highlight for me each time is when Showcase week comes around, and we finally get to see it all come together and actually happen. It’s important to recognise the amazing contribution artists make to the Showcase and the exciting conversations that go on during the week. Getting to see delegates and overseas colleagues again, some of whom I’ve known now for years, and meet the faces behind the emails of others from around the world, as well as the artists and companies from the sector. All of this is what makes #EdShowcase!

Follow us on Twitter @uktheatredance for all the Showcase updates.  

 

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