For the most part, particularly at smaller scales, Outdoor Arts is an interactive medium. Choosing your performing collaborators and thinking about your audience will be key to your successful production.
✔ Check that the content and style of your work is suitable for your intended audience. Use the acronym RASA to check that it is:
Relevant for your chosen audience? The beauty of outdoor arts is its ability to reach those not regularly involved in arts events. This means that whilst the content of the work might be niche, the presentation of the work needs to be accessible to wide ranging audiences including those who may just happen upon your work unexpectedly. Think also about the relevance of the work to the spaces and places where you will be performing.
Appropriate for the public space? Some bookers will not take work that is overtly political, contains sex scenes, foul language or nudity as audiences can mostly be families.
Safe: Some bookers will not book work where they perceive a potential risk to the audience. This does not mean that you should not tackle political or risky work, but you would need to risk assess it thoroughly to reassure bookers. Due to Covid, physical contact with the audience can be problematic, see Licencing, Health and Safety.
Accessible for a diverse audience? The production needs to communicate to audiences of all ages, cultures, languages and abilities in outdoor venues where there may not be seating, amplification or staging. Think about making work accessible to people with disabilities (audio description, sign language interpretation, seating for people that are unable to stand for long periods of time, access to site specific work, trails and parades for people with mobility issues).
✔ Look for and seek to work with:
Performers/Musicians that reflect the nature of the work you want to make in terms of diversity, accessibility and relevance to your intended audience. For smaller scales of work, you need performers that are flexible, able to improvise, enjoy direct contact with the audience, are happy to perform out of a back of a van or change in an empty shop. For larger scales of work you will be looking for very particular skills to suit your spectacle – e.g. aerialists, fire and flow artists. If you are creating work that will tour, you are also looking for performers who are prepared to ‘muck in’, taking a role of company manager, packing costumes, doing running repairs on the road, loading and unloading the touring vehicle and driving. Musicians will need to be aware of how their music will carry outdoors and the risks of poor weather on their instruments.
Designers/Set/Prop/Costume Makers with an understanding of how the elements will affect their creations e.g., the wind can blow away props and sets that are not firmly secured, or if placed out of your sight, could be removed by passing audiences. Layered costumes can help – it can be very hot outdoors, wet, or freezing.
Directors and Producers that have experience of making and distributing work for the outdoors in the context/form in which you want to work.
✔ Whether you are taking a booking with a client or employing a team to work with, you need to have some form of written agreement.
Informal email agreement with artist:
Hello *Name of Performer*
I/We are pleased to confirm that you will be joining our team for rehearsals/tour of *name of show* on the following dates *date/s* and times *time/s* at *venue*. The fee for this work will be *£x*. By accepting this contract you are confirming that you will be working as a freelance artist, are registered in the UK for self-assessment tax purposes and that you have Public Liability Insurance in your name to a value of £5million.
Please confirm by return email.