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Are school's budgets for theatre in education really this small?

(32 Posts)
BumpyGrindy Thu 27-Feb-14 10:56:03

I've been approached to facilitate a workshop within a school in an admittedly deprived area and when I priced it up taking into account actor's fees, writing, research and travel, I felt the price was fair. But the guy in charge has come back to me to say that while he loves my proposal, the budget won't run to what I ask and can I cut it.

He admitted that they only have a budget of £500 for the workshop which to be fair isn't bad but when I have to write a very specific piece plus pay two actors and provide resources...seems very little!

I was asking £700....the workshop would be created solely for this school as they want to achieve a very specific goal in teaching their students more about the history of the local it's not like I can just fish an old script out of my bag!

I want to do it but I'm torn as it's quite a lot of my proposal I said that once the piece is up and we've done one workshop, we would be happy to offer it to further classes within the school for a much reduced price of £200...this barely pays the actors!

prh47bridge Thu 27-Feb-14 13:03:42

Schools just get a sum of money which, by and large, they can spend however they want within reason. Some schools will budget more for this type of activity than others.

PastSellByDate Thu 27-Feb-14 13:09:09


How many children will your theatre company be performing for?

I think you have to be commercial about this. You can't blame the school for trying to negotiate a lower price - but if that is your lowest price couldn't the school ask for a voluntary contribution?

2 form primary with 100% children viewing play would = ~240 kids - surely a voluntary contribution of £1 a piece would get the school to your quoted £700.

We had a company come for an evening performance - families could attend. Tickets were £6 adults, £4.50 children - or a family ticket (2 adults + up to 3 children) was £20. (toddlers age 3 and under were free).

We're not exactly at a 'rich school' - certainly a significant proportion of single parent and low income families - and we still had a great turn out for it. And I know the school got 10% of takings.

snowmummy Thu 27-Feb-14 13:16:53

He's trying it on is my gut feeling.

BumpyGrindy Thu 27-Feb-14 13:19:48

Past they won't be asking for any contribution...this is in an extremely deprived area and the school know that most won't pay as they can't.

It will be for one class's not so much a performance as an interactive one...actors in character and in costume will be teaching the children...for two hours and in addition to that will create a large piece of art with them.

The piece will have to be created from scratch as the plan is so specific.

Bramshott Thu 27-Feb-14 13:38:47

IME most primary schools don't have ANY budget for this sort of thing. Most of the arts workshops that take place in schools are already subsidised/sponsored by the company or organisation taking them into schools.

OP - have you thought about putting together a proposal for a charitable trust to fund X number of workshops in local schools, with the schools only making a token contribution? That's often how these things work.

However, if the school have asked for something very specific, which wouldn't be readily repeatable in other schools, then really they should pay the cost of that...

BumpyGrindy Thu 27-Feb-14 14:26:42

Bram no...the thing is that I'm not interested in starting a charity...I was approached by them.

PastSellByDate Thu 27-Feb-14 14:30:50


The only other suggestion I have is would it be possible to do this jointly with another school in the area - thereby splitting the costs between them?

I suspect this is being done to meet curriculum requirements - so those same demands may be in play elsewhere in the area.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 27-Feb-14 14:35:17

Don't lower your price, they want something very specific rather than buying a more 'standard' workshop and that has to be paid for.

If it is a deprived area so they can't ask for a contribution, then they should get pupil premium or whatever it is called now for a fair few children.

Our infants has theatre days, but they get a VC from parents of around £10 per year which is specifically put towards curriculum enrichment activities.

dontcry Thu 27-Feb-14 14:54:25

Is it possible to sell it to other schools who are working on the same topic?
IME we are always asked for a voluntary contribution for visiting theatre companies.

Bramshott Thu 27-Feb-14 15:19:43

Yes I appreciate that it's different from you putting something together and pitching it to schools. I was just trying to answer your question "are schools budgets for theatre really this small" - the simple answer is yes, they really are. But if you can't do it for less than £700, you should not be railroaded into doing it for less than £700...

RiversideMum Thu 27-Feb-14 17:18:10

Cost for artists, writers, musicians etc for a day is usually about £600. We have no budget at all for this and our PTA usually pays. We wouldn't charge the children.

mrz Thu 27-Feb-14 17:26:29

We certainly couldn't afford £500 for a workshop never mind £700 sorry but budgets are tight since the introduction of negative increases a few years ago.

BumpyGrindy Thu 27-Feb-14 19:08:12

And there's the rub riverside a school like this will not have a pta with such funds sad

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Thu 27-Feb-14 19:13:43

We are an independent school without the kind of financial constraints you are talking about and I would be on glue if I signed off on £700 for a workshop for one class. One class! Normal rule of thumb is £150-£300 or slightly more if it is for more than one class. We have never had a 100% bespoke workshop though.

BumpyGrindy Thu 27-Feb-14 20:02:23

To be honest Hearts I think they're barking up the wrong tree...they need an established company with something already designed which can be tweaked with minor work....not me! I see that it's a lot for one class...but I offered to do any subsequent workshops for that's about right....but it's the creating the thing which will cost them. If they can't afford it then they can't afford it.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Feb-14 20:08:36

Hello OP

The private schools and theatre schools are your best bet for work of this nature.
My dh company takes 16 piece bands into schools and has several commissions for workshops. The expenses run into thousands, but the schools love to pay the cost as the parents like quality provision.
The specialist schools are your best bet, but your actors would need to be well known and obviously better than the specialist teachers.
Well worth a shot though if you can come up with the quality.
Very few state schools have the budget for this type of thing, such a shame as it is so beneficial to the dc.

ravenAK Thu 27-Feb-14 20:19:00

I organise this sort of thing for a secondary school & it often comes out of Pupil Premium money.

£700 for a one class one off would absolutely not be seen as VFM though I'm afraid; I'd be looking to book something for a whole year group for that.

admission Thu 27-Feb-14 23:01:36

I think this is all about the growing up pains associated with schools who do not understand how the real world works outside education. It is coming as a shock to them that about the real costs of such things that are a little outside the normal class activities. In the past the LA could well have been subsidising things like this and the school has to move into the real world.
If the cost is £700 then this is what you ask for and stick with the price. The school has decide whether spending £700 on one class activity is cost effective and what they want to do. I know that my reaction would be "no way" but that is not necessarily the answer you will get.

BumpyGrindy Thu 27-Feb-14 23:34:42

I dropped the price for them but see it is a lot still...the thing is that I would LOVE to as it is something I am passionate about....local history is so important.

MiaowTheCat Fri 28-Feb-14 06:44:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BumpyGrindy Fri 28-Feb-14 07:25:36

Thanks for all the input everyone....does anyone think it might be a good idea for me to seek funding from elsewhere if I could get this school to say they will top up with what they can afford?

Bramshott Fri 28-Feb-14 08:34:12

Yes absolutely. Also makes a good case to a grant-making body if you are saying that the school will contribute £X so you are not asking for the whole cost.

BumpyGrindy Fri 28-Feb-14 09:43:15

Thanks Bram do you have any idea where I begin to look for the right sort of grant making body?

Bramshott Fri 28-Feb-14 12:50:11

Local ones are often best. Try googling "funding for theatre education" or "grants for schools theatre workshops" followed by the county or region you're in. The Association of Charitable Trusts can be a good place to start, but you have to trawl through the listings.

If you know someone else doing similar work - look on their website and see who funds them!

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