Accra To The World
How To Tour a Theatre Production in Ghana
Accra to the World is a public research series on touring theatre in Ghana. We shadowed Utopia Theatre in the UK to learn from their theatre touring process, and then adapted their model for Ghana.
This free touring guide was funded by the British Council Cultural Exchange programme, which supports cultural organisations , festivals, artists and creatives between the countries of Sub Saharan Africa and the UK to create art, build networks, collaborate and develop markets and share artists' work with audiences.
What is a theatre tour?
A show by an artist or group of artists that travels to different cities, countries or locations to be presented to new audiences.
Why are tours important?
If planned and managed efficiently, touring a show has the potential to:
Build a wider audience base
Generate greater revenue
Create networking opportunities as artists can meet potential collaborators and sponsors
Bring the arts to more, underserved communities
Support education and promote creative problem solving
Assist national development
Help artists to build a sustainable career
However, it is important to have a proper plan in place for touring to avoid making a loss from an inefficient tour.
Who can benefit from this information?
Artists and artist collectives
Young artists 1 - 10 years in the field looking for career guidance
Local theatre technicians
Faculty and students of local tertiary institutions with tuition in the arts
Potential touring venues
❝This series is a template to help deconstruct the processes involved in touring an existing show around various locations in Ghana, as well as how to prepare to tour shows internationally. It is also useful and replicable for different art forms seeking to tour their project.❞
When preparing for a tour, it is imperative to start planning far in advance. Tours should be planned at least 6 months to a year ahead of time. All necessary copyrights must also be obtained before touring a show.
Among various other reasons, planning in advance is beneficial:
1. To be able to fit your production into the venue’s calendar of events on a date that is both available for the venue, as well as coincides with your touring period
2. To allow time to fundraise towards your tour. Whether through savings, crowdfunding, grants, etc., the extra time allows you to get realistic financial backing in order to support the cost of the tour
I want to tour my show. How do I know I am ready?
We have included a free downloadable Ready or Not checklist for you to refer to when deciding if you are ready to take your show on the road.
BUDGET & FINANCING
Financial capital is important in any touring venture. It is important to first have a budget for the entire tour in place. By collecting actual quotes for the different parts of the tour you will be able to draw up a realistic budget. Remember to allow room for contingencies and inflation. Arbitrary quotes can not only disrupt your budgeting, but it can cause discrepancies in your final reporting to your funders. This can be detrimental to your credibility, ability to manage funds, and may negatively impact future funding applications.
Find our sample Touring Budget Template for your reference.
Funding can come from different avenues. When seeking funding for your tour, it is beneficial to have some good marketing material for your show, such as high quality photos and video snippets, as well as details about your show. This gives your potential funders a picture of what they are investing in. Some avenues for funding include:
Savings and Investments: If you/your organisation have been planning towards a tour for a while, you may have some savings stored up towards it.
Crowdfunding: There are various crowdfunding platforms such as: GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Patreon, among others. You can set up a page with information about your show and potential tour and accept donations. You could also consider creating a social media campaign around crowdfunding your project to get your potential donors excited and get the information to as many people as possible.
Private Donations: Like crowdfunding, this option relies on donors. These may be philanthropic persons or organisations who support your project.
Corporate Sponsorships: These can come in cash or in kind, and usually require a display of the sponsoring company's logo on a part of your production for marketing purposes.
Grants: There are various funding bodies for the arts. Giving yourself adequate time to fundraise enables you to find grants geared specifically towards your project and apply in time for the funding season. Some organisations that fund artistic projects are: British Council, Institut Francaise, Goethe Institute, Africa No Filter, etc.
Venue/Split agreements: Some venues will also agree to split the proceeds from the gate at a certain percentage once ticket sales surpass a certain amount which covers operating costs.
Online and Advance Ticket Sales: Even though this will come later in the touring schedule, selling tickets in advance helps to get a sense of how well your show is being publicised and patronised ahead of the actual event date.
❝ Finally, if you received funding from external sources, it is good business practice to keep them informed on your progress and outcomes. This builds good communication practice and an ongoing relationship towards future projects.❞
❝ A good team is key to the success of a tour. The size of your team can vary depending on your financial situation and the size of your company or production.❞
First, a budget controller must be assigned to ensure that all expenditure falls within the financial allocation. This role is crucial because quotes on different services are constantly changing with time, especially when quotes were obtained far in advance of the tour. A budget controller will constantly check your financial status and advice on making necessary adjustments to expenditure, to ensure that the tour stays within the allocated finances.
Additionally, a production/tour manager is necessary for the efficient management of the logistical aspects of the tour. For a smaller team, the tour manager can also double as the budget controller to keep an eye on cash flow. It is beneficial if the tour manager has some technical knowledge of theatre production in order to understand and address the various needs of the show, and possibly even save you some money by effectively managing the finances and logistics of the tour.
The tour manager will book the various tour venues and provide them with the technical rider* for the show. They will also be in charge of hiring additional equipment, tour vehicles and technical hands. The producer can also set the tone for the tour, by bringing the cast in agreement on the arrangements and expectations of the tour. For instance, the producer will liaise with the cast about lodging and transportation arrangements.
A technical team also needs to be put in place specifically for the tour. The designers for the show must receive an overview of the various locations and their in-house amenities in order to make accommodations in their designs. Some locations may have a wide variety of lights to set up for a show, while others may have a more basic set up. For the touring production, the set design should be collapsible and able to fit in whichever mode of transportation you will be using.
It is useful to have a basic lighting design that can be set up in a wide variety of locations, with the option of adding on to that basic setup in larger venues. In some cases, additional lights can be taken along on the tour and set up in each venue as needed. Accommodations must be made to keep all traveling production elements in a secure area at each venue.
It is also essential to have a technical hand on the tour to set up and tear down as required. Two technical hands are ideal, or at the very least, one technical hand and another person who can lift and assist with setup and tear down. This can be someone on staff at the venue, but this must be confirmed beforehand.
A tour photographer or videographer is also useful to collect archival and promotional footage.
If your show has already been created, you will first need to obtain the availability of your cast members for the duration of the tour. Any special arrangements for the tour must also be discussed and agreed upon. This will be further discussed in the Venues & Logistics section. You will also need to re-rehearse the show with the tour in mind. Take into consideration the different venues at which you will be performing and adjust the performance accordingly for the orientation or technical requirements of the space. For instance, if the actors will be performing mic’d in some venues and not others, they should be made aware of this in order to rehearse projecting their voices.
You must also provide your artists with the following:
- Tour Calendar including tour dates and venues
- Artist Information Sheet including medical information, allergies and emergency contacts
- Artist contract/agreement
*Technical Rider: A documented list of technical requirements that an artist should provide to the venue in advance of their show
Comprehensive research needs to be conducted on the venues you hope to tour in order to get the most out of the tour. In choosing the venue, you must bear in mind important factors such as exposure and revenue. You must also consider the theme of your show and the target audience. For instance, for themes relevant to young adults, you may want to consider touring tertiary institutions as the target groups already gather in schools.
There are various venues in Ghana, including those primarily for performance, as well as some alternative spaces which can host performances. These vary in suitability for shows based on factors such as the type of infrastructure (eg. open air space vs. closed auditorium), capacity and in-house equipment.
Additionally, further logistics must be considered when touring a show. These are mainly with regards to accommodation and transportation during the tour. This is an area where the tour producer can research the best options that are both comfortable for the artists and cost-effective for the cast and crew.
*Results from an Instagram poll
❝ We are building a list of venues that are open to receiving tours. In this list, you will find basic information on each venue to help start your venue selection process for your show. If you are venue that would like to be included in this list, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org❞
MARKETING & PUBLICITY
In order to properly market your show, you will need to put together a tour pack containing relevant information. This gives your potential venues all the information they need about your show. This is the first introduction to your show so it must professionally made.
The tour pack should include:
Details about the show, such as plot, themes, target audience, etc
Information about the touring company, including cast biographies
Professionally shot images and video of the show
Links to relevant websites and video clips
News articles or reviews on the show
For Internal Marketing:
Create and print posters and fliers for the show
Write copy for the show
Create an online publicity campaign via social media channels
Call the marketing departments of the venues and introduce the show to them.
Deliver posters, fliers and copy to them
For External Marketing:
Write a press release
Contact local newspapers, online magazines and entertainment bloggers to introduce the show and present it for a news feature
There are various ways to market your show and you can choose the most appropriate channels to reach your target audience. For instance social media promotion is well suited for a younger audience.
❝Now that you have gone through the various stages in preparation for your tour, it is time to get your show on the road!❞
Accra to the World: How to Tour a Theatre Production in Ghana" is supported by the British Council Cultural Exchange programme, which supports cultural organisations, festivals, artists, and creatives between the countries of SSA* and the UK to create art, build networks, collaborate and develop markets and share artists’ work with audiences.