Young producer Becky Barber today became the first recipient of the Start Up Fund for New Producers, receiving a £25,000 grant for her first major West End production.
The Start Up Fund is a new investment scheme that aims to kick-start the careers of the next generation of theatrical entrepreneurs. It has been developed by Stage One, the charity which supports producers in the commercial theatre industry, which has raised £300,000 to be awarded to Start Up Fund recipients over the next three years.
Barber, 30, trained as an actress before beginning her producing career at Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. She is currently Assistant Producer at Old Vic Productions, where she has worked on Billy Elliot The Musical and the West End transfer of recent hit play Jerusalem.
Speaking about winning the grant, Barber commented: “I feel honoured and humbled that Stage One, which is made up of really illustrious industry professionals, have got behind me and supported me. It gives me a real boost and also at the same time a real sense of the responsibility of what producing is about. I am now responsible for this investment in the production and I need to step up.”
The grant – which, under the terms of the scheme, the recipient must match by raising a further £25,000 – will be invested in Barber’s first West End production as an independent producer, details of which will be announced on Friday. “It’s tremendously exciting and something that I’m so passionate about,” she said. “Producing is a risky business and I think you can’t do it unless you are completely committed and believe so much in the show that you are producing, and I really, really do.”
Luke Johnson, Chair of Stage One, said of Barber: “I just think she is impressive in terms of how professional she is, her confidence, and the reputation she has built up amongst the people she’s been working with. I think we are about backing winners and those people who have got what it takes. And I think it was that combination of talents that we felt on balance was the right mix to succeed.”
Johnson said he was hopeful that as the new Start Up Fund became better known it would be “inundated by good people who need that initial kick start to enable them to achieve.
“The fact is that the subsidised theatre has all sorts of incredible schemes and ways in which they can encourage talent, and commercial theatre doesn’t, so this is one of the rare altruistic initiatives out there in the commercial theatre,” he said.
The Start Up Fund joins Stage One’s repertoire of initiatives to help commercial producers, including workshops, bursaries, apprenticeships and investment schemes. For more information about Stage One visit www.stageone.uk.com