Liverpool’s Unity Theatre has launched a free website for artists and theatre programmers to find and book new work
ProPortal has been designed to diversify the UK touring circuit by ”removing some of the financial, geographical and access barriers faced by artists when trying to connect with the industry and get work seen”.
ProPortal is a private, online library of performances available for tour and artists available for commission that producers can view to draw up programming shortlists. The site allows programmers to explore a library of work available for tour and connect with artists available for commission, whether the search is for potential theatre touring shows or community or education packages.
The site is the result of two years of conversations with artists to find out what kind of barriers were faced in launching new work and getting knowledge of it to the right people.
Unity’s business development manager Rachael Welsh explained: “The overwhelming feedback from north west artists was that unless they could afford a major festival run or regular travel to London to grow a contact list, they wouldn’t be able to build a sustainable career. Equally, doing either of those things could result in financial jeopardy. An alternative was needed to counter the barriers stopping regional artists getting their work seen.”
To submit work to the portal, artists complete a short form to be approved and uploaded by the ProPortal team. Programmers will be able to explore the library of work by genre, location, format, staging, availability for tour and accessible performance options, or with community, education and artist development choices. The portal also includes tour packs, technical information, a “favourites” tool to help produce shortlists, and live calendars and contact information, so users can contact artists directly.
The portal will house full-show recordings and scratch works from a wide range of performance genres including theatre, dance, outdoor art, digital performance, comedy and more. For those without work currently available to tour, the website can also showcase archive work and advertise availability for commission.
Rachael added: “Though this project began back in 2019, it has been interesting to watch it grow as the industry has been forced to adapt to digital ways of working – so hopefully the concept of connecting and watching productions online is no longer something out of the ordinary.
“Other online libraries of work exist, but all come with either a submission cost, the need to already be a part of a curated programme or for the work to be in public domain. Ours is private, secure and free for everybody who uses it.”
Find out more about ProPortal here.