WHO YOU KNOW
by Jez Bond
There's a great deal of truth in the famous expression 'it's not what you know, it's who you know' . In the theatre industry we often thrive on this; people take cautious steps to appease the people positioned to give them a step up and would make little apology for getting the job through a friend or family member. Of course it's all very well when you're one of those who know people, but for those on the other side of the fence - those, for example, starting out or not in the 'it crowd' it's incredibly frustrating and, let's face it, downright unfair. Now in my own miniscule way I realise that I've played my part in this - any director will tell you they enjoy working with familiar faces and sometimes it's tough to get through the door if you're not known to a particular director or producer. I have always tried to maintain a healthy balance of new faces and to audition a range of performers - and I will indeed strive to continue this at Park Theatre.
What is, however, becoming increasingly frustrating to me now is that it appears the world of fundraising is no different. Obviously individual donors require a personal connection - it doesn't take a genius to work out that Tom Cruise isn't going to give you £10,000 even though "he can easily afford it" and "he supports the arts". But when it comes to applications to trusts and foundations one would have hoped that a strong application could sail through to success based purely on its own merits. In the majority of cases it seems to be not so - we're constantly asked "who on your board knows people in trusts and foundations?" Unfortunately, whilst among our trustees and ambassadors we have a level of expertise and theatre experience of which I am extremely proud, we simply don't have these key contacts. So part of the day is spent writing applications and trying to get across the passion and vision, which is so hard to translate onto paper, to a grant officer - and the other half is spent trying to find a 'way in' to any of these organisations that would give us the all important leg-up. "C'est la vie" say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell!