Developing the theatre makers of tomorrow...

The Optimists 2018

China Plate's unique training opportunity for emerging theatre makers and producers.




A unique training course for emerging theatre makers and aspiring producers

The Optimists offers an insider’s view of navigating the independent theatre industry and getting your work out there.

“I came away from the programme feeling braver, more informed & more optimistic about making theatre than I ever have. I have so much information now & met a group of people who are experiencing many of the same challenges.” Caroline Horton, Optimists Alumni.

In the last two years have you…

  • Decided to become a professional theatre maker?
  • Started to produce theatre work professionally?
  • Decided that you want to build a career making theatre?

The Optimists 2018 offers a vital introduction to the craft of making work in a professional context and building your professional network, de-mystifying the process of the administrative and organisational aspects of making theatre. Drawing on our extensive experience and real examples, The Optimists will arm you with knowledge and insight on the practicalities of making, funding, touring and marketing your work.

“The Optimists is invaluable for anyone wanting to navigate the arts industry. I have learned more than I could imagine possible and met so many inspiring (and very useful!) contacts.” Chetna Pandya, Optimist Alumni.

The Optimists 2018 will take place in a range of venues across the East and West Midlands this autumn. It will start with a daylong session at Warwick Arts Centre on Saturday 27th October and end with another full day at the Belgrade Theatre on Saturday 8th December - with six evening sessions in between.

The course will be led by China Plate supported by the Belgrade Theatre including Tamasha Sustained Producer, Lian Wilkinson and guest industry experts.

Bursaries are available to BAMER / PoC and D/deaf and disabled emerging producers and theatre-makers.

For more information and details of how to apply:

Application deadline: Friday 28th September 2018

All Optimists information is available in large print.

Email for a copy.

Course Content

Participants will attend a series of workshops focussing on the practicalities of making, funding, touring and marketing work. The programme will also offer an insight into venue programming and producing strategies and introduce you to key regional and national theatre presenters, makers and funders. Topics will include:

  • The Producer's role, your project - articulating the idea and organising the process
  • Expenditure, the recipe
  • Income, working out and paying for the ingredients
  • Fundraising including Arts Council England, trusts and foundations and other sources
  • Administration & General Management – budgets, contracts, company formation and obligations
  • Audiences and how to reach them
  • Working inclusively and Access
  • Venues, getting through door
  • Festivals and navigating Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Over the 10 sessions you will build up an extensive project file of resources. From budget templates to marketing packs and exercises you will have completed throughout the course.

“It made it clearer how to prepare for applying for grants, funding and organising finances. It showed how to run a show from beginning to end.” Tine Bentsen Optimists Alumni.

Previous graduates have gone on to create award-winning productions including Bitch Boxer by Charlotte Josephine (Soho Young Writers Award), Bound by Bear Trap (Fringe First Award, Herald Angel Award, Adelaide Critics Circle Award, Off West End Award) and You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy / Mess / Islands by Caroline Horton (Stage Best Solo Performance Award, Olivier Award and OFFIE nomination)

The Details

Dates and Venues

The Optimists comprises a 30 hours foundation course taking place in a variety of theatre and arts venues across the East and West Midlands to provide participants with opportunities to meet and network with programmers and venue staff:

Saturday 27th October, 10 – 5pm – Warwick Arts Centre

Tuesday 30th October, 6 – 9pm, Birmingham Hippodrome

Tuesday 6th November, 6 – 9pm, RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon

Tuesday 13th November, 6 – 9pm, Derby Theatre

Tuesday 20th November, 6 – 9pm Shop Front Theatre, Coventry

Tuesday 27th November, 6 – 9pm, Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham

Tuesday 4th December, 6 – 9pm, Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester

Saturday 8th December, 10 – 5pm, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


£415 + VAT (£498) per person including course materials.

Who can apply?

Places are available for up to 16 individuals: recent graduates, emerging producers or members of emerging theatre companies. 

Whilst an open call process, we are actively targeting BAMER / PoC and D/deaf and disabled emerging producers and theatre-makers onto the course. Our aim is to nurture a more diverse group of producers/theatre-makers in the region, widening the representation of arts managers, producers, leaders, and policy makers in the sector’ shifting the arts management landscape into a truer representation of society.

To this end we are providing bursaries for candidates self-defining as BAME/PoC and D/deaf and disabled for the spring 2018 course. Eight bursaries are available covering the cost of the course plus a contribution towards access/travel costs where appropriate.

How to Apply

If you wish to apply to The Optimists please send us the following information by email to:

  • Contact details: name and company name (if applicable), postal address, website (if you have one), email address, phone number

  • Why you would like to be an Optimist? (max 250 words)

  • CV or information about your work to date

  • Any access requirements you may have that will assist your participation

  • If you wish to be considered for a Diversity Bursary, please state this clearly in your application

Deadline for applications is 5pm Friday 28th September 2018

Successful applicants will be notified by Friday 5th October 2018

If you need any help with your application or would like more information please email