Guildford Shakespeare Company (GSC) is an award-winning, professional theatre company and arts education organisation.
Co-founder, Matt Pinches, talks about why they do what they do – and why the support of local businesses is so important.
Matt, tell us a bit about Guildford Shakespeare Company…
Sarah Gobran and I founded the theatre company 13 years ago, and we’re extremely proud to now be one of the largest producers of theatre in Surrey. Since 2006, we’ve engaged 104,400 people, young and old, with live performances, events and education programmes. This year our work (shows and education projects) have created jobs for 129 artists, and an additional 22 work experience and placement opportunities for aspiring talent.
What makes GSC different?
Our site-responsive approach has been the key to breaking down the initial barrier many people feel about going to the theatre. By using non-theatre venues to stage our work, we invite our audiences to be part of the world of the play, to interact with the community spaces we are using, and to be more explorative of their town. It encourages a local pride in our shared society whilst our presence supports continued, varied use of these special places, helping to sustain our collective cultural heritage.
Tell us about Brave New World…
Brave New World is a new, year-long Outreach programme, which seeks to reduce social isolation and assist disadvantaged schools across Surrey. We’re running six projects which will engage with around 3,500 children over the course of the year, through direct contact with live theatre experiences, workshops and therapy sessions.
And that’s as well as the Education work you already do?
Yes – GSC has a strong Education Department whose work in schools has continued to increase, with 1,616 pupils this year receiving bespoke workshops and performances, designed to get pupils on their feet and experiencing Shakespeare first-hand in a practical way.
Why is it important to GSC have the support of local businesses?
Quite simply, without the support of local businesses sponsoring our main productions, we simply wouldn’t be able to carry on doing what we do in the way we do it, and achieve our goals. Each play running for a season costs around £100,000-£140,000. Around 80% of this is met in earned income. The remainder of which is met with project-related funding and corporate sponsorship. Funding is never guaranteed, so the importance of securing sponsorship is vital, and quite often is the difference between us being able to achieve our goals and not.
Currently GSC receives no local or central government funding, and only receives a small proportion of public funding on a project related basis, which is never guaranteed. So, from that point of view, the support we receive from corporate sponsors is vital.
How does this support cross over into the other areas?
Corporate Sponsorship definitely raises an awareness of all the other work we do, and highlights that we’re not just a theatre company that puts on plays. All of our outreach and education work piggybacks on the profile of the public performances.
As a direct example, Peter Quilter from Natwest came to a performance as a guest, which led to Natwest becoming Performance Sponsors. After a couple of years, this developed into Natwest supporting a pilot project in a school in Guildford back in March 2018. This project has now evolved into a year-long residency in the school. So that journey of Peter being invited to see an open-air show has transformed into a life-changing project for 1500 children.
The team at projectfive have long been fans of Guildford Shakespeare Company, and for the last 2 years have been a corporate sponsor. Marketing Executive, Suzanne, tells us why this has been an important partnership.
Why did projectfive decide to become a corporate sponsor?
We’ve been fans of GSC for years and would often go to the performances with our families. Having such high-calibre, live theatre on our doorstep is really special, and we wanted to share that magic with our clients and friends.
What do you get out of being a performance sponsor?
Theatre brings people together, so for us, it’s wonderful to be able to invite people along as our guests, in a really informal and unique setting, and share a live-theatre experience with them.
Everyone is always blown away by the performance, the evening is memorable, and it builds relationships through a shared experience, in a way that just couldn’t be achieved through a typical business networking event. It’s essentially a night out with friends (who just happen to be clients or business connections).
In fact one of our favourites was one we refer to as ‘the wet one’ and you can find out why, here!
Why do you keep sponsoring year-on-year?
It’s really important to us to support the local community – and what better way to give back that to be involved with the team at GSC who are striving not only to promote social inclusion through their educational programmes, but also working to highlight the wonderful area in which we live.
If you’re interested in becoming a performance sponsor, you can contact the Guildford Shakespeare Company team on 01483 301590 or firstname.lastname@example.org