We produce fresh work for adventurous people by inspiring artists.
Founded in 2004, and led by Louise Blackwell and Kate McGrath, Fuel is a producing organisation working in partnership with some of the most exciting artists in the UK to develop, create and present new work for all. Fuel is currently working with artists including: Will Adamsdale, Clod Ensemble, Inua Ellams, Fevered Sleep, Lewis Gibson, Gyre & Gimble, Racheal Ofori, Frauke Requardt, David Rosenberg, Andy Smith, Sound&Fury, Melly Still, Tom Stuart, Uninvited Guests and Melanie Wilson.
What does Fuel do?
Fuel responds to ideas, to artists and to projects, making them happen as best it possibly can, providing whatever is needed for that to happen – from fundraising to moral support, tour-booking to being a sounding board for ideas, dramaturgy to photocopying. Fuel is not a service provider but an initiator, a driving force, a producer in the original sense of the word.
What is Fuel’s artistic vision?
Fuel works with artists to make fresh experiences for adventurous people. To date, many of these experiences have been theatre, whether that’s in an actual theatre, on the streets, or in purpose-built structures.
All of the artists Fuel works with produce shows, performances or experiences which have very clear, direct and playful relationships with their audiences. They appeal to the emotions and the intellect. Things that make you laugh and cry. These artists see the world in a different way; they respond to challenges and difficulties with ingenuity and ideas; they create something unexpected which articulates something to its audience.
Fuel aims to create work for the broadest possible audience.
How does Fuel work with artists?
Louise and Kate believe in creating great work by supporting artists to develop their own ideas, and by stimulating artists through provocation and challenge. They choose every artist, company or project they produce carefully. They have rich and trusting creative dialogue with all of the artists they work with, engaging in all aspects of the creative development of the work, helping put together the creative team and cast, joining them in rehearsals.
Each relationship is different and unique as we try to respond to the needs of each artist individually. However, broadly speaking there are four key ways in which we work with artists:
On projects we initiate:
We commission artists to work with us on ideas we have. For example we asked Andrew Dawson to work with us to develop a curated street party in Bognor Regis in 2010. And from July 2011 you can see The Simple Things in Life, a project where we have commissioned five artists to make work in a garden shed. In March 2012 we commissioned the celebration of inspirational women Phenomenal People at the Southbank Centre.
As Associate Producers:
Clod Ensemble have their own administrative infrastructure. This means Fuel works with them through brokering strategic partnerships (with venues, promoters and funders), creative dialogue (during the process of developing ideas, suggesting creative collaborators), working out the best place for an audience to experience the projects and the best way to talk to an audience about coming to see that work.
As all-round Producers and General Managers:
We work with Uninvited Guests and Sound & Fury on all aspects of making their performance work happen as well as running their companies administratively. This means managing their finances, raising all the money to make their work and run their company, project management, production management and administration as well as creative dialogue, assembling creative teams and partnership brokering.
With individual artists:
Melanie Wilson, Will Adamsdale, Inua Ellams and David Rosenberg all do other things as well as making performance work with us. We project manage specific projects for them: raise the money, manage the marketing and press, run the finances through a dedicated bank account, project manage, production manage and administrate each project. We also work with them creatively and produce each project. One project often leads to the next and the long term nature of our relationship with these artists reaps great benefits.
As creative collaborators:
Fuel works creatively with all artists but usually in addition to making the projects happen. With Fevered Sleep though, Louise Blackwell (Co-Director, Fuel) works with David Harradine and Sam Butler (Co-Artistic Directors, Fevered Sleep) purely on the creative development of projects, contributing thoughts, ideas and interventions to help stimulate, guide and contextualise the creative process for each new idea they have. The team at Fevered Sleep produce the work in full.
Which artists might Fuel work with in the future?
Louise and Kate believe that discovering new artists, and generating new ideas, is central to Fuel’s mission. The artists we support often have exciting new ideas about what theatre can be and have a relationship with their audience which is inclusive, challenging and gratifying. Essentially we make experimental work that people like.
How does Fuel discover artists?
Here are two examples of how we have started relationships with artists:
Louise went to see Fevered Sleep's Written with Light at the Roundhouse in 2002. She felt there were problems with the show but got excited by the direction and use of space. She talked with David Harradine, commissioned a piece of R&D called Lux at BAC as part of OctoberFest at BAC. Fuel produced The Show’s The Thing with David in 2006 and now worked with David Harradine and Samantha Butler's company Fevered Sleep from 2008-2016. She now works with them on the creative development of projects, contributing thoughts, ideas and interventions to help stimulate, guide and contextualise the creative process for each new idea they have.
Kate saw a Scratch (an early showing of a piece before it’s finished) of Filter’s Faster. She talked at length with the company about the work and they asked her to work as dramaturg on the piece. Through this she met Will Adamsdale, one of the performers in the show. After Faster Kate encouraged Will to try out some ideas of his own. Since then, Fuel has worked with him as producer on all his projects.
Who are Fuel’s audience?
Fuel is led by producers for whom artists and audiences are the primary driving force of their passion. Live performance is unique and it is that human interaction that inspires us. By the end of our sixth year Fuel and the artists we work with had reached an audience of over 250,000 people and 4349 people had participated in Fuel-related workshops. The shows Fuel and the artists we work with make have a loyal audience, growing on a daily basis, from all over the world – from our home in London, to all of the regions of the UK, to international venues. We want to discover more about this audience, to build it, and to diversify it. We believe what we do is perfect for developing audiences for live performance who might not attend other arts events or more traditional theatre, but who could engage on all sorts of levels with the experiences we create.
Where does Fuel’s work happen?
The Fuel team is based in a busy office at Somerset House in London. The projects we produce happen in all kinds of places: outdoor shows; workshops and residencies designed for particular groups; national tours to regional venues across all of the UK; and international tours across the globe.