Developing the theatre makers of tomorrow...

The Optimists

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 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 takes place in a range of venues across the East and West Midlands and London. The course is led by China Plate, with the support of guest industry experts and speakers.  

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

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

To get in touch, or for more information please contact:


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)

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 seeking to support BAMER / PoC and D/deaf and disabled emerging producers and theatre-makers to access the course.Our aim is to nurture a more diverse group of producers/theatre-makers, widening the representation of arts managers, producers, leaders, and policy makers in the sector.

To this end we are providing bursaries for candidates self-defining as BAMER, PoC and D/deaf and disabled for the spring 2020 course. Eight bursaries are available, covering the cost of the course plus a contribution towards access and travel costs where appropriate.