Take a bow, Baldy Bane! For more than quarter of a century Glasgow’s Baldy Bane Theatre Company has been working across the country to develop original and issue-based drama in schools for the country’s young people.
Plenty of grown-ups have also benefited from the company’s vibrant and thought-provoking drama. The commercial sector have enjoyed BB’s workshops and training sessions, and the company’s annual pantomime is the stuff of legend. Oh yes it is!
Originally set up to tour plays on Scottish History and environmental issues, from 1994 Baldy Bane was commissioned by Scottish Government and local councils to write and produce theatre pieces reflecting the curriculum and social issues. Austerity measures however, resulted in reduced funding for the arts. Cuts saw bookings for Baldy Bane beginning to dry up and, missing out on a major contract, found Executive Director Alison Couston fearing that the curtain might fall for a final time on her beloved Baldy Bane.
“I was at a low ebb,” she remembers. “It was heartbreaking to let people go, and as the company retracted, I did too. I was badly bruised by the whole experience and felt quite disenchanted about the changes in the public sector generally.”
However, the fates lent a hand to turn around the company’s fortunes when a member of Baldy Bane’s board encouraged a disheartened Alison to seek help from CEIS in the form of free-to-attend workshops. When a new tender opportunity appeared, Alison contacted CEIS for specialist business support.
A CEIS double act of advisers made an immediate and dramatic impact. Joan Riddell provided a much-needed motivational boost, whilst Alex Rooney was able to support Alison to take a more methodical and systematic approach to the new tender application. “Alison and her team are so dedicated,” Alex recalls, “and they deliver a fantastic service. They knew their solution was the right one, and we just had to help them get that across.”
Alison says, “As soon as I met Joan I felt more positive. She was a force of nature, really inspiring us as well as reminding me of the importance of what we do. It was really useful to have an external expert come in and objectively look at what you do and, very importantly, how you convey that to other people.”
Between them, Alex and Joan were able to demystify and decode the jargon of the whole tender process, at the same time as encouraging Baldy Bane to consider financial and cost implications of delivering on a new contract.
For a busy social entrepreneur having to manage the day-to-day business of drama, CEIS’s approach worked well for Alison. “The CEIS advisers were really methodical and it was clear that they knew exactly what the assessors would be looking for. From content to presentation it was all really well explained and defined.”
Far from performing their swan song, Baldy Bane has survived, thrived and continue to take its rightful place under the social enterprise spotlight. The company won the tender, were awarded a 3-year contract worth £750,000, securing their theatrical future for the time being, plus providing positivity about future business opportunities.
Alison offers a standing ovation for CEIS, “I would absolutely recommend CEIS to any organisation wishing to be more sustainable. If we hadn’t got this contract we would likely be out of business, and if it wasn’t for CEIS we might not have been awarded the contract. From a position of despair, we really are in a positive place now. The experience has really built up our resilience to face the future and extend our skills, attitudes and recognise our self worth and the regard of other organisations.”
A round of applause, please, for Baldy Bane and CEIS.
Visit www.baldybane.org.uk / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/baldybanetheatre/ Twitter: @baldy_bane