Chloe Stally-Gibson, Production Associate Nick Gilbert, Associate Artist & Co-Founder
An audio version of this blog read by Flo is available, please click here.
Hello, Flo here! Happy New Year.
We’re all still thawing out after our annual Christmas hibernation period (2 weeks off for everyone, not connected to Annual Leave!) and I still feel as though I’m remembering how my job works. I can however sense that slowly and gently, 2024 is coming into view and that so far, it looks pretty glorious.
One of the things we’re excited to announce is that we have appointed two of our collaborators as Associates for Zoo Co. We want to make sure that Zoo Co encourages development opportunities for the freelancers we work with, and these appointments are one of the ways we are doing that.
What does being an Associate at Zoo Co actually mean?
As with most things, these Associateships are tailored to the individuals stepping into them, and are likely to metamorphose as we find out what is most useful and creatively exciting as we go.
What we know for now is that each Associate will:
- Receive a monthly stipend to cover their time, for (at least) a year
- Have time to think, dream, collaborate, train, develop new skills and to reflect on their journeys as freelance artists
- Contribute to core company planning sessions at company meetings, production meetings, Research and Development periods and away days with our board
- Be invited to attend Zoo Co events in their roles
- Be offered paid-for training alongside Zoo Co’s team including BSL, Anti-Racism, Access training
- Continue to work on Zoo Co’s upcoming productions throughout the year
So - who’s joining the team?!
First up, we’ve got the fantastic Chloe Stally-Gibson joining us as Production Associate. Chloe was Zoo Co’s first Production Manager when we finally acknowledged how vital a role like this would be heading into the first iteration of Perfect Show For Rachel, a show with huge technical, creative and political challenges and adventures. Since, she has been Production Manager on Bossy, Risky Business and Night Shift, and on each project I am stunned by her capacity and skillset.
Put simply - Chloe is a killer Production Manager - whip smart, organised, thrifty, kind, diligent and hard working. She so fully embraces Zoo Co’s ethos, creative practice, and politic wholeheartedly, even when it throws her total curveballs in terms of technological or management challenges - she never sways. (She’s also devastatingly funny, but that’s by the by).
We want to make sure that we invest in the development of technical/ production creatives - we cannot do our work without them. Chloe’s associateship will help us to bring her brain into the earliest stages of planning for future projects and productions, offer time and headspace for training in new skills, and dreaming up new ways of working.
Secondly, we are appointing Nick Gilbert as Associate Artist and Co-Founder. Nick is a co-founder of Zoo Co, and has been heavily involved with the company since its inception in 2013, working across almost all of our projects.
He’s also worked with us in just about every role imaginable - as an actor, writer, poet, facilitator, sound designer, stage manager, improviser, photographer, videographer, drummer, and will also leap at any opportunity to put on a fancy shirt and become the charming host of various open mics, quizzes and celebrations we’ve thrown over the years. He’s an irritatingly talented polymath.
So Nick’s associateship is really about us properly naming this huge contribution to the fabric of the company, and will see him helping to develop our future productions, helping me and the team to define our creative process and practice, outwardly share our thinking and ethos, and ensure that artists are at the core of our creative schemes and plans across the next year. Nick is a vital part of Zoo Co’s creative DNA, and I’m so thrilled we get to acknowledge that, formalise the role and share more time together conspiring as artists.
As an Artistic Director, I think it’s really important that companies like ours can embrace the balance between working with new and established artists in our network. I know that we gain so much from both. Chloe is a relatively new collaborator, having started working with us in 2022. Nick has been around since the very beginnings, and can remember the times of touring shows out of my £400 car with no power steering.
From new collaborators and artists we gain new and vital insights and skills, a diversity of thoughts and identities and experiences, we develop our politics and ways of working, and get to offer the opportunity to meet, grow and develop more freelancers, ensuring we are door-openers in an industry that can feel like its made up entirely of gatekeepers.
From established collaborators, we gain a really precise kind of wisdom, we get to develop people’s skills over multiple projects as they grow and change as artists and to witness that growth. We get to build secure collaborative relationships which have depth and richness and a creative short-hand which is so nourishing, especially during a challenging tech period, or a moment of uncertainty.
It also means that we get to share an overarching awareness and reflection of the company’s journey and ways of working with the new artists who come into our spaces, from a variety of perspectives and from people who sit in different roles. It means that as Artistic Director, I don’t end up holding all the cards in terms of defining how Zoo Co creates work, and that our journey exists in the knowledge and memory of a multitude of people who can reflect on it in different ways and communicate it in different words and ways.
As a team, we heartily welcome Chloe and Nick as they step into these roles in 2024, and hope that this can be a really healthy, creative and useful step towards developing the freelancers we work with and whose work is vital to Zoo Co’s work.