Arts Derbyshire


New business outlook for theatre company owner who completed £1.3m Create Growth programme

Oddsocks Productions was one of first 23 firms to complete DCMS-funded course, the programme offers support to growing creative businesses.

Applications are now open for East Midlands Cohort 2.

Theatre company owner Elli Mackenzie gained a new outlook on her business – and a vision for its future – through completing a small business growth programme. Elli is the Creative Producer and the Co-founder of Oddsocks Productions – one of 23 firms that has recently completed the first cohort of East Midlands Create Growth.

Starting out as a company of clowns, Oddsocks Productions was set up by husband and wife team Elli and Andy and has played many roles over its 30+ year history.  “The most useful thing I have found has been taking an outside view of the business,” says Elli. “When you run and work for your own business it’s easy to become engrossed in it all and miss certain things.

“The programme has presented me with the opportunity to take a wider view of how things are; working alongside other creatives has meant they have also been able to make suggestions and share ideas that I might not have thought of.”

With a touring theatre company that promises a theatrical experience for everyone, Elli signed up for Create Growth as the business prepares to take on another guise.

It is also moving towards having a permanent base in a dilapidated Matlock chapel that Elli and Andy will renovate and ultimately call home.

Establishing Oddsocks Productions HQ has not been without its challenges – something the Create Growth programme has helped to address.  “We took the plunge and bought the chapel and it means that the business has taken on yet another direction,” explains Elli.

“We’re growing, in that we will eventually have a company base that we haven’t had before – it felt like the right time to sign up for the support on offer through Create Growth and I’m glad that I did.”

Oddsocks Productions was one of the companies that made up the inaugural East Midlands Create Growth cohort.

The business was joined by other SMEs from across Leicester, Leicestershire, Derby and Derbyshire, Lincoln and Lincolnshire, and Rutland in benefitting from the eight-week programme.  Those on the course ranged from marketing and design agencies, architects, theatre companies and video producers.

The aim of the programme, organised and led by the East Midlands Creative Consortium (EMC²), is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to move creative businesses to investment readiness.

Cohort 1 member businesses completed an initial business health check, attended a full day business bootcamp and networking event, and logged on to eight virtual masterclasses covering themes including leadership, marketing, sales, finance and business planning. As well as the 90-minute masterclasses – delivered by industry experts – all participants were assigned intensive investment readiness support and five hours with an industry-specific mentor.

EMC² aims to support 100 creative businesses across three years through four cohort groups. Cohort 2 is recruiting now and will offer a similar level of support to the first group.  Applications for the programme are open now – anyone interested in applying can find out more here.

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