• How and why was Artichoke founded?

    Nicky and Helen met in 1989 when they were both working for LIFT (the London International Festival of Theatre). They continued to work together on projects such as the free Arts and Events programme at Canary Wharf and then the Salisbury Festival. They set up Artichoke with the aim of bringing The Sultan’s Elephant to London. The company continues with the aim of producing extraordinary arts events in public places.

  • Did the company founders train in arts management or a related subject?

    After gaining a degree at Oxford University, Helen Marriage took a diploma in arts administration at City University. Nicky Webb studied English at the University of East Anglia.

  • I have an idea for a show, will you produce it?

    Artichoke only produce large scale, ambitious events that take place in public spaces and are accessible to the public. If you think your idea fits this checklist then you are welcome to email details of your proposal to us at artichoke@artichoke.uk.com. Please include a short summary of your idea as well as a more detailed plan. We take a look at every proposal sent to us, but we may not always be able to give you personal feedback. 

  • How much do your projects cost, and who funds them?

    Our projects vary in cost from £350,000 for The Telectroscope to £2m for La Machine. We receive core funding from Arts Council England. However, we always need to raise money from other sources: for this we approach trusts, foundations and businesses. We also instigate partnerships with local authorities and businesses: for example, JCB kindly provides us with plant for our events. Occasionally we co-produce events, particularly when we are putting on something as part of a festival. We also run a membership scheme called Artichoke Hearts, where individuals who like our work can help to support us.

  • How many projects do you produce each year?

    We don’t set ourselves a target for shows: after The Sultan’s Elephant in 2006 we did not produce another show until The Telectroscope in 2008.  This is because of the huge amount of organisation and preparation that is needed for each project. Our events undergo a lengthy development process, which sometimes results in our production schedule changing.

  • I'd like to produce The Sultan's Elephant / La Machine / One & Other in my home town - what should I do?
  • Can I work for Artichoke? Or get work experience?

    We advertise any vacancies or work experience opportunities on this website here. You are welcome to send us speculative CVs, which we will keep on file.

  • Why does it take so long for you to make your projects?

    Often our projects are on a larger scale than more traditional art events that take place in theatres or galleries. They require a huge amount of preparation and it can take a lot of time to raise enough funds to make them happen. We go through an extensive pre-production process to ensure that our projects are viable, will appeal to large audiences and are of the highest quality. Our shows also involve working with numerous other organisations, such as city councils, emergency departments and local businesses.

  • What impact do your projects have on cities?

    Our projects aim to give people a fresh perspective of a place. Our events are closely tied to the places in which they are produced: for example Crown of Light at Lumiere Durham was commissioned specially for the Cathedral, and artist Ross Ashton utilised that building’s history in the son et lumiere display. By illuminating a site, or setting it in a different context, we try to cultivate new appreciation of a place. Our work also has tangible economic benefits. For example, during La Machine Liverpool experienced a 615% increase in footfall, while Lumiere Durham 2015 generated an estimated £9.6m of economic benefit.

  • One of your aims is to change the way people look at their surroundings, do you mean during the event or after it as well?

    Inevitably people will see their surroundings afresh most of all during the projects. However, we hope that our audiences will remember the event for many years to come when they experience a certain place.

  • What is the funding breakdown for your projects?

    The amount of funding we receive and the source of our funding varies for each project, but it is usually a combination of grants from Arts Council England, statutory funding, sponsorship and support from trusts and foundations.

  • How are budgets broken down across your projects?

    The budgets for our projects vary depending on the scale of the event. Likewise, the key costs are determined by the nature of the project. For example, one of the main costs for One & Other was staffing, because we needed teams in Trafalgar Square 24 hours a day. In contrast, much of Lumiere’s budget is spent on commissioning pieces for the festival and on stewarding the event.

  • How do you capture data on how many people attend your projects?

    For events such as The Telectroscope and Dining With Alice we had exact numbers from the tickets sold. However, Artichoke’s events are usually unticketed, and as such it’s very difficult for us to gauge exact audience numbers. In the case of One & Other, we could estimate potential audience numbers because there are statistics on how many people pass through Trafalgar Square each day during the summer. For The Sultan’s Elephant and La Machine we relied on local authorities’ expertise, on the police and on BBC estimates.

  • How do you measure the impact of the work you create?

    We commission an independent evaluation for most of our projects. The results of these evaluations usually addresses where people have travelled from, how much they have spent and how they rate various aspects of the event. From this data we can tell how far-reaching our marketing is and which demographics the event appealed to, as well as what benefits were gained for the location.

  • What conditions does your Arts Council funding come with?

    Artichoke is classed as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) by Arts Council England, which means that they fund us over a period of time rather than on a project by project basis. Arts Council England has standard conditions for all their grants. We have to deliver an artistic programme that is agreed with Arts Council England, and we have to credit them in appropriate ways and send them regular financial information. You can find more information about Arts Council England’s NPOs on their website.

  • Will you come and give a talk at my school / college?

    Unfortunately we don’t have enough time to talk at every event that invites us. However, send a proposal to artichoke@artichoke.uk.com and we will see if one of us can attend.

  • Can I interview you for my dissertation?

    We are unable to meet with everyone who asks us. However, we have designed this website – and this page in particular – to be as useful to Artichoke researchers as possible. Please take a look round the site, and if there’s something that you really need to know and can’t find on here, email artichoke@artichoke.uk.com and we’ll do our best to help.