North of Tyne Culture and Creative Investment Programme announces first Creative Boost investment in Tiny Dragon Productions

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Creative UK is pleased to announce a loan investment from the North of Tyne Culture and Creative Investment Programme in tiny dragon Productions: an early-stage creative SME based in Newcastle. 

tiny dragon Productions (tdP) produces location-based immersive experiences using mixed-reality and multi-sensory storytelling, that moves cultural events out of theatres and venues and into local communities and economies. Their first immersive offering is a show titled ‘Space Camp’, geared towards family and young audiences. The experience combines immersive audio and visuals and is built into a bespoke shipping container, that can be dropped into locations such as town centres, festivals, and museums.  

tiny dragon Productions (tdP) have been awarded a loan of £25,000 via the Creative Boost strand of the North of Tyne Culture and Creative Investment Programme to finance the purchase of key equipment that will build their capacity and catalyse their first full trading year. 

If you’d like to learn more about the Creative Boost loans and other investment opportunities for North of Tyne Creative and Cultural organisations, head over to our Investment page or get in touch with Rahul Misra, Investment Manager, Creative UK, North of Tyne rahul.misra@wearecreative.uk.

“Creative UK have been fantastic from the beginning – they’ve met us with an open mind and a genuine interest in our plans and ambitions.”

 

We spoke to Creative Directors Mark Calvert and Matt Runham to find out more about their journey: 

Matt Runham

Mark Calvert

What was the inspiration behind tiny dragon Productions? 

tiny dragon Productions is run by Creative Directors Mark Calvert and Matt Runham.  We have a background in theatre but we became increasingly frustrated at how slowly theatre evolves.  It felt to us that so much of it looked to the past and didn’t embrace new technologies or ideas in how it tells stories and generates revenue. Even in brand new theatres the relationship between the audience and the stage remains the same as it’s been for centuries; we wanted to start a business that could use what we’d learned and apply it in surprising ways.  tiny dragon is a production company rather than a theatre company – we’re interested in VR, immersive productions, podcasts, and mixed reality experiences. The North East has a burgeoning tech sector and has a great story-telling tradition, so why not try and combine them? 

How will this loan help you in your growth? 

Arts Council England have already backed us in bringing our first production, Space Camp, back to audiences in the North East. The show takes place in a shipping container and uses the film and 3D sound to take family audiences to space for a 20-minute adventure.  The loan helps us to realise this with even more ambition and to have a second container so we can bring it to more cities across the UK.  Our business model is quite simple really, the more containers we have the more revenue we can generate and the loan helps us to grow to a sustainable size very quickly.  It’s absolutely vital if we’re going to be successful.  It’s also allowed us to take on an additional member of staff to increase our capacity, skillset, network and knowledge. 

How have you found the process of working with Creative UK? 

Creative UK has been fantastic from the beginning – they’ve met us with an open mind and a genuine interest in our plans and ambitions.  Taking the time to understand what we’re building has meant they’ve been able to mentor us in really useful ways.  They’re also very honest!  So they’ve interrogated our ideas, our numbers and our business model in ways that have been invaluable to us.  It’s very reassuring to know the level of experience that has scrutinised our plans and agreed to support them. 

Why do you think investment into the North of Tyne region is important? 

We think investment across the North East is very important. The funding and support available in the South East in particular shows an enormous disparity with the North East and that needs to change.  Kudos to Creative UK for addressing it and, combined with ongoing local investment in infrastructure, there is genuine possibility for start-ups to succeed and more established companies to thrive.  Boosting growth at crucial moments will seed the ground for North East businesses to develop into companies of national or international significance. 

What advice would you give to similar cultural and creative business thinking of taking the step towards long-term financing? 

It’s not right for everyone but have the conversation! Creative UK has been very welcoming.  They’ll get to know your idea, tell you if it’s going to work or help you adapt to make it possible.  For us, this was a process of moving away from grant funding towards a revenue-generating business and it meant we had to develop our understanding, methodology and approach and Creative UK helped us every step of the way.