How to Plan a Project

Some top tips to help you start planning your project. Useful if you’re doing your Gold Arts Award.

How to Plan a Project

Planning a new project can be a little daunting or stressful, but if you know some good tips, it can relieve a lot of pressure and help you focus on each step. My latest project, which I hope to use as part of my Gold Award, involved planning a Musical Theatre Performance in London. Sounds easy in theory but there were a lot of aspects to keep track of!

At first, I was worried, but I soon found an approach that worked for me. We all know how we want our projects to turn out, so creating a timeline of tasks and working backwards is a great way to keep on top of everything. To help me plan, I broke my project down into six main steps. Here’s what helped me. 

Six steps to help plan your project:

Step 1: I started with the performance date. At first, it was a pencilled-in date but I knew roughly which weekend I wanted the show to be. From there I worked out when our final rehearsal would need to be when the costumes needed to be ready and all other key dates things would need to happen by It started to come together and soon looked a little like this:

The timeline helped me visualise all of the big steps and break each step into smaller tasks. This became the baseline for my project.

Step 2: From this point, it was important for myself and my business partner to define our roles, split everything up evenly and ensure we had an equal amount of work to cover. We were directing and performing in the show, so we shared some work and swap tasks later on in the project. However, because we had a clear outline from the start, we found this easy to do.

Step 3: Our kick-off meeting! This was important not only from a creative view, to organise all of the scenes and script decisions, but also from a management perspective. This was our chance to ensure we had all of the materials we required throughout the project; scripts, music, contact details for cast, contracts and emails from the venue, etc. It was also a chance to look at any sponsorship and create a financial budget to cover the project. Make sure you plan your aims and outcomes of this meeting. You can update throughout the project, but it helps to have clear ideas from the beginning.

Step 4: We created our media platform. For our project, we needed to get the word out there about our show in order to attract an audience. This involved branding and making Facebook pages, Instagram and Twitter accounts. For your project you may need to make flyers, posters, a newsletter etc. It’s useful to run a separate meeting to discuss everything you need to do to spread the word about your project.  

Step 5: We look at the safety and risk assessment for the project. When it comes to putting a show or event on and inviting people to a place, you need to ensure you have thought about the safety of your audience and guests. This is usually covered if you have hired a venue, as they will have their own health and safety guidelines. However, it’s always best to do a risk assessment yourself, just to ensure everything is as safe as possible and be familiar with any risks that may crop up later. Keep a brief document with all of your notes in so that you can refer to it if you need it. 

Step 6: Do it! You can think and plan as much as humanly possible. However, nothing will ever come together until you start doing it. Stay positive, work hard and do your best. No one can ask any more of you.

Facing challenges when planning a project:

It’s not always easy putting a plan into action and you can face problems. One of our biggest challenges was making allowances for the availability of others. When you’re working with a group or a cast, over time some people have more work than others but it’s important to try your hardest to bring everyone together from the start. For us, this was quite difficult as people had work and different schedules. It meant that our first full cast rehearsal wasn’t until a few weeks into the project. However, we stayed positive and eventually got everyone in one room and because we’d all practised so much individually, it wasn’t difficult to get everyone clicking quickly.

A second issue we anticipated was the administration involved with our chosen venue. It was difficult to get in contact with or receive an answer from our queries with the venue, so very early on in our planning, we anticipated issues. However, we stayed positive and were polite but professional at all times. Something I’ve noticed when young people try to do something like this is, we are not always taken seriously. I found by remaining professional yet firm, we made it clear we were doing official business and the situation improved drastically. The venue became much more responsive and we were given a direct member of their team to contact.

Reflecting on your project: 

Throughout the project, I learnt a lot, especially that not everything goes to plan! It’s ok for things early on to fall apart because if you have a clear plan, you can pick up the pieces again. It’s never too early to hire your musicians, with their ever-changing schedules you may find the earlier the better. People will not get along all the time but if you work with a positive attitude, you can still create something great.

Finally, the most important lesson I learnt throughout this experience was to always ensure that those involved in your project are part of your team. Don’t let other people try to push their way in and give you their opinions. If you need help, by all means, ask someone who has experienced the same things, but if you are happy with the way something is going and you believe in it, then go with your gut! After all, at the end of the day, it is your project!


Grace McCabe

Grace McCabe Contributor

Arts Award Voice - Local JournalistGrace is a Theatre and Drama graduate currently working in London. She loves writing, the arts and is a musician in her spare time.

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