We’ve been making lists the wrong way.
You may think I’m crazy. After all, what’s the big deal? You think of things, you put them on a list, you do the things. The problem lies in the reason we make them to begin with.
It takes a village to run a Performing Arts Center. Anyone who’s spent time working within the walls of one knows that technicians, ushers, box office, students, maintenance crew, and other part-time staff are a major part of the success of our venue. They’re responsible for executing the day-to-day tasks that keep our world running smoothly.
Unlike full-time employees, your part-time employees have variable schedules which change constantly and availability isn’t always a given. It falls to us to track and manage the schedules, conflicts, and availability of a large roster of folks. This is time-consuming and adds a huge amount of complexity to our jobs.
Whenever I see something that takes up large chunks of our brainspace or our day, I flag it as a potential opportunity for big improvement. It’s in these areas of our workflow where even a small tweak can mean huge gains in efficiency.
So… how can we make the process of scheduling and communicating with your staff easier? I’m so glad you asked!
Managing the daily life of a Performing Arts Center is hard for many reasons. One major complicator is the fact that we constantly work with people and organizations from outside the walls of our building. Artists, rental clients, external vendors, part-time staff, and designers all have their own systems of working. We have little to no time together before we hit the ground running. It’s easy to overlook the added complexity this brings to everyone involved. Let’s take a moment to reflect on these ramifications and figure out what we can do to ease the frustration.
Performing Arts Centers hold a place of strong cultural connection and value in the communities that surround them - be it cities, universities or private institutions. They are also notoriously difficult to manage with multiple events, shows, and gatherings being planned and executed simultaneously. One of the biggest challenges we face as managers is scheduling the seemingly endless (yet somehow always limited) number of venues and spaces in our facility. Here are several variables at play that must be considered when scheduling.
Lately, we've talked with a lot of students eager to get their hands on Propared. We love this enthusiasm (and secretly blush a bit!).
However, simply exposing students to new technology can miss the bigger opportunity. Technology, used correctly, also has the ability to reinforce underlying core techniques and skills being taught. This means that it's important not to simply teach technology in a vacuum but rather to incorporate it into the larger curriculum.
This can be a challenging thing to do.
Inspired by these discussions, Melissa and I are working with educators to incorporate Propared's management platform into theatre, arts, and event management curriculums.
If you’ve ever had to hire a manager before you know how hard it is to find someone who is a good fit for your organization. Everyone dreams of landing that magic combo of skills, personality, drive, and teamsmanship. However, even when you think you’ve asked all the right questions and found the perfect person, the honeymoon doesn’t always last.
When hiring for management positions here are some considerations that will give you a better chance of hitting a home run.
It’s that time of year again! Summer theaters and festivals all over the country are gearing up for their seasons by adding loads of seasonal employees.
Onboarding new staff is not unique. Every company hires new people. What IS unique is the time we have available and the number of people we have to simultaneously onboard. Year-round management teams balloon from just a few people to a full troupe of technicians, managers, designers, and cast almost overnight.
Last month we spoke with a number of major theater companies across the country about their challenges in planning an entire season. No one really seems to like the process. It’s stressful, unwieldy, and fraught with miscommunication. Everyone is trying to represent their specific departments and needs, which leads to an inevitable collision of interests. If everything is important, how do you prioritize?
We all know that it’s smart to continually examine and improve our process. After all, there’s always room for more growth, increased efficiency, and better use of resources - especially in the Arts where budgets are tight to begin with. We know that doing these things can lead to reduced costs and fewer hours worked.
So why don’t we do it more? Or if we do try, why do we often give up before meaningful change has occurred?
Because it is really intimidating to get started. It feels like it takes more time than we have (because let’s face it we already pull magic out of thin air every day). But the reality is we often emotionally sabotage ourselves in this process before we even begin.