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Propared Blog

Tips and Advice for Managers, Planners, and Event Production Professionals

January 3, 2017

4 Ways Good Planning Enriches the Event Attendee Experience


As marketing and sales professionals, we all know that the experience of your attendees is critical. Businesses need to differentiate themselves more than ever, and in-person events are still a great way to do this. For the fifth consecutive year, “in-person events” tops the list of most effective marketing tactics! However, for event attendees to get the most out of their experience (and for you to get the most out of your money!), it is critical that the event be planned well.

June 2, 2016

The Two Best Lessons I Ever Learned About Writing Contracts

If you’re a professional in the events industry, you've probably seen a few contracts in your time. In fact, if you do a lot of freelancing, I’d hazard a guess that you’ve probably seen more than most from accepting new projects to renting equipment, booking venues to buying event software.

How did you feel when you first started? Did those early contracts seem intimidating? Like maybe you were signing away something you shouldn’t? That’s how it felt to me. Contracts were long, complex, and wordy. Way too wordy. What were all those clauses? Why were they important? What was I actually agreeing to do? It was enough to paralyze me at times, maybe even turn down an event or two.

May 24, 2016

Why Agile Methodology is Perfect for Event Production Companies

If you’d told me ten years ago that I’d be building software, I’d have laughed. Hard. I’m an event and theatre geek through and through. I’ve been producing events for over 15 years and I can’t imagine a more fun, exhilarating way to earn a living. But here I am, a still-active production manager running an event software company. How did that happen? That’s a story for another time. Let’s just say for now that maybe I’m a bit of a software geek, too!

Getting into software development expanded my worldview. And introduced me to the Agile Methodology. It has revolutionized not just the way we make our product but the way I now run my event company. More on that in a moment.

May 12, 2016

5 Steps to Improving the Accessibility of Your Events

The big buzz in live events these days is how to make them more interactive. How can advancements in event technology spur deeper attendee engagement? How can new data on audience behavior lead to better decision-making and more custom-tailored events?

As exciting as this is, it often overlooks a more fundamental topic that needs to be addressed; one that has just as if not a more immediate impact on engagement and interaction.


March 4, 2016

How to Create a Culture of Safety in Planning Events

When it comes to the issue of safety, event professionals spend way too much time thinking about how to react to an accident. Instead, this energy should be directed towards preventing the accident in the first place.

December 7, 2015

5 Pre-Production Practices of the Best Stage Managers

Picture a chef, getting ready for dinner service. Before a rush of diners crowd into the restaurant, he or she carefully plans the menu for the night. Even if it is a menu that's been served a thousand times. Check inventory, prioritize food preparation, instruct the team on the particulars of service, and so on. The work is a vital component to executing a successful evening. This is a chef's pre-production. Can you imagine what might happen if even the most basic of these steps were not taken?

Stage management and event production are no different. How can you expect to start a show with no plans, no research, and no road map? It doesn't matter whether pre-production is part of your contract or you simply need to find holes in your own schedule to do a little prep work. What you do before Rehearsal #1 will have a profound impact on your work efficiency down the road. Pre-production needs to be treated as part of the show. Period. Not something that may or may not happen. It must be a full part of your creative process. Though you may find your own rituals over time, here are some best practices of great stage managers.

July 30, 2014

Bold Leadership in Arts Education

Have no fear, artistic friends. There are still many a corner of our theatrical world where individuals, corporations and institutions still support and fund artistic programs geared to our youth.

Sure, we read all the time about this program getting slashed, or that company folding for lack of investment (see last week’s blog Power to the Artists for more information on the effects in the professional world). But today, we want to take a little time to celebrate those places and people who still scratch and claw to proclaim the vital importance of theater and how its inclusion in a person’s education has a profound impact on future success.

Let’s start in the Midwest - Muncie, Indiana, specifically, and a heartening story out of Ball State University. It is that time of year when the state-assisted (read: public) college submits its annual capital budget requests to the State legislature. In that $108 million dollar ask is $27.5 million for the College of Architecture and Planning and $6.2 million for the Department of Theatre and Dance.

“You can make an argument that, next to athletics, no area is as important to a university’s connection with a community as the arts,” says Bill Jenkins, chairman of the department. We couldn’t agree more. Over the past 5 years, multiple studies have been conducted in several regional school districts (most notably in New York in 2009 and Missouri in 2010) citing the direct impact that access to arts resources has on high school graduation rates.

“As budgets have been slashed and programs eliminated at the secondary school level, our theater education students have taught drama to students at the Muncie Children’s Museum, Muncie Civic Theatre and Burris High School so that no student is truly left behind as the arts continue to become more and more of a luxury at the high school level,” Jenkins is quoted as saying. So not only are art, design, theater, and stage management students finding support from the university, the students are deepening their understanding of the work by sharing their knowledge with others, truly linking generations through art and lifting up the community. Bravo, Ball State.

(seattlemusictheatre.org, 2014)

Out in the Pacific Northwest, we took note of two more stories, highlighting companies pushing arts education forward. The first highlights new development, as Seattle Music Theatre, Solid Ground, and Theatre of Possibility have come together to create new summer theatre camps for at risk youth. We linked to this article on our Facebook the other day but wanted to feature it again. There are sound business minds behind this venture and they make a compelling case for the importance of arts education in laying the framework for significant personal growth and maturation. At the same time, Oregon Children’s Theatre received a $50,000 grant from the venerable Hearst Foundation to support its outreach programs, especially those geared to anti-bullying efforts and bringing artistic opportunities to “economically disadvantaged” schools. When these stories come across our desk, we can’t help but do a little happy dance.

(Livability, 2011)

Lastly, a huge round of applause for the State Theatre of New Jersey. The nonprofit, New Brunswick-based institution has maintained a balanced budget for six years running, while reporting its highest revenue in its history this past producing season. As part of that, the company’s arts education programming participation and programming levels also reached new highs and the company was able to provide more than $150,000 in free program to disadvantaged members of the community.

All of this lifts our spirits in ways we cannot even describe. So much of what we at Propared maintain as a core value is raising the bar for and providing new opportunity for the next generation of artists and managers. Without a solid arts education, we would not be in the position we are today and we worry that there are those who do not see the kinds of value creation these stories above outline. So what do we do? We provide tools that support companies willing to take risks on teaching the arts. We work with amazing educational partners - SAE Theater in California, New York University's Tisch School, North Carolina School of the Arts, and others — to help drive up return on the investment in a solid arts education. Combining solid business planning with artistic opportunity is the strongest path to ensuring the survival of our industry, especially for our younger counterparts.

It is weeks like this that make us smile.

September 28, 2013

Talking Logistics and Event Project Management with Travis Walker








Earlier this week Travis Walker of Michael Riotto Design (MRD) was kind enough to sit down with me to discuss some of the managerial challenges he faces on a daily basis. Part of Travis' work centers around managing installation projects on cruise ships, many of which take place in dry-docks and at sea in all corners of the world.

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