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Propared Blog

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

April 6, 2017

Improving your Production Process is Totally Doable

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.

September 21, 2016

3 Quick Tips for Building Event Schedules that Make Sense for Vendors

Stop me if this sounds familiar. You’ve just sent out the latest production schedule for an upcoming event. Shortly after, you get a call from a slightly harried vendor.

So, I just got your email and...what am I looking at? I’m not sure what applies to my crew. Can you just tell me where and when we need to be on site?”

This happens all the time in events. Coordinating so many intricate details is complicated, especially with multiple stakeholders. You’ve got your team, the client, vendors, the venue, freelancers, and/or volunteers. But each group, even each person may only be responsible for a few tasks.

April 4, 2016

6 Things Every Event Production Company Should Be Doing Right Now

There’s a well-known quote attributed to the writer, Hunter S. Thompson that reads: “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” (Technically, it’s a bit of a paraphrase of a much older quote from Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield but why quibble?) For production managers, this usually means more work (time!) and more money when executing an event.

In today’s competitive marketplace, those are scary propositions. Especially for smaller companies struggling to carve out a niche. As the stress of making ends meet grows, the idea of cutting corners becomes more attractive. Even if you know it isn’t the right choice.

May 15, 2015

How Does Propared Work?

All of us at Propared are constantly looking for ways to make working life easier for our fellow live event professionals. This brand new infographic shows how easy it is to create Projects and collaborate with your people.

November 13, 2014

And Here We Go - A Few Words from the Founders

It’s hard to believe that a mere 18 months ago, Propared was nothing more than a shared thought - a hope for something better. It was something to make our live event colleagues and us happier, a little less stressed, more efficient. It was an idea for a system that could empower us all to be better managers and teammates, to help raise the level of performance for everyone. Truly, it was a desire to provide whatever support we could to the people who work so hard in our industry in reaching their full potential.

Now here we are, at the realization of that idea and a mere prelude to what it will become. It has a name, a mission, and a platform. It boasts a dedicated and enthusiastic team. And we keep pinching ourselves that this day has finally arrived.

The picture above was taken in Stari Grad, a tiny, sleepy port town on the island of Hvar in Dalmatia, Croatia. It was the perfect place to breathe and reset. Two of us, Mel and Ryan, had been running Tinc, a live event production company, for 6 years and the work was crazy. In all that time, we hadn’t really been able to separate ourselves from the day-to-day operation of our company. Finally, the moment came when wepractically pushed ourselves out the door, forcing each other to step away and clear our heads.It was this time away that allowed us to look at the bigger picture, see everything we had done and everything we both needed and wanted to do. We were able to see the genesis of Propared in bits and pieces, choices we made to make Tinc's operations more efficient. And we saw an opportunity to build something more robust and unique for our industry, rather than continue to rely on a Frankenstein's monster of programs that each solve one problem but create a whole series of others. When we returned, we pow-wowed with Derek, passed some ideas back and forth, and Propared was born.

What's amazing is that the very idea of us stepping back and looking at the big picture is exactly what Propared is now designed to support. Managers, have the ability to see all the information relevant to their work in one place and can make important decisions quickly and confidently. They spend more time actually managingand less time moving from daily task to daily task.

This is the conversation we want to have with all of you. What does it really mean to be a manager? When we all take a step back and strip away the clutter, what will help us all perform better for our colleagues, our organizations, and ourselves? It is asking those questions and hearing your answers that have got us to where we are today. And it is what will continue to drive us forward.

On behalf ofour team, welcome to Propared. We are here and ready to revolutionize the management of live events. We are here in support of you, fellow stage and production managers. We have your back, designers and event planners. Theatre and dance companies and film production houses, our lines are open. Let's make our industry even better than it already is.

-Mel, Ryan, & Derek, cofounders

July 18, 2014

Power to the Artists

It has been a whirlwind 10 months since Propared first embarked on this amazing journey to transform the processes by which we all manage live events. This week we proudly launched Propared in full Beta testing, inviting the first users into the system that can actually supplant the "old way" of live event management. We'll be hearing from CEO Ryan Kirk in the coming days about what this time has been like. But today, we want to spend a bit of time talking about the massive shifts in our industry over the past 5-10 years and how we see Propared stepping up to support it moving forward.

We came across an amazing article written by Rebecca Novick, founder of San Francisco's Crowded Fire Theatre Company. In it, she makes a bold case for putting artists and the work at the center of a company's financial/business decision making. In other words, a theatre or artistic collective is only as good as the art it produces and the quality of the art relies solely on the procurement and retention of the highest quality of artists. So if an institution has, over time, engaged seriously talented individuals and that institution has benefited from the work, great, right? That institution is now worthy of our patronage and financial support forever. Hang on, Ms. Novick writes. Past success alone should not be a reason for continued support of that institution. It is the artists - new, seasoned, and master - that we should invest in and it is the institution's responsibility to nurture that talent. Ultimately, she writes, what does it matter how this art is produced and in what house? Administration and support should grow up around the art out of necessity. Art should not be procured in an attempt to "pay for" that system.

Some very big ideas - granted, her piece was written in 2011. But looking at the events of the past few years, clearly, something needs to change. Let's start with some big news over the past two months. We were saddened to hear of the continued struggles of the Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC), as it fights to regain solvency and retain its powerful voice in the development of thoughtful, provoking new American theatrical work. There is still a distinct possible the company will find angels in the community to financially support it for its 40th season and beyond.

(Karen T. Borchers/Mercury News)

However, there was no 11th hour reprieve for San Jose Repertory, which was forced to shutter its doors under increasingly heavy financial obligations and decreasing sales (side note: erstwhile SJ Rep artistic director, Rick Lombardo is currently helming The Snow Queen at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, having first premiered it in San Jose in 2013). Carousel Dinner Theatre in Ohio, Intiman in Seattle, Theatre of the Stars in Atlanta, NYC Opera...the list of reorganized, gutted, or outright shuttered companies over the past 5 years, many of them venerable old standards is alarming.

While there is no smoking gun that points to the crux of the problem, one thing is certain. This damaging cycle hurts individual artists, managers, and stage crew the most. When a company goes under, not only does an artist lose an outlet for work, the very freedom and creativity that ultimately drives them to take on so many different projects becomes stifled in a search for "safe" and "secure" employment. It is completely understandable. How long can a person be expected to take risks without the promise of stability? Doubtless this applies to producers and managers as well. Bills need to be paid - it must be incredibly difficult to make the decision to pass on a new, challenging piece of art because it won't meet debt obligations the way a 40th revival production of an older, tested work will.

As freelancers ourselves, we understand this stress. And we also know that we can't change the decisions that companies make - how to staff, create, market, and innovate within their frameworks (for-profit or non). What we can do is try to offer as much power and efficiency as we can to the individuals. This is one of the principal tenets behind the development of Propared - to give the power back to the artist. And when we say artist, we truly believe that everyone who works on a show or a live event production is an artist in his or her own right. When we lay a foundation of sound business practices, it can create a greater sense of freedom, encourage more risk taking, and hopefully increase the engagement of our audiences. We would see longer careers, increased diversity and variety of work, and stability where there is currently little to none.

Of course, Propared is just a program, right? Or is it part of the new way artists create and manage live events in years to come?