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Propared Blog

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

September 5, 2017

Propared in the Classroom: Theatre Management Education

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.

June 16, 2017

How to Not Screw Up Hiring Theatre & Event Managers

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.

May 10, 2017

How to Keep Your Head While Onboarding Seasonal Staff

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.

May 2, 2017

Season Planning: I'd Rather be Sailing


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?  

April 20, 2017

The Complicated Love Affair between Business and Theatre

Approaching art as a business can feel anathema to our creative process. In fact, I've heard people say that business gets in the way and harms the art being made, especially in reference to not-for-profit theatre.  This line of thinking is horribly detrimental to our industry.

March 17, 2015

Propared Interviews the Pros - Niklas Anderson

Nik Anderson - Designer, Manager, Electrician extraordinaire
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

November 4, 2014

The Propared Value Set, Part 1

Its hard to believe that just a short 14 months ago, a bunch of theatre folk embarked on this crazy journey of becoming software developers. And yet here we are, just a week out from finally making Propared available to the public and we can hardly contain our excitement. It gave us this wonderful opportunity to sit back and reflect on exactly what drove us down this path. What are the core values and beliefs we have that made developing our application the answer? Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a lot of those values with you and we wanted to start today with one that was echoed, albeit in a slightly different context in a beautiful New York Times interview with the actress Frances McDormand this past week. More on that shortly. First, we want to dive in to what drives us.

August 11, 2014

The Beta Interview - Ryan Kirk

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.

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