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Propared Blog

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

November 10, 2017

Performing Arts Centers: Managing Part-Time Staff

 

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!

October 31, 2017

Performing Arts Centers: Working with Outside Organizations

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.

October 27, 2017

Performing Arts Centers: Managing Your Venues

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.

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