Everything has a growth curve. You begin in ignorance, you learn, you grow and you become proficient. Sometimes you become extremely skilled in something. It’s that magical combination of skill and talent coming together to create something more than either part is alone. What happens next often makes the difference between the work-a-day drudges and the shining stars in an organization. Some people reach a satisfying level of proficiency and stay there until they realize their industry has passed them by. Others never stop seeking new information, learning, and bringing new ideas to their work.
Theatre management is no different. Whether you came to theatre management after a career in another type of management, or whether you have no real training, your future depends on whether you choose to continue learning, or choose to keep doing the same things day after day. I know it can be hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes, but making continued learning a priority will make you a better administrator, and help your organization to be successful.
One of the easiest ways to continue learning is to read theatre industry publications. You can do this either online or in hard-copy –whatever suits you best. These publications are great for showing you trends, products and emerging opportunities. They’re also good at bringing legislative changes to your attention.
Another easy way to keep learning is to read general business publications. I recommend these because, when it comes to management, there isn’t a huge difference between managing theatre and managing other businesses. In the end, we all have to deal with personnel, finances, boards, government reporting, etc., etc., etc. There are very few areas of running a non-profit that are significantly different in day-to-day management from the day-to-day of other businesses. So read general, and think theatre!
One of the best resources for continued learning in theatre management is the conference. If you look, you’ll find that most states have annual conferences for Non-Profit Management, Community Theatre, or Theatre Management. In addition to these, organizations such as AACT (American Association of Community Theatres) and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre sponsor conferences that feature workshops for theatre administrators. These conferences are THE place to network with other’s who do what you do and can understand the challenges that you face. It’s a great way to build a personal network of people you can turn to for advice and ideas when you’re faced with situations that need new solutions.
You have the choice to grow or to stagnate in your work. Seeking out information, and opportunities to grow, increases your value to the organization and that helps the organization.
Do you know of a great publication or conference for theatre professionals? Share it with me in a comment.