By Kevin Gillese of Dad’s Garage Theatre Company
We are embarking on a journey of transforming our company. Our A-ha! project is one of several big ways that we are shaking things up. It’s very exciting. Everyone can see a brighter tomorrow on the horizon.
But one of the questions we must not lose sight of is: how will we make sure we are retaining the things about the company that we love, that we would miss if they were gone, whilst undergoing such significant change.
We want to be stronger economically, to provide better pay for our artists, and a degree of security for everyone who works for us. But we also don’t want to lose our indie vibe, we don’t want to sell out, go corporate and start prioritizing profit over all else. So we’ve agreed as a company to keep our culture sacred because if this place doesn’t stay a cool place to work then it doesn’t matter how stable it is financially – none of us will want to work here.
So now we’re starting to focus on the educational side of building up our video production wing to the company. We’re doing acting for the camera classes, video writing intensive workshops and so on. But the truth is that this kind of approach is already starting to counter how we might have traditionally approached new work. Dad’s Garage has historically had a fly by the seat of our pants approach, spending time learning new skills in a classroom environment is not the same as figuring things out in the trenches. That’s already a glaring violation of my pledge to keep our traditional culture sacred. Yet that’s what I’m asking of my people.
It’s occurs to me that it can’t be a simple as saying we won’t change our culture as we change our structure. The culture will change, the culture should change, even if the original spirit stays intact. It’s a matter of degrees, it’s not a one or the other type of situation. That doesn’t mean that these aren’t important conversations to have as we move forward, quite the opposite, since there is no clear cut answer to the question of how our culture will change as we grow, having an ongoing conversation is crucial.
Just like in an improvised scene we need to make strong choices, but remain flexible about where they take us if we want to have the most exciting possible outcome.