Questions for Conversation on the Artist-Administrator Model

by Julie Otis

in Financial Adaptation,National Conference

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(This post is a part of the Financial Adaptation blog salon curated by Adam Thurman for the 2013 TCG National Conference: Learn Do Teach in Dallas).

The following questions will be asked at the learning session, The Evolving Artist/Administrator–if you can’t be there in person, please chime in with your answers in the comments below!

  1. After having built a career as an arts administrator for decades, how could an administrator carve out a life as an artist while keeping at the table their skills as an administrator?
  2. What is the difference between an ensemble theater company and a resident theater company?
  3. When a company is comprised of artists and grows into having expanded administrative needs, what challenges does the company face in balancing having the best artistic talent as well as the best administrative talent in the pool of creative resources?
  4. Is there a size at which a company can no longer provide both creative and administrative opportunities for all of its collaborators?
  5. Are there any models that work with gradation, having some collaborators contribute artistically 75% of the time and administratively 25% of the time while having other members do just the flip side of that, contributing 75% of their time administratively and 25% of their time artistically?
  6. Is there any way to tap into the artistic talents of the administrators who are working in large theater companies? Do their structures, built of silos within silos, inherently restrict administrators from contributing artistically and restrict artists from fundraising, marketing, or contributing to financial planning?
  7. In an artist/admin blend model, how do you overcome the “too many cooks in the kitchen” problem? Or does this problem even exist in a collaborative organization?
  8. I’ve seen some small companies rotate administrative jobs among company members on a yearly or every-other-year basis. What are the pros and cons to this style of administration?
  9. If we were to create a Creative Producer training that allowed theater professionals to investigate aspects of both artistic creation and arts administration, what would be the cornerstones of this training and exploration?
  10. Beyond the fuller connection to audiences and the eye on sustainability that artists gain by participating in the artist-administrator structure, what are some of the other benefits?
  11. Does partial focus on administration ever hinder bold, risky, or innovative artistic ideas or implementation?
  12. Does this model break down barriers for audience expression and participation by “normalizing” the artist through their relationships with the community? Might the audience feel freer to experiment and contribute artistically, knowing they can trust these artists, just as we trust each other in the rehearsal hall?Related to the last question, is there a larger mission of this model to create a community where everyone is freer to express themselves through performance, create art or movement, or tell their own stories? Are we freeing people up to remember how to play?
  13. We often think about funding for theater based on showing economic impact numbers. What do you wish the measure of success was for artist-administrator modeled theater companies?

Julie Otis is delighted to have been working in the Boston theatre community for over 15 years. Prior to SpeakEasy Stage Company, she worked with ArtsBoston, Boston Theatre Works, Broadway in Bosotn, Boston Lyric Opera, the Wilbur Theater, and the American Repertory Theater. She graduated from Tufts University with a BA in Philosophy and Drama and has a Masters of Science in Arts Administration from Boston University. She is thrilled to be a part of SpeakEasy’s team and shares their love of creating breathtaking moments of intimacy and expression for artists and audiences alike.