Posts Tagged ‘Arts Management’

Arts Managers need to network, they need to hustle, they need to work a room, they need to suck up their personal differences and play nice for two very important reasons.


1. United We Stand

If the theatre industry is to grow and gain influence, it must band together to stand up against various policies that might negatively affect our work. For example: The Western Cape Education Department is clamping down on excursion procedures. We as the theatre industry have an important relationship with bringing theatre into schools. How will this affect theatre for younger audiences and what are we doing about it?

2. Work Smart

A well-networked theatre company is able to get more done with less energy. Beth Kanter has started a whole empire just telling people about the importance of the Social Network. It raises the importance of network on the online platform and the significance of collaboration. Many hands make light work doesn’t it?

Last night was the ASSITEJ South Africa annual general meeting where Heather Parr was named as the new chairperson! (ASSITEJ is the umbrella organisation for theatre aimed at children and young people.) A very big congrats to her! The ASSITEJ SA board is made up of many a theatre stalwart in South Africa with Yvette Hardie standing as the Director of ASSITEJ and stepping down as chairperson. Yvette is also the President of ASSITEJ International.

What does this mean for theatre South Africa?

It means we’re on the map, a very important intricate map of influential theatre practitioners and festival organisers worldwide within the ASSITEJ community, outside of just the Edinburgh Festival or Canadian fringe circuit. It also gives South African theatre practitioners a chance to work together to bid for the next ASSITEJ  World Congress in 2017, which would fill every theatre in Cape Town. It means developing our own work for that festival. It means international exposure for our companies. It means South African artists have a close link to the president’s office, to open up the doors to theatre festivals world wide, all 100 plus of them.

For FTH:K, represented by Jayne at the AGM, it’s an opportunity to engage with more audiences world wide, as we have found that our work, though directed at adult audiences, often resonates hugely with young people.

In these trying times, where nearly every theatre company in Cape Town is fighting the good fight for funding, there is another aspect of running a theatre company that we should also focus on, particularly as new arts managers come into the business: the building of networks around your company.

Theatre Arts Managers who think outside of their immediate industry, outside of their rehearsal process, are the ones who seem to be making headway in the field.

Let’s get more of our theatre makers on board. Let’s grow the networks and the industry.

OfficeBLOCK closed on Saturday night and after a fantastic run, it was time for a celebration. Opening night catered for a South African and American mix of food that included corn DSCN6935dogs and mielies and mini hamburgers,and popcorn and also sorts of finger-food treats. If you hung around long enough, there were also cream tartlets and mini-pumpkin pies.

For closing night, what was going to be a braai that had both hotdogs and boerewors to again celebrate the Artsbridge journey that OfficeBLOCK would be taking, turned into a bunny chow night: home-made curries, fresh bread, salads and atchar. A solid, filling, tasty meal, that everyone of every diet could enjoy.  There was the option of vegetable curry and meat curry, and an amazing bean and banana salad, all home-made.


Often cocktail tomatoes, sliced carrots, little samoosas, tiny chicken wings and meat balls are a safe choice but what can we do to offer our audiences something new and tempting each time?  Do we rather cut the food budget and up the amount of free booze? Or do we continue to fight for the balance between food and drink? What kinds of foods can we arrange that fit out trying budgets, people’s diets and also give our audiences a 5-star welcome? Or will we always be celebrating theatre productions with culinary delights in miniature?


There have been great efforts made by theatre companies in Cape Town and they should get props. The Baxter Theatre had a huge make-over earlier this year and had an amazing variety of food, with various cold meats, breads, cheeses and jams, and biscuits that came with little tubes of chocolate or almond syrup you could flavour it with. Not to mention the cocktails that could be a little stronger with a wink and a smile to the barman – or so we heard.  The opening of KKNK was another hit: champagne that kept on coming and trays of quiches and skewered chicken being delivered by waiters  continuously. GIPCA gets a note in our books for a wonderful presentation of bread and cheese at the series of talks they held.

Theatre isn’t just about getting a bum on a seat. It’s about the entire experience being given to the patron. Considering that the audience has to drive all the way to your venue (petrol) possibly get someone to babysit the kids (cost), maybe have dinner or drinks with the people they’re with (another cost), purchase a ticket (minor cost), and then tip the car guard, it totals up to more than just the cost of a ticket. The full theatre experience will up the value of your production, ensure that your audiences will return and best of all, tell their friends about it.

To good food and even better theatre experiences: bon appétit!


I read a blog post the other day commenting on the struggle to successfully market theatre productions by theatre some theatre makers in Cape Town. The solution to this problem would be to let theatre-makers make theatre, and let arts managers do the rest.

In the Cape Town theatre industry, and this probably echoes worldwide, what theatre productions need, are arts managers. An arts manager is a company director, the person who runs the production like a business. An arts manager is not a producer who has input into the type of show the business must make. A producer might tend towards more commercial products and comprise the integrity of the artistic vision.  An arts manager is a master problem-solver.  An arts manager creates an environment for the artist to excel in, while putting all the business factors into place.

This is not to say that a director is incapable of doing all of it himself, but with time escaping us all the time, the director is at risk of doing a half-arsed job, resulting in poorly thought out and a half-executed marketing campaign.

The argument against having a someone else manage the business side of the work is that there is no budget for it. But then, is there ever budget for anything? Shows without budget operate on the currency of their network. Why should that network, which yields stage-managers, actors and writers hoping for a cut of the door, not also include a marketing manager / publicist who will only increase the number of bums on seats?

It doesn’t matter if you are the worlds best theatre-maker if no one knows about you.. does it?

Delegating and communicating

A healthy relationship between the creative and the manager ensures that the directors vision is in tact and the excited audiences know what they’re in for.

For FTH:K, Rob is the artistic director and is in the process of rehearsing OfficeBLOCK. Rob has been with the company for 6 years, and has done time as an arts manager. He understands what the job entails and so communicates his ideas with the company director, the publicist and online marketing manager who currently make up the arts management team.

This frees the creative team, the director, actors, stage manager and designer to focus on the development of their project while the administration, funding and management of the brand is run by the   arts management team.

Conceptually, OfficeBLOCK is about  “The beauty of invisible things”  which fires off a whole stream of ideas from the depths of the imagination. But it doesn’t tell the audience enough about the show. At least not in relationship to the name of the piece. In a meeting between the creative team and the arts management team, “Business as Usual” was chosen as the catch phrase.



The cutting edge, award-winning company known for it’s non-verbal visual theatre work with pieces such as Benchmarks, QUACK!,  Pictures of You, and Womb Tide.

Presents: OfficeBLOCK

The name of the show and visual typography clues

Business as Usual

 The catch phrase to incite the question: what magic comes of a company like FTH:K exploring the office block? Find out

at the Intimate Theatre this November 15th – 19th.

Contact Angela at the Office for details.

This post is part of what the company stands for in terms of arts management. Using our current show as an example is a way of educating and marketing our show. Rings back to the old sales ABC (Always Be Closing), always be talking about your show.

It’s great that there are people out there who are tired of the poorly executed marketing campaigns out there, to them we raise our glasses, be it tequila, brandy and coke, or a cuppa tea and salute them. We, FTH:K join you in the the war against unprofessional approaches to theatre and celebrate the arrival of arts management.

Ok, a little dramatic but hey, this is theatre we’re talking about.  And theatre in a tough economic environment, no less.  Doesn’t get much more dramatic than that, does it?!

Kennedy Center

This is Tanya here writing on behalf of FTH:K as I begin the second instalment of my Kennedy Center training.  As I assume you know, I am FTH:K’s Company Manager and was lucky enough to be selected as 1 of 2 South Africans to participate in a 3-year International Summer Fellowship programme at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (KC) from 2008 – 2010.  Lucky?  Ooooh, yes.  If you know FTH:K, and if you have noticed developments in the past year in the way that we are doing things, then you will ultimately have noticed the effect this Fellowship is having on the Company.  If you have only just found out about FTH:K, there’s a good chance that this Programme at the KC is the reason why.  If you have never heard of FTH:K and aren’t actually sure of how you got to this blog, I can’t help you.  Sorry.

Yesterday and today (Day 1 & 2 of the Fellowship) have largely been about orientation and set-up: getting our security badges (the KC is a national monument, after all), being allocated work stations, getting KC internet profiles, remembering where everything is in the KC, and then – the most exciting part – being allocated mentors for our projects.  Last year we attended classes and sessions throughout the 4-week programme, led largely by The Big Three: Michael Kaiser, David Kitto and Marie Mattson and their respective teams.  This year, we were asked to bring 3 projects on which we would like to work while at the KC as we’ll be working alone a lot more, but with the luxury of having access to the wealth of resources at the KC.  We won’t have many formal sessions (bar a few with The Big Three) but will have 3 weeks to be mentored through specific projects.  It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to implement ideas while receiving daily advice and guidance on the ideas we’re implementing.  It’s great great great.  I have been very vocal about what an opportunity this  Fellowship is for any Arts Manager but just in case you missed it, watch this space for the next call for applications and then APPLY!!

Given that The Big Three doesn’t have the time to meet with 18 fellows every day, we have all been assigned mentors according to the project information that we submitted some time back and I am thrilled to have been placed with Dan (the Man) who is going to be helping me devise a Fundraising Calendar that brings together the work of our Development Committee, our Membership Programme and our Artistic Programming.  I’m busy getting information together to send to Dan (the Man) so that we can start working so I don’t have much to tell you about the project itself just yet.  However I’ll be keeping you posted on (hopefully) a daily basis on what I’m doing and how the project is going. 

Until then, as the new Arts Analyst (is that what the official title is, Michael?) for the Huffington Post, this what Michael Kaiser has to say about the current state of the arts in the US.  Sure, he’s talking specifically about arts in the US but I think what he touches on is something that all arts organisations can learn something from in these troubled times.

That’s it from DC for now.  Over and out!