Intriguing Thoughts from an Arts Administrator

In April, the Intiman Theatre in Seattle abruptly canceled its season and laid off its staff. Now Jim Jewell, an arts administrator and playwright in Seattle, has posted an Open Letter to the Intiman Board on Seattlest. No one’s commented yet, but I’d love to hear from some other administrators about these thoughts. Three things in particular:

1. Dump seasons and subscriptions.

The worst-kept secret in non-profit theatre is the failure of the subscription model. Only slightly better-kept is the failure of it’s sister-cousin, the season. Artistic Directors talk about the limits and demands that turn crafting a season into an exercise in the lowest common denominator. One failed model driving the failure of another. It’s time both were abandoned….You have the opportunity to instead consider a fluid, ongoing calendar, one mainstage production every month, or every six weeks, scheduled as far out as contracts can be signed….

2. Partner with smaller companies.

A traditional theatre company produces a season, but the kind of theatrical production company I am asking you to consider is continuously filling a calendar. A portion of that calendar should be work directly produced by the production company, but in the dual role of curator and venue manager the company can develop partnerships that produce easily 50% of the calendar content….

3. “Relentless Localism.”

Theatre is an art form grounded in time and place, and it is beyond time for Seattle theatre to embrace that truth. Intiman has the opportunity to brand itself as Seattle’s Playhouse and to execute this branding across multiple levels. Hire and source locally. Find and tell stories that matter to people that live in this time and this place right now, and engage in constant dialogue with those people to find out what those stories are.

There’s much more here.

(via Paul Mullin)


One Reply to “Intriguing Thoughts from an Arts Administrator”

  1. Couldn’t agree more, given what I’ve witnessed on the theatre scene in New Orleans. Here, our best venues collaborate amongst themselves, and while there are still season subscriptions, they’re not as important as they once were. The theatres that have stuck to the old, seasonal model are gradually changing or going belly-up — including one of America’s most venerable:

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