Planning for Next Season

So I haven’t started my current season yet and I am already deeply involved in planning the next one. Given that I am new to the position and don’t even know how people will react to the upcoming shows, I am going to be making a lot of assumptions about what people like.

Having looked over the materials from my visit to Spokane, I have to submit a list of names of people I would like to present to the president of the booking consortium tomorrow.

Tonight I went over the house of one of my co-workers and I showed them the DVDs and publicity materials for the performers I am thinking of booking. The reason for this was two-fold- One, they have a better sense of what sells than I do. Even though they may be unfamiliar with some of the genres I am looking at introducing to the theatre, they do provide educated viewpoints in a number of areas.

Another reasons is an attempt at the open book management that I mentioned way back in February. I hope to involve/inform the staff about the elements that go into the decisionmaking and budgeting processes in the hopes that they will become invested in improving matters and controlling costs.

It occurs to me though that open book management may not work too well in organizations where people don’t have anything to gain or lose. Being part of a state institution, there is no opportunity for profit sharing, bonuses, extra vacation, etc. Turning a profit could result in the ability to buy new equipment or perhaps hiring more people to help out. Or those things could occur if we don’t.

Because of collective bargaining agreements, I am reminded that it would take one of them killing someone in broad daylight in front of 10 unimpugniable witnesses and a guy with a camera and yelling “At last my 6 months of meticiously planning has come to fruition” to actually cause them to be fired. So there is nothing much too lose either.

On still another hand, the folks I work with do have pride in their work and are glad I am here with a vision so there is plenty of opportunity to rally their support to cut costs and work more effectively and effect improvements. So I am optimistic.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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