Musings by the Executive Director of the San Angelo Performing Arts Center.
Musings by the Executive Director of the San Angelo Performing Arts Center.
Technology keeps us on the edge of our toes. This weekend we managed our first Zoom call broadcast on Facebook Live and projected on a screen in one of our theatres. We had never done something like this, but were asked by an event organizer to help figure out how they could reach more people during a Cancer awareness event. So we did it. It wasn't perfect at first because we had to work out a few networking issues, but we had it going within 15 minutes.
Today is another test of technology to meet the evolving demands of the information domain. We hear marketing professionals say that organizations need to improve their Search Engine Optimization. They say that blogging is the way to go, but they don't often say which blogs to use. As with some other non-profits who created a blog on their website, we followed suit. But I got to thinking, is this the right blog forum? In a world dominated by Google and its vast array of statistics and data mines, I determined that it may be more important to blog on Blogger and then link that to our website. Afterall, Blogger is connected to Google and I can imagine unseen AI-bots combing through my text and categorizing it for the data behemoth.
We'll see if it works.
To further elevate the quality of this post for our digital overlords, I queried ChatGPT about interesting facts about theatre in October. This is what it said.
October is an exciting month for theater enthusiasts, with various events, historical milestones, and interesting facts associated with the world of theater. Here are some intriguing facts about theater in October:
-National Arts and Humanities Month: October is recognized as National Arts and Humanities Month in the United States. This month-long celebration emphasizes the importance of theater, arts, and culture in society.
-Shakespeare's Birth and Death: William Shakespeare, one of the most renowned playwrights in history, was born on April 26, 1564, and died on April 23, 1616. His birth and death are celebrated in October in some parts of the world, coinciding with the autumnal equinox.
-Halloween Theater: October is the perfect time for spooky and Halloween-themed theater productions. Many theaters stage plays, musicals, and events that embrace the eerie and macabre, adding a touch of fright to the season.
-The Tony Awards: The Tony Awards, which recognize excellence in live Broadway theater, are usually held in June, but they are a significant event in the theater world. October often marks the beginning of a new theater season in Broadway, making it an exciting time for theater fans.
-Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Some theaters and theater organizations hold special events and fundraisers in October to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and support. These productions are often referred to as "pink theater."
-Arthur Miller's Birthday: The renowned American playwright Arthur Miller was born on October 17, 1915. He is best known for plays like "Death of a Salesman" and "The Crucible."
-World Ballet Day: While not theater in the traditional sense, October 1st is celebrated as World Ballet Day, showcasing the art of ballet, which often features prominently in theater productions.
-Anniversary of 'The Phantom of the Opera': Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic musical, "The Phantom of the Opera," had its London premiere on October 9, 1986. It has since become the longest-running Broadway show in history.
-International Stage Management Day: October 10th is recognized as International Stage Management Day, celebrating the hard work and dedication of stage managers who ensure the smooth operation of theatrical productions.
-The Nobel Prize in Literature: While not specific to theater, the Nobel Prize in Literature is often awarded to playwrights and authors whose works have made a significant impact on the literary and dramatic world. The Nobel Prize ceremony takes place in December, with announcements in October.
-October Revolution and Russian Theater: In Russia, the October Revolution in 1917 had a profound impact on the development of theater. It led to the establishment of Soviet theater and innovations in theatrical production.
These are just a few interesting facts and events related to theater in October. It's a month filled with a rich history of performances and celebrations of the arts. Whether you're a theater enthusiast or a casual theatergoer, October offers a variety of experiences for all.
For the San Angelo Performing Arts Center, October is a month full of events, shows, and activities. Here is a short list.
7 Oct: San Angelo Symphony
7 Oct: Cancer Awareness Event
8 Oct: Angelo State Wind Ensemble
12 Oct: Kyiv Grand Ballet presents Snow White
14 Oct: Etta May and the Southern Fried Chicks
15 Oct: San Angelo Chorus
17 Oct: Glenn Middle School Orchestra
20 Oct: Ballet San Angelo Sharing Dance Day
23-25 Oct: Spoken Word In-Residency Workshop at CHS & LVHS
25 Oct: SAMFA Lustre gallery and car show
26 Oct: Spoken Word night featuring Outspoken Bean and students
27 Oct: Mariachi meets Beethoven
27 Oct: Rocky Horror Picture Show
27 Oct: Be Theatre presents She Kills Monsters
29 Oct: Blackshear Heights Fall Festival and Haunted House
This is a multi-part series to provide insight on the Performing Arts industry and what I've learned in two years as the Executive Director for SAPAC.
Non-profit performing arts management is a challenging profession that I have likened to being in the armed forces. It is a dynamic environment that requires near term coordination and execution, long term planning, risk mitigation, operational assessments, and area analysis.
Every event is similar to a military training exercise. Planning usually begins 6-8 months out, and sometimes 1-2 years depending on the size of a show. During this planning and coordination phase, we finalize contracts and do initial coordination; this includes developing a marketing plan. Everything has to be in place either at the start of a season or at least 3 months out from the show. However, as planning for the upcoming season takes place, you're executing the for the current season of shows.
3-6 weeks out from the show, the Production Manager and Technical Director normally 'advance' the show by meeting with the Tour Manager and others to solidify the plan prior to execution.
On the day of the show, all of the prior coordination and planning comes together. It begins with RSOI: reception, staging, onward movement, and integration of the touring production. Like the stevedores at a port, the freelance tech staff off load equipment from trailers and stage them within the auditorium. Tour staff designate spaces backstage for artists while the tech staff move into their assigned positions and begin installing lightsets, backdrops, and other props for the show.
Lastly, other tech staff integrate the tours equipment with the house lights and sound to ensure that all systems are ready for sound checks and last minute rehearsals prior to the show.
To witness the process is amazing. Sometimes it may take 6-8 hours just to build a set for a 90 minute production. But it is a great feeling to be a part of something like a touring Broadway show or an internationally renowned artist.
The Murphey Performance Hall is able to download two semi-trucks at a time. We've had up to five for some of our bigger shows.
Staging equipment is key to a speedy load-in of equipment. Many tours bring their own light sets and other set pieces that can fill the space on the stage.
When everything is in place, it is a wonderful feeling.
But the work never really stops. Since each venue may be different than previous tour stops, artists often have to work on spacing for dance numbers and other cues.
Once the show is over, then the operations transition to redeployment. It usually takes half the time to repack the equipment and load it onto the trucks. Once this is complete, the staff also begins cleaning and restoring the theatre back to its basic state to prepare for the next show.
Some theatres and venues may have 2-3 shows a week, which requires a lot of coordination and synchronization. Others may only have 2-3 shows per month.
If you would like to know more, follow this blog as we provide more insight to this world to help aspiring professionals explore another world of possibilities.
Our 8th Season at SAPAC will look a little different this year than in the past. We are shifting gears to focusing on becoming a venue of choice in West Texas where local, regional, and national promoters may use our space for their tours, shows, and events. In fact, in the past two years, we've seen a steady increase of promoters planning event in our spaces.
This is inline with our mission: To provide local, national, and international arts organizations state-of-the-art facilities; in a way that ensures the success of local arts organizations, enables and encourages quality and diverse programming, and promotes cultural and educational opportunities for all so that we enrich the lives of people who live in our community.
While we will continue to present some shows, it will not be on the scale of previous seasons as we will need to seek grants and sponsorship to help underwrite each show. We are still a young non-profit performing arts organization and there are some key things we must have in place to allow us to return to being both a robust presenting organization and a state-of-the-art venue.
The number one priority is to grow our operating endowment. An endowment is essential to every successful presenting venue in the US. In fact, many of the venues that reside along I-35 and to the east have substantial endowments that they've grown over the decades. The Miller Outdoor Theatre is a great example of this as they celebrate their Centennial this year. They are able to offer free shows of world class performers to their patrons.
The business of performing arts is a complex and challenging endeavor as a multitude of factors evolve and change over the years. Our goal is to be the visionary and presenting venue of choice in our area of West Texas. I am confident we will get there, together.
This blog post was written with the help of OpenAI. Welcome to the modern world.
The world of performing arts is a mesmerizing realm where creativity, talent, and precision come together to captivate audiences and stir emotions. At the heart of this magical world are performing arts centers, the stages where artists from various disciplines bring their talents to life. In this blog post, we will take a closer look behind the curtain to understand how a performing arts center works and the intricate web of people and processes that make it all possible.
Vision and Planning
Every performing arts center begins with a vision. This vision typically includes goals related to cultural enrichment, education, and community engagement. A team of arts administrators, architects, and designers collaborate to plan and design the center. They consider factors such as the center's size, layout, acoustics, and aesthetics to ensure it meets the needs of artists and audiences.
In San Angelo, this vision began in 2005 when a group of citizens came together with the goal of establish a performing arts venue that would be able to support large scale Broadway style productions. At the time, San Angelo's existing spaces could only support small acts and local performances.
Fundraising and Financing
Performing arts centers often rely on a combination of public and private funding sources, including government grants, philanthropic donations, corporate sponsorships, and ticket sales. Fundraising campaigns and grant applications play a crucial role in financing the construction and ongoing operations of the center.
At SAPAC, we are working on growing our Envision Endowment to guarantee our future as an organization. In a world transformed by streaming home entertainment, video games, virtual reality technology, and a myriad of other distractions, an operations endowment is critical to maintaining the proper staff, updating equipment, and ensuring we provide the best service to local, national, and international arts organizations and performers. Our target is $4 million, so that we establish a baseline funding stream to underwrite operations throughout the year.
Our Envision Endowment will be further supplemented by grant writing, sponsorship, and patron support. We are confident with the right balance of funding sources that we will be able to steadily grow the performing arts scene in the Concho Valley and help transform the landscape of performing arts throughout West Texas.
Facilities Management is a critical, mission essential activity that we perform on a daily basis at SAPAC. Our goal is to ensure that we not only create inviting spaces for our guests and performers, but we also want to ensure everyone's safety and to serve as excellent stewards of our venue resources.
Programming and Artistic Direction
Programming is the heart and soul of a performing arts center. Artistic directors and programming teams curate a diverse range of performances, including theater productions, musical concerts, dance recitals, and more. These professionals work closely with artists, agents, and managers to schedule performances that align with the center's mission and appeal to a wide audience.
As SAPAC forges ahead, we are intent on partnering with local, regional, and national promoters to bring the best in live entertainment to San Angelo and its surrounding communities. In the past, we used to present a very full season of up to twenty shows. However, it is not a tenable course of action to go it alone.
Marketing and Promotion
To fill seats and engage the community, performing arts centers invest in marketing and promotion. This involves creating compelling promotional materials, leveraging social media, partnering with local media outlets, and collaborating with artists to build excitement around upcoming performances. Successful marketing campaigns play a pivotal role in attracting audiences and generating revenue.
Technical and Production Teams
Behind the scenes, technical and production teams work tirelessly to ensure seamless performances. Lighting designers, sound engineers, stage managers, and costume designers collaborate to bring each production to life. The technical crew operates complex equipment and ensures that everything runs smoothly during rehearsals and performances.
Box Office and Ticketing
The box office is the frontline of a performing arts center. Ticketing agents help patrons select seats, process ticket purchases, and provide information about upcoming events. Ticket sales are a significant source of revenue, and efficient box office operations are crucial for the center's financial sustainability.
The audience experience is paramount in a performing arts center. Ushers, hospitality staff, and security personnel work together to create a welcoming and safe environment for patrons. The goal is to ensure that every visitor enjoys a memorable and comfortable experience from the moment they arrive until the final curtain call.
A performing arts center is a complex ecosystem where artistry, management, and community converge. It takes a dedicated team of professionals, from administrators to technicians, to create a space where creativity thrives and audiences are transported to different worlds through the magic of performance. The intricate web of people and processes behind the scenes is what makes a performing arts center a beacon of culture and a vital part of any community's identity. So, the next time you attend a show at your local performing arts center, take a moment to appreciate the countless individuals working tirelessly to make that moment possible.