Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Artists Within

Howdy from Denver.

We of Curious Theatre Company are very jazzed recipients of a THINK IT grant to explore reinventing the resident artistic company model for the 21st century American theatre, by re-centering artists within producing organizations.

As a 13 y.o. company, our teen years are bringing tremendous growth- with a greatly increased staff, audience and donor base, budget and network of artists.

With this professionalization, we sense the theatre has leaned a bit away from the spirit of artistic fellowship on which it was founded.

In the early years, the artistic company and staff were the same folks. Handsome leading man Chris Reid was the Box Office Manager. Our stage manager Lisa Boehm was our bookkeeper. I (gorgeous leading woman... no, I lie) was the Marketing Director.

But the organization has evolved and the artistic company is no longer steeped in the daily operations of the organization. And (with a few exceptions) the staff is no longer directly linked to the stage craft.

Don't get me wrong: If lighting designer Shannon McKinney never has to paint the bathroom again, I'm sure she won't pout.

But with a staff of 13, a board of over 20 and an artistic company of 18, how do we make sure that Curious doesn't start to lean a little- well- bureaucratic? How do we put artists back in the center of the organization while retaining our wonderful, competent staff?

Thus begins our journey.

We'll be visiting 6 or so theatres throughout the country, bringing in 3 of our theatre hero(in)es to talk about the conundrum and doing a heap more research. We're still discussing the who and where, but I'll keep you posted.

Please give us your thoughts! Post a comment here, or email me at

Mare Trevathan
Company Member, Curious Theatre Company

Painting by Jeanne Echternach:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mare,

    Childsplay has been engaged in just this search for the last two year -- trying to figure out how to got back to our ensemble-based mentality while operating a mid-size arts organization. Interestingly enough, we started with your question "how do we put the artists back at the center of the organization" and ended up focusing on the question "how do we put the act of art-making -- and for us that means strikingly original theatre -- back at the center of the organization." We're now implementing a new, ensemble-based business model. We'd be happy to share our process with you!

    Jenny Millinger