Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Next Steps: The New Kid on CTG’s White Paper

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter Drucker
Camille Schenkkan, Educational Programs Manager at Center Theatre Group
In December 2011, I received a copy of Center Theatre Group’s white paper on professional training programs for emerging theatre artists.
Here are possible reasons why they mailed me the report:
  • I serve on the National Emerging Leaders Council and have been a core member of Emerging Arts Leaders/LA since 2005; 
  • I am an alumnus of the Los Angeles County Arts Internship Program, have been a supervisor through the program six times and a Learning Community Hub leader twice; 
  • I still act as volunteer staff for the organization where I interned in 2004, Circle X Theatre Co., a small theatre company similar to many profiled in the white paper as potential intern placement organizations; 
  • I am an alumnus of Claremont Graduate University’s Arts Management program, whose students and faculty participated in the research process. 
It was like someone sent me a research paper about my life. Paging through the report, I saw familiar faces and quotations from friends. More importantly, I saw my career path reflected in the data and recommendations.

Four months later, I joined Center Theatre Group as the Educational Programs Manager, focused on the training, support and development of emerging, young artists and arts professionals. It is a distinct honor to build on the work done by Patricia and Leslie to provide professional training programs for Los Angeles’ next generation of theatre leaders.

Substantive, hands-on experience within a theatre company—large or small— provides theatre management students with a chance to take their knowledge from “page to stage.”
Working for a theatre company while pursuing my Masters allowed me to take what I learned on Monday and apply it to the real world on Tuesday… and then ask why it didn’t work on Wednesday.

Peter Drucker would be proud: CTG has already begun the “hard work” of implementing aspects of the white paper. This spring, two students from local arts management programs became the organization’s pilot class of Graduate Scholars.
In the program evaluation they created for CTG, Jessie Randall from CSU Long Beach’s Theatre Management program and Julia Baumgartener from CGU’s Arts Management program corroborated many of the ideas presented in the white paper:  

Nearly all the hypotheses presented are extremely accurate representations of the professional and curricular needs of graduate students in arts/theatre management […] The ideal internship would establish mutual benefit for the organization and the interns, so it is valuable to examine the two groups’ diverse needs – where they align and where they diverge.

Jessie and Julia’s recommendations included implementing a competitive application process, focusing on project-based learning opportunities, and integrating graduate scholars within their departments (literally and metaphorically, as a shortage of desk space often leaves our interns in odd locations). We’re taking their suggestions and looking ahead to future classes of Graduate Scholars.

Center Theatre Group will continue to use the data gathered through the MetLife/TCG Ah-Ha! Program to shape our professional training programs.
Thank you for the chance to think, to learn, and to grow. Now we’re rolling up our sleeves. Let the hard work begin!
Camille Schenkkan is the Educational Programs Manager at Center Theatre Group.  Email her at cschenkkan@CenterTheatreGroup.org. 
For more information about Center Theatre Group's Ah-Ha! research into what theatres can do to bridge school and work, please click here.

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