On post mortems and transparency

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 Leave a Comment

A great post from Arts Marketing on transparency has me thinking about the direction of this blog. In general, our blog functions as a hub of what we're doing, but it focuses on the positive, omitting negative reviews and internal conflicts.

On the one hand, I think that's right - this blog should be a positive window into what we're doing, and it should tread carefully where the feelings of our artists are concerned. But, I agree with Chad that ultimately, it is healthier for a company to tends towards openness. The truth will out, and staying ahead of it gives you credibility.

The truth is also, of course, more interesting than spin, and therefore better at creating interest and connection in our process.

That said, most of our Pretty Theft post mortem should remain internal, but I can say it was our hardest and best post mortem yet - specific, honest, with an eye towards solutions rather than endlessly rehashing problems. Communication and clarity of organizational structure remain challenges for us, even after all of the work we did at our last retreat. It seems each show demands a new variation on our working arrangement, and while that flexibility is a strength, it can lead to confusion and ultimately, frustration. Identifying at the beginning of each process a clear hierarchy of decision making, clarifying expectations, and communicating time lines is something we're doing, but can definitely improve upon. Finding a way to give our Members a sense of ownership in all of our projects, regardless of their personal level of involvement, needs further attention. We need to continue to articulate to others how we work aesthetically, and how that method can flex to include contrasting working styles. And finally, the difficulty of wearing both financial and artistic hats makes certain decisions complex.

But despite those challenges (and others that shall remain mysterious and internal), I was extremely proud of the passion and relentless attention to detail that lead to our successul production of Pretty Theft. We learned a great deal, further clarified core values, worked with some great new (and familiar) artists, and shone light on a beautiful play. On to the next!

And what, dear reader, are you thoughts on organizational transparency? And Ensemble structures? Please share...


  • Zack Calhoon said:  

    I believe in transparency. I also commend you for continuing to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the company infrastructure. I've been on the ground floor of the founding of several different companies and have seen how easily it can go of the rails.

    Aesthetics, ethos, distribution of labor and "fair" casting are always the issues that come up. Someone always gets left doing all the grunt work, whether it be bookkeeping, marketing/publicity, or technical direction. From what I've seen, Flux has a great handle on these issues.

    The Flux Sundays is one way for all the artists in company/theatrical community to constantly flex their muscles and take part in the selection of new plays for the upcoming season. Also the short play series, "Poetic Larceny", Flux included this year on the dark nights helped to distribute the performance opportunities as well.

    In addition to all these great ideas, you have a solid group of leaders. Most indie theatre companies have an artistic director and an executive director/managing director. Flux has an Artistic Director, an Executive Director, a Managing Director, and a Production Manager as well as a core group of artistic members.

    In short, it may feel like you have a lot to learn about making the company work more efficiently from in there, but out here it looks like you have a company that definitely on the right track.

  • August Schulenburg said:  

    Thanks, Zack. That's good to hear:) Looking forward to playing with Paint next Sunday...