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Thursday, November 18, 2010 Leave a Comment

This post continues on our updates on the changes that came out of our Annual Retreat - past posts have focused on Core Values and Aesthetic Values.

A change in Flux's Membership structure has been in effect on the ground for some time now, and we thought it was time to tell you about it. Some of you may be curious about the inner mechanics of Flux; other structure junkies may find this change interesting in its move away from organizational rigidity towards a flexibility based on mutual trust.

Those paying close attention may have been familiar with our past two-tiered Membership structure of Core Members and Members. We decided that we would move away from that two-tiered structure into a single Membership category. There will be no more Core Members of Flux. Instead, there will simply be Members, all of whom have the same level of rights and responsibilities. Membership is now seen as an Artistic Partnership. All Members of Flux are committed to an Artistic Partnership with each other. (To clarify, Members will still be called Members - Artistic Partnership is capitalized here as the central definition of Membership for emphasis, but we are not changing our titles to Artistic Partners).

What does this Artistic Partnership look like?

  • It is committed - all Members are doing a similar amount of work.It is based on equality - there will be a single voting process that treats all Membership votes equally. Department Directors will retain control over the day to day functioning of their departments.
  • It is built on belief in each other - the season discussion includes a frank conversation about the artistic needs of each Member. There is no system of artistic guarantees, rather an open conversation about how each Member will fit into a current season. Because Membership is an Artistic Partnership, this conversation will naturally lead to artistic opportunities for Members, because we will want to create those opportunities for each other. This discussion of artistic opportunities balances the needs of individual artists with the overall good of the Ensemble, with Members expected to be mature contributors to that discussion.
  • It is maintained by trust - rather than an overly complex laundry list of responsibilities, Members are expected to be self-starting catalysts who don't need to be told what to do, or always checked up on to make sure they're completing work. An Artistic Partner is someone who looks for every opportunity to move the Ensemble forward.
  • It is long term - as Artistic Partners, we are committed to each other, and the Ensemble, for the long haul.

The primary rights of Membership are voting rights. All Members vote in all major decisions the Ensemble makes. The current decisions that require a Membership vote are as follows:

Votes that belong to all members:
  • Season selection of plays (major majority)
  • Season theme (majority)
  • Director selection for full production (major majority)
  • Budget (majority)
  • Performance space (majority)
  • Performance schedule/calendar (majority)
  • New Members and Removing Members (unanimous)
  • Friends Of Flux (majority)
  • Changing the working agreement/amendments - mission, core & aesthetic values (major majority)
  • Retreat invites – voting structure (unique)
  • Adding or subtracting programming (major majority)
The primary responsibilities of Membership are unique to each Member, with the expectation that each Member will be contributing a similar amount of effort. However, some responsibilities exist for all Members, including:

Responsibilities that belong to all members:
  • Taking a daily leadership role in the governance of Flux
  • Making significant artistic contributions
  • Contributing to the execution of every aspect of production
  • Showing up for load-in, tech, front of a house, and strike; and providing pre-tech production assistance
  • Attending Flux meetings regularly
  • Showing financial stewardship by helping fundraising efforts
  • Being an ambassador for Flux
Why this change? Because the division between Core and Regular Members, with their differing levels of rights and responsibilities, was simply unsustainable. We learned after a lot of trial and error that at the leadership level of our Ensemble, we needed an equality of rights and responsibilities. But this change required the creation of a new circle of engagement for people making significant contributions to Flux that for whatever reason were not able or willing to commit to the structure of Artistic Partnership outlined above.

That circle became Friends of Flux, and it will be the subject of our very next post. If there are any other Ensemble companies reading this post, I'd love to hear how your org structure matured over time, and what you learned along the way.