Fifteen scholars and experts from around the world met in Beijing on Sunday for four days of lectures and discussions about theater operation and management.
The China Collaboration Innovation Center for Theater Arts Management, created by the China Collaboration Innovation Center for Theater Arts Management, sought the best theater experts from the US, Germany, Russia, Britain, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, Austria, South Korea, Poland and Hong Kong.
Among the prestigious groups resent were the Yale School of Drama, the Pricing Institute, NFA International Arts and Culture, Lensoviet Academic Theater and the National Theater of Spain.
Managers from more than 40 theater groups in 18 provinces and cities also attended the event.
As an organizer of the workshop, dean of Central Academy of Drama Xu Xiang said he hoped to learn from other leaders and connect the world¡¯s most renowned drama managers to their Chinese peers.
Topics under discussion include training of personnel, financing, market operation, pricing strategies, audience, government (foundations) and theater groups, current management conditions and theater culture.
Yale’s theater training
Joan Channick, associate dean of the Yale School of Drama
Theaters in our country are still trying to find ways to scale down and reduce the cost of performances.
Theaters have started cutting cast sizes to reduce production costs. Currently, there are few government policies designed to support the performing arts. We are always looking for new ways to expose more people to high-quality drama.
A shift in our economic situation has resulted in more theaters opening. Although most are small, they are very professional.
Small theaters often cooperate with non-profit theaters. They can work together on their repertoire and share some of the costs involved in hiring actors and theater managers.
Commercial and non-profit theaters have a better chance to stay afloat when they work together. But there is a good chance that such collaborations will reduce the diversity of drama.
We enroll 65 students each year in our school. They all have a clear focus, such as directing or stage management. The average age of our students is 27, and we tend to prefer older students for studies in management. About 15 percent are from abroad.
The program is three years, with the first year focusing on a short study of professional theory. The last two years focus on occupational development, ensuring students leave the school with the practical skills and experience needed for their future occupation.
Theater management in the UK
Roger McCann, director of NFA International Arts and Culture
In UK theaters, especially in London, most productions are joint productions. Rehearsals are where we bring the actors and music together, and we have people in charge of selling tickets and promoting the shows.
In England, more than half of a theater’s income comes from box office sales, 40 percent from commission, 9 percent from donations and only 1 percent from other sources.
Most use the lion’s share of this to produce art projects, with 19 percent going to promotion, 6 percent to education and training and 5 percent to financing.
I think our financing situation is on a smaller scale than the US because our theaters have more limits. We may start relying on more individual donations.
All this money is used to guarantee the quality of each performance, pay the promoters, pay actor and employee wages, and then the theater’s rental fees.
There are 49 theaters on the west end, and most are close together. Among them are both state-supported and commercial theaters. Those enjoying government support usually set the trend in art development.
In the past decade, most of the theaters that won an Laurence Olivier Award were state supported. In some ways, the award helps to recognize important plays.
One of our most frequent discussions is about ways to find bigger success. We need to persuade our congress, local government and local business to support us. We also need to touch more viewers with our work.
Technology in art
Ulrika Holmgaard, CEO of Swedish Performing Arts
I create international works but am most active in my own country. Theater creators have moved into a new era. We are not limited to theater and drama, but can be involved in many kinds of activities. I think it is proper to refer to it as the “performing arts.”
At present, several government departments are pressuring our committee to discuss ways to make art more digital. Our members have done a lot of research, and hope the government can support their efforts to promote access.
For example, the audience can also get involved by raising issues and making contributions. On the Internet we can say that we are going to make a show and ask if someone wants to help us raise funds.
We do less work with newspapers and magazines, but are preferring blogs for comments. It’s also a way to communicate with politicians and organizations. Of course, the audience is limited. We’re trying to retool this to reach more people through Twitter and Facebook.
Theater management in China
Chen Ke, vice dean of the Department of Theater Management at the Central Academy of Drama
As the first college to teach theater management, the Central Academy of Drama has divided its curriculum into three periods, including creative planning, producing and managing, and promotion and marketing.
These parts are the core of theater management in our college, and have been at the center of our undergraduate curriculum since 2012.
Our main weakness is that our experience and data are limited. We hope that the center will help us to establish a long-term mechanism to communicate and improve our foundation.
In the next year, we plan to hold classes with basic courses, professional courses, training courses and experimental courses.