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Reframing Success
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Reframing Success

The 2013 StageSource Theater Conference: Reframing Success


What does it mean to be a successful artist and a successful producing organization in the 21st century? Are we using the right terms? Or can we make a shift, and delve into the work of redefining success on our own terms?

The conference took place on Saturday, June 29th at the A.R.T.’s Loeb Drama Center from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. 




  • Kristin Baker (President of the Board of StageSource)
  • Julie Hennrikus (Executive Director of StageSource)
  • Diane Paulus (Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater/Host site of the conference)


Keynote speaker Stever Robbins will be leading an highly interactive keynote presentation and workshop on redefining success. We'll learn about different kinds of success, and what it takes to balance between them. You'll learn to uncover beliefs and habits that are holding you back and in the session itself, you'll practice different techniques for moving past the beliefs. After this session, you'll be able to: 

  • Identify the habits of thought and behavior that produce stress around your career.
  • Shift between multiple perspectives of success to increase your options for how you experience success in your life.
  • Take ownership of how you experience your life (and the results you get!)
  • Defuse unconscious excuses you may use that keep you from showing up fully in your career. 

This session is about immediate results! By the time you leave, you will have practiced these techniques for yourself and experienced the results.

11:45am-1pm BREAKOUTS

Breakout sessions will be facilitated conversations about specific topics. We will assess where we are, and then brainstorm what success looks like, and how we might get there. Breakout topics include:

  • Diversity/Inclusion/Gender Parity. The StageSource report was released in February, and there have been other initiatives in the community. What are our next steps? And how do we measure success?
  • Rethinking Space. What are the space needs for the community? Can we rethink what performing arts space is? And what are the barriers to doing that?
  • Arts Activism. There are two parts to this conversation. First, how do we become better advocates for ourselves and our sector? What is important to us, and how do we leverage our concerns to help move politics and policy? And second, how do we use our work to create social change?
  • Rethinking Growth Equals Success. Does success mean having to grow your organization, or can it mean staying where you are? What is required to make successful transitions? How can the narrative around success for organizations be changed to reflect the reality?
  • New Work. If we want to plant the flag of being fertile ground for new work, what does that mean? How do we engage audiences in the process? What do playwrights need? How should we talk about the work?
  • Creative Balancing: Theater and Parenting.  How do you balance the responsibilites of parenting with a fulfilling career?  How can we create a supportive environment for our peers?

1pm-2pm LUNCH

Roundtable lunches will allow people to meet with their peers and share information and ideas that bubble up from the first part of the day.  This is where networking leads to the next big idea!

2:15pm-3:30pm WORKSHOP #1

Choose from:

Speed "Dating" for Playwrights & Directors - This workshop is about practicing your pitch, networking, and making opportunities. Playwrights and Directors will pitch themselves, and their work, and try to make a match. A perfect opportunity for early career professionals to meet.

Grantwriting and Fundraising- Sara Stackhouse and Charlotte Meehan will lead a discussion on what makes a compelling grant, resources, and advice for organizations just starting out.

Time Management - Come join Stever Robbins for a session on time management and organization, based on his book Get-it-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More. You'll learn specific tips and techniques that let you: 

  • Stay connected to your goals so you're heading in the right direction.
  • Stop Procrastinating, easily.
  • Make decisions with less effort and quickly.
  • Master your email inbox.
  • Set boundaries so you pursue your agenda, not other people's.
  • Say "No" nicely...and mean it.
  • Build strong relationships (a MUST in this business). 

Make Your Own Art - Obehi Janice, John J King and Margaret Ann Brady lead a discussion about the abundant opportunities for having the performing life you really want without waiting around for someone to give it to you through collaboration and play. 

Devised Theater Workshop - The Charlestown Working Theater's Jennifer Johnson and John Peitso will lead a high-energy workshop that will introduce participants to CWT's physical and dramaturgical approach to character and performance development. Through training and a short improvisation, the group will explore physical storytelling and connection to dramaturgical sources as the first impulse toward performance creation.

Personal Finance - This workshop will help individual artists hone their finacial skills, and small organizations start off on the right foot. 


3:45pm-5pm WORKSHOP #2

Choose from:

Portfolio Careers -- Sam Jones (Artistic Director, Freedom Trail Foundation) and Brigid O'Connor (Actor,Director, Casting Director) discuss the many ways that actors use their skills to pay the bills -- employment that feeds the creative.

Who Am I - Kevin Fennessy, Kippy Goldfarb, Ann Baker, and Cheryl Singleton lead a discussion about finding your own path through the Boston theater season -- we can't use the same audition monologues we used out of college, so how do we adapt? Also, when you look at the breakdowns of who's casting what, Who Are You? How can you see opportunity instead of limitation?

Social Media is a Stage Too: An Open Script for Online Networking, Audience Building, and Fundraising - We all know that 'finding your voice'  and 'owning your work' are crucial parts to becoming a theater artist. In this workshop we'll talk about how those two concepts connect to the digital world and what some great personal strategies are for using social media to support your work, engage collaborators and audiences, and connect you to members of the theater community near and far. This includes information on choosing which platforms are right for you, best practices within those platforms, and how building your network online can help you raise money for your projects. Mary-Liz Murray presents.

Reframing Success with Your Non-Profit Board - The theme of this StageSource conference is redefining success.  Non-profit theater boards can also benefit from rethinking and redefining their roles and criteria for success.  Old approaches to board development are no longer sufficient: faced with major shifts in the demographics of our communities, in the impact of social media on our society, and the current economic climate, the future shape of non-profit theater is up for grabs, and board will play a key role in defining this future.  The goal of this workshop is to launch a conversation about these dynamics, share and learn from some emerging best practices - in the non-profit theater world and beyond, and begin to chart some appropriate next steps.  By definition, there is as yet no tried and true formula for success, so don't expect to leave with a 6 step process, or a recipe, but a number of fruitful new approaches are emerging that we can use to guide us as we move forward. Joan Lancourt, Board Chair of Underground Railway Theater, will lead this conversation.

Access and Inclusion: Simple Steps for Organizations of Any Size - What can organizations do to create a world of inclusion for both audiences and artists? Charles Baldwin (from the Wheelock Family Theater) and Anna Fitzloff (from the American Repertory Theater) will discuss the ways you can broaden access to your programs. Think big and smart small with these ideas. They will also introduce the community to the resources of CA-NE (Cultural Access New England).

Being Your Own Business - Being in business for yourself, whether you're running a one-person acting business, a production company, or a theater, is hard! It's not enough to be creative and devoted; you actually need to run the business side of what you do, in an industry that's notorious for, well, not making much money.

Unlike Stever Robbins's other two sessions today, this session content will be 100% custom-driven by the audience's concerns. We'll have a free form conversation, in which Stever will bring his business expertise to help in any way he can. He's prepared to delve into how individual performers can increase their success, or how theaters and theater companies can increase theirs. Among the topics he'll be prepared to address:

  • How to brainstorm new (or expanded) ways of making money.
  • Strategies for developing relationships that can strengthen your career and organization.
  • Understanding markets, buying behavior, and new models of influence.
  • Issues and initiatives that the theater community can do, beyond the abilities of any one organization.

5:15pm-5:30pm CLOSING REMARKS


6:00pm-7:30pm RECEPTION





StageSource Partners