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A Producer's Point of View

by J. Randall Wedge

J. Randall Wedge, manager of The Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre in Summerside, is smiling now. All that is left to do is fill those empty seats this summer.

You hang up the phone, frozen in place, hardly believing it. After three summers of renting your facility to an outside production company for your mainstage show, the reins of producer have just been placed back in your hands to create your very own season once again. Excitement turns to panic as you realize it's already March (wasn't it September just yesterday?) and you've only got four months to make this happen.

Your mind is a blur-images flash through it-sponsorship contracts phone calls emails voice mail messages faxed guarantees splits offers deposits tech riders hospitality accommodations staffing motorcoach & tour buses. Where do your start!

My ten-step process begins.
Step one-What are our local clients saying? What do they want to see? Answer variety. That I can do.
Step two-Gather staff supervisors for suggestions, ideas, brainstorming sessions. Assemble your production team. Create a season image.
Step three-Compile a contact list of possible entertainers and agents/management companies.
Oh my God...Funding! Where is the "up-front" money coming from? Seek out programs, grants, sponsorship-email email email browse browse browse apply apply apply. Prepare a proposed budget.
Step four-Confirm with your board of directors that you have approval to continue as planned.
Step seven-Finalize all offers and contracts, dot all "i"s and cross all "t"s hopefully.
Step eight-Establish your event vision and image for your marketing plan/advertisement campaign. Where to begin? Ad cards print ads posters radio TV press releases dinner & theatre packages interviews mailing list database update website in-house programs
Step nine-Release your season to the general public. Hire additional staff as required and as budget allows.
Step ten-Relax No Way! Sell! Sell! Sell! Stay on budget! A producer's job is never finished!

My words:
The process for the mounting of a production or a season is extremely time consuming and detail oriented. With most not-for-profit organizations you are dealing with limited funding and staffing. This puts a lot more on the plate of the producer because you can't dish off some of the minor details to someone else. The bottom line is what a producer deals with daily. The bottom line of finding money, negotiating money, spending money, and balancing money to stay on budget (hopefully to break even or to make a few dollars for facility upgrades). What's enjoyable in all of this is the anticipation of what the final product will be; the creation of art and entertainment with the goal of having content/happy patrons, content/happy entertainers/performers, and content/happy staff.
Well, I've rambled on enough for now. I would like to close with wishing all producers and everyone in the entertainment business success in their upcoming seasons. I would also like to say a special thanks to my staff, especially Mary and Maurice for their consistent hard work and dedication in helping me put together our Summer on the Waterfront Festival, (hey, what do you mean I can't advertise my festival in this article?) I guess I will always be producing something. Lawn bowling anyone?

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