This is an excerpt from Producing Dance With HKPropel Access by Robin L. Kish,Wilson Mendieta,Jennifer Backhaus,Marc Jordan Ameel,Samantha Waugh,Kerri Canedy & Todd P. Canedy.
The previous chapters discussed a wide range of factors that take us far beyond the first inspiration to create. The information in a clearly and thoroughly articulated artistic vision is the foundation of all production choices moving forward. The information provided by tools such as the SWOT analysis and understanding the logistics of structural organization, work environments, and the budget supplies an artist with a tangible direction and a way to navigate the project.
After clarifying the artistic vision and logistical considerations, you can start bringing this vision to life. Getting started requires integrating these elements to create a comprehensive production. You’ll need to create a plan that pairs artistic vision and the creative brief with logistical analysis to align creative strengths with material realities. Making this plan takes an understanding of where your work sits creatively conceptually, structurally, and financially in the market and artistically among the collaborators. It takes a strong collaborative team with the work’s best interest in mind to create a performance full of considerate choices and thorough exploration.
In any production, these decisions need to fall within the laws of nature and within the resources available. This chapter will focus on finding a venue, planning for income and expenditures, and marketing to support the work. These tasks are critical from a logistical perspective and offer the opportunity to continue building your network and your reputation in the arts community. They will also deepen your connection with your audience.
The venue where a dance is performed is a key component. For a student this may be predetermined, but as you grow as an artist and take your work off campus, securing a space will become a major focus as you continue to develop your craft. Some spaces provide you with essential components such as light and scenery design and a production team. Others will be just shells, and it will be up to you to find your collaborative team.
When searching for a venue, be prepared to do some homework to determine whether a site is appropriate for the type of work you are doing. Be prepared to pay good money for a rental; the cost is relative to geography, venue size, amenities, and length of residence. The process is somewhat like looking for an apartment. When you want to contact a venue, look for a page for rentals or a link on the website. There will often be a name or department associated with venue rentals, and they should get back to you within a reasonable amount of time. (If they don’t, you probably don’t want to partner with them anyway.) These contacts are usually from the facilities, production, or business departments.
Once you tour a space, you can ask to speak to all these departments, and you probably should. Facilities can tell you specifics about amenities, logistics, safety, and much more. Production can tell you about the capabilities and limitations of the space in terms of your spectacle. And the business contact can work with you on the contract, including the expenses associated with using the venue.
Ask questions, even if you don’t think it’s important, because it probably is important. Every venue has its quirks, so there’s a story for everything. Ask questions even if you know the answers! This can test your would-be business partners. It can keep them honest and show you how trustworthy they are. Ask about the cost, because when you go to the next venue, you can use the cost of one venue against the other to get them to compete for your business.
These items are considerations as well:
- Ask about accessibility for performers, staff, and audience. The government website detailing the Americans with Disabilities Act is the primary source of information about accessibility (www.ada.gov).
- Check out the parking—bad parking can ruin a show, especially if it has an extended run.
- See the dressing rooms and amenities for the cast—this might be home-away-from-home for a while.
- Find out about the heating and air-conditioning—seriously.
- Ask about selling merchandise.
- Determine the nearby restaurants and bars.
- Ask about nearby hotels and other accommodations and transportation.
- Ask about ticketing and box office requirements.
- Determine the required staff.
- Find out about what security is needed.
- Evaluate the restrooms—ask to use it so you can see for yourself!
- Ask about anything and everything you can think of.
You also need to be prepared to answer questions. The venue will want to know who they are allowing in their space, so know yourself, the company, production, and the intended audience very well. Your venues may not be traditional theatre settings. If you are filming a music video, you could be in the desert or at the beach, a modern choreographer may create a work in a museum, and you may be producing a dance convention in hotel ballrooms or convention centers. Dance is adaptable to locations, and the options are endless; however, all the suggestions apply regardless of location.