Monday, September 19, 2005

Project management in the performing arts

As I head into the rehearsal stretch of a show I'm involved in, I cannot help but think that producing a show is a lot like project management in any other realm. I have a ton of lists: to do's, contact names, calendars, etc. I try to keep most of it together on my (Mac) laptop using NoteTaker, but that only gives me access to what's going on, and isn't really designed for that.

Joe over at BiS (caveat about reading archived BiS entries in Mozilla) came across geek darling-product BaseCamp, and immediately got it's usefulness for the production process. As I point out in my comments there, I think BaseCamp's list of suggested uses for theatres face a tough hurdle of replacing the human-connection so key in producing performing arts work. But there is a golden nugget here for performing arts organization - not necessarily only with BaseCamp, but with any "distributed project management" applications. Read Marnie's thoughts, and then think about the project managment needs of small-to-no budget groups that perhaps don't have an office. (Not necessarily endorsing BaseCamp per se - see some of the feedback to Marnie's post).

Others are far ahead of us on this thinking - Circle X, 10-year-old, Los Angeles-based theatre group I met at the NETFest, was actually using as their communications and work development portal.

(And if my saying "project management needs" in the context of producing a performing arts show sounds a little too corporate, replace that with "production needs"'....)


Anonymous KC said...

I'm a core member of the dotProject development group and have been a theatre geek for almost 10 years now. When I was serving as Technical Director or Stage Manager for things, I found that people don't necessarily like all the normal baggage that goes with a standard PM process... mainly Gantt charts.

Most - that I've interacted with - love simple checklists with due dates, so that's what I've always worked with.

A few years back, I was volunteering at a local high school to get my theatre fix and completely revamped all their checklists and instead of putting dates, I abstracted it a bit and specified everything as "N weeks from opening". It seemed to get the same point across and simplified things a bit... because then the TD could look at a calendar and fill in a single date for each checklist page.

Just some thoughts.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Greg Beuthin said...

Oh lord yes, I'm all about avoiding Gantt charts.

I like your "Opening Minus N" system. Do you know of an app that can do that: Allow you to add tasks with a certain *relative* deadline, and plug in the due date, and voila?

And of course, be accessible to people online. :-)

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if you guys are still looking around at project management tools, but I suggest checking out Projectspaces. It has a fairly intuitive interface that allows users to quicky adopt it. It also has a number of simple to use tools such as a document library, project calendar, task tracker, and email list creator. I have used it over the past nine months and it has been extremely helpful at getting large groups to collaborate on a single project

3:30 PM  

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