August 2014 Community Gathering Notes – Designers

In August we met with designers of all stripes. We had set, lighting, sound and costume designers present, as well as a local producer/director who helped give insight into the other end of the business-the hiring process etc. We had designers fresh out of college as well as seasoned veterans. It was fascinating and informative. Please comment, expand and pose questions to continue the discussion.

Question 1- What does the ideal community look like?

                -consistency of stipends /payment (within a company)-transparency about this

-diversity of theater sizes-wider spectrum=more opportunities

-organized, intentional resource sharing -props/set/costumes/equipment

-a community shop- rentable space for building, tools to borrow,  materials to buy

                -more mentoring opportunities at all levels

-available lists of mentors and assistants

-sound & props added to existing design programs

-expectations made clear by each Org upon hiring- contracts/ meetings

-clear definitions of titles (assistant, associate, lead etc)

-monthly or bi-monthly designer happy hour


Question 2- What resources exist?

  -PNTA                                                   -IATSE

-Hollywood Lights                            -Freehold

-Schools- all                                        -Seattle Scenic

-Shunpike                                           -Home Depot

-4Culture                                             -Display & Costume

-personal- community network -Orgs with small pull fees, willing to lend

-solo/ St. Johns                                -Facebook

-WA State Training/Test class?   -ambition, talent & passion


Question 3- What are the obstacles to the ideal community?

-disconnect between audience & theatre practitioners-inaccessible

-lack of awareness of design process

-money- orgs unable to truly compensate

-community college programs closing

-how to break in, or change levels-insular resume/opportunities-circular, not upward

-not encouraged to track hours—true value of time

-no consistent way to communicate this to Orgs

-difficult to find mentors

-freelance business practice understanding (pay scale)

-training programs largely theoretical rather than practical

-little access to varying cultures (as displayed on stage)

-requirements vary greatly from Org to Org, not just show to show

-lack of transparency about pay

-feeling excluded from rehearsals-cast& crew separate from designers


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