In many amateur theatre groups you have a range of skills at your disposal from different members. Traditionally groups are managed by a central committee (and additional sub committees if the group is a large one) so in this article, I will look at what makes a successful organising committee and how you can maintain this as members come and go.
1. Work out what skills you need for your amateur theatre group
The best way to look at putting together a committee is as if you were starting from the bottom up. A good question to ask yourself is ‘what roles or skills do we need to cover all bases?’ This might mean administrational skills, marketing, organising, designing, painting, social media, good social skills and a whole host of other things. When you have decided this, that’s when you can start putting into place your roles and responsibilities. Once you have a list of the roles that you need to fill, then you can start building your team around those needs. One way of looking for roles that you might need is by looking at programmes or websites of other amateur theatre group productions to get ideas. Common ‘officer’ posts are ‘Chairperson’, ‘Treasurer’, ‘Vice Chair’, ‘Members Secretary’, ‘Social Secretary’, ‘Youth Secretary’, ‘Marketing Officer’ and junior committee members. There are then others on the committee who are just there representing opinions an then those who have smaller roles and responsibilities like ‘child protection’ or other similar skills.
2. Be clear and open as an amateur theatre committee
This is an important point and can be the sticking point of a successful committee. You need the members of your theatre group to get behind you and support your choices and decisions so ensuring you’re truly transparent and trustworthy is really key. For me, this means having an open and fair vote on a yearly basis so that those on the committee are democratically elected, a call out before every committee meeting asking for any issues that have arisen that might need to be discussed and the opportunity to regularly question committee members and see meeting minutes. If you aren’t doing these things then you risk losing your memberships’ trust.
3. Everyone understands why they’re there
One of the most important things is that every member of the committee understands that the reason they are on the committee is to make decisions in the best interests of the group and its members. This means putting personal preferences and friendship ties apart and making decisions that ensure the stability of the organisation as a whole. This doesn’t mean that members of the committee can’t disagree- quite the opposite in fact, discussion is good and without it the right decisions are rarely made.
4. Draw up a constitution for your amateur theatre group
A clear set of rules about how the group will be run is useful for members and committee officers alike as it gives clear guidance for questions that might arise more than one over the years. Things like ‘what is our child protection procedure?’, ‘what is our policy on legitimate expenses?’ and ‘what is our policy about promotional pictures’. Here’s a good example that you can use as a template for your own constitution.
5. It’s all about the production
Ultimately the group has been bought together to put on a show and therefore preserve the group’s core aims. It’s really important that committee officers and members remember that decisions should be made with the good of the show in mind. This includes casting, set design, microphones and other matters. Remember, without good quality shows that the public keep returning to watch, there won’t be a social group to attend!
Putting it together
If you can stand by these principals as a committee you’ll find that thing begin to run very smoothly and you can concentrate on some of the more desirable things that you’ve wanted to act on for a while but have never had the chance.