January 11-13, 2018
43rd Annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival
The Power of Transformation
at Illinois State University
Auditions for Western Illinois University's BFA Musical Theatre Program.
Auditions are scheduled for 2017-18 on-campus auditions dates are:
Sat., Nov. 11, 2017
Sat., Feb. 24, 2018
Sat., Mar. 24, 2018
To set up an appointment for an audition on one of our dates, please call
(309) 298-1543 or email Lysa Fox at
to visit the ITA's Job Postings & Audition Announcements for more details.
The Paramount Theatre
10/18/17 - 10/22/17
Million Dollar Quartet
Wed. at 1:30 pm and 7 pm
Thurs. at 7 pm, Fri. at 8 pm
Sat. at 3 pm and 8 pm
Sun. at 1 pm and 5:30 pm
Region 2: Aurora
Cary-Grove HS Drama
Eurydice by Sara Ruhl
10/19/17 - 10/21/17
Thurs. at 7 pm;
Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 pm
Region 2: Cary
Theatre of Western Springs
10/19/17 - 10/29/17
Region 2: Western Springs
Vermillion Players, Inc.
Southern Fried Murder
10/20/17 - 10/29/17
Fri. and Sat. at 6 pm
Sun. at 12:30
Region 5: Pontiac
Spooky Stories of the Season
10/20/17 - 10/21/17
Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 pm
Region 2: Elmhurst
Indian Valley Theatre
Love, Lies & the Dr. Dilemma
10/20/17 - 10/22/17
Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 pm
Sun. at 2 pm
Region 2: Sandwich
DLO Musical Theatre
The Little Mermaid
10/20/17 - 10/22/17
Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 pm
Sun. at 2 pm
Region 5: Danville
Want your performance to be featured here?
The ITA is a network of dedicated theatre artists and educators
advocating quality theatre throughout Illinois. Please join us!
123 Mill Pond Dr.
Glendale Heights, IL 60139
The Illinois Theatre
Association is partially
supported by a grant from
the Illinois Arts Council,
a state agency.
ELMHURST COLLEGE THEATRE
By John Curran, ITA College/University Rep
With Rick Arnold recently joining the ITA Board, I thought it might be a good time to showcase the Theatre Program at Elmhurst College. As many may know, I've been trying to use my articles to showcase university and college programs all over the state. If you are interested in your program being featured, please just contact me. I'd love to chat with you.
From wacky improvisation to serious drama, Elmhurst College theatre has engaged audiences with thought-provoking productions since the 1920's.
Each year, Elmhurst theatre faculty and students collaborate on a full season of musicals, plays, student-directing projects, and children's theatre. Mill performances ask probing questions, offer new ways to see the world, and showcase a variety of genres and playwrights.
All productions take place in the College's intimate Mill Theatre, a converted sawmill that has housed Elmhurst's theatre program since 1969. At the Mill, Elmhurst theatre, musical theatre, and theatre education majors work alongside Biology majors, English majors, and more. All student performers and technicians tackle a variety of acting, technical, and leadership challenges.
Elmhurst College offers Bachelor Degrees in Theatre, Musical Theatre Performance and Theatre Education. Concentrations in the Theatre Degree include Acting, Directing, Design & Technology, Stage Management, and Arts Administration.
If you would like to know more about the great work at Elmhurst College or see one of their many wonderful productions, I encourage you to visit their website,
WHY IS THEATRE EDUCATION IMPORTANT?
By Beth Barber
I know that as theatre educators we all feel that what we do is important in society today. I'm sure we would all agree that theatre education is important. Period. I don't think, for most of us, we are trying to produce the next star of
Game of Thrones. Sure, if this happens we are happy for that student who makes it, but that is not why we went into education. Teaching theatre is about so much more. It is about that student who is shy yet opens up in your classroom. It is watching a student grow from freshman to senior year. It is watching the chaotic, creative process of groups working together. I have been teaching for over thirty years, and still love it, because it continues to be challenging, fresh, new, and wonderful every day.
What do I remember most about my own high school experience? The arts, of course. I was involved in theatre and music at Evanston Township High School. These are the aspects of my education that I will never forget. The reason that students remember theatre education is because it teaches so much about life in general. So, as I think about why it is so vital to teach theatre in the high school and to support arts education, here are some of my top reasons why theatre education is so important.
Theatre teaches acceptance.
Theatre teaches us how to look at critical issues in our world and to accept others for who they are. It teaches empathy and a deeper understanding of diversity.
Theatre teaches how to work with others. Drama is about teamwork. We work as a unit towards a common goal. We often become a very functional family. Through those long hours of rehearsal together long lasting friendships are created.
Theatre builds self-esteem and self-confidence. So many students lack confidence. Theatre helps students to gain confidence by helping them to find their voice. Watching students gain confidence is truly inspiring.
Theatre provides a safe place for expression.
Society's pressures have encouraged us to keep our emotions to ourselves. By creating a character and expressing the character's emotions - happiness, sadness, fear, pride, curiosity, anger, joy, jealousy, etc. - these feelings become accepted. One's acceptance of all one's emotions, strengths and weaknesses is vital to our growth, no matter the age.
Theatre teaches listening and communication skills. Theatre teaches us how to express ourselves more effectively. It helps to develop the ability to communicate our thoughts and feelings to others, improving relationships.
Theatre encourages creativity.
Theatre helps us to develop our creativity
. In drama there is no right or wrong, creative play is encouraged. As
our education system increasingly puts an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math, we cannot forget the importance of creative art.
Theatre teaches you how to think on your feet. Being able to think and react quickly is a skill that can be learned. Theatre class teaches students to be spontaneous, quick, and creative all on the spur of the moment.
Theatre is fun! Students complain that high school is difficult, boring, and stressful. Drama class is a break from what can be all of these aspects of a student's day. In drama students learn and have fun.
Of course, there are many more reasons why theatre education is so important in our world today. We must never stop believing what we do is valuable. The students in our classrooms are there because they have chosen to be there. We are so lucky to teach theatre at the high school level. We must never stop supporting arts education. Theatre education is and always will be important!
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EVANSTON'S LIBRARY THIRD ANNUAL STORYTELLING FESTIVAL
By Susan Antman, ITA Creative Drama Rep
Donna Stone, ITA's 2017 Excellence in Creative Drama Award Recipient, connected me to Stone Stone, the co-founder of the
Evanston Library Storytelling Festival
. I learned so much and met a lot of great people at this wonderful volunteer opportunity. Here's an article about the Festival! Check it out!
Come one, come all!
Take a seat, and listen to the wonderful stories shared by all kinds of storytellers - professional tellers, students, and local folks, sharing traditional tales, personal stories, LGBTQ stories, and poetry.....
Once again, this past weekend, October 6- 8, The Evanston Library hosted an extraordinary event sponsored by the Friends of Evanston Library and many other local sponsors. This allowed the Festival to be free of charge for everyone to come and enjoy the five professional tellers: Mama Edie McLoud Armstrong, Jessica Carleton, Dan Keding, Jay O"Callahan, and La'Ron Williams, as well as the many local tellers, in multiple venues in downtown Evanston. The event has grown every year, and this year hosted close to 2,000 enthusiasts.
As Library Director Karen Danczak-Lyons wrote in the Festival's program:
"Sharing stories like this brings us together as a community, celebrating what we have in common as well as our differences. Listening to stories takes us to places we've never been, inspires us with new ideas, moves our hearts, and acquaints us with people from beyond our own circles. We appreciate people in new and deeper ways once we've heard their stories."
But the Festival never would have happened but for the passion and dedication of Susan Stone, former ITA member, drama teacher, and nationally recognized storyteller. And Karen Danzcek-Llyon, the Library's viaionary director. Susan and Karen came up with plan for holding the festival after the long running Spring Grove, Illinois Storytelling Festival came to an end. Susan says, "There are so many Illinois storytellers and so much interest. This was a way to bring our storytelling community together again.
I was only able to attend some of the storytelling sessions this year, and was delighted and inspired by every single one. Additionally, on Sunday morning , I took advantage of the insightful workshop led by storyteller, La'Ron Williams. In addition to introducing us to methods of creative thinking, La'Ron shared ideas and resources that I immediately put to use in my practice as a teacher.
Similarly, just watching others tell their highly crafted and emotional stories resonated with my teaching and life practice. It's easy to forget, in our entertainment- saturated culture, the power of traditional telling, and the profound benefits from listening together with others.
Storytelling reminds us of the significance of the oral tradition. As Susan Stone comments, "The Storytellers we selected not only entertain, but often bring stories that have inherently wonderful messages - Honoring the Earth, each other, kindness, etc."
We audience members have so many choices that it's easy to focus on the big Broadway shows, the established companies that anchor Chicago theatre, and the storefronts and smaller venues that show new and sometimes experimental work. But, as theatre becomes increasingly glossy and spectacular, the draw of a single storyteller (perhaps with an instrument or two) seems dull in comparison. Until you go, u
ntil you're in that room or that tent with the 40-50 others being taken on a journey through your own imagination, led only by a voice and a song.
Storytelling is an experience that deserves to be revered and championed by our entire theatre community. The ideas and skillfulness of the tellers are the heart of all of our theatre work as artists and teachers. So, put the Evanston Library Storytelling Festival on your calendar for the first weekend in October 2018.
The 4th Annual Evanston Library Storytelling Festival - A DO-NOT-MISS event. For more information,
Plan to come next year.
I'll see you there!
7 KEY PHRASES MONTESSORI TEACHERS USE AND WHY WE SHOULD USE THEM TOO
Submitted by Cassandra Quinn, TYA Rep
"One of beautiful things about Montessori is that it is so much more than a type of education-it is a way of seeing and being with children."
As a teaching artist with
Compass Creative Dramatics,
whose teaching practices align significantly with Montessori teaching style,
resonated with me as it outlines ways that we can adopt language of Montessori educators to foster growth and self-discovery which can easily channeled through the art of theatre!
Montessori can be hard to sum up in just a few words-it is a philosophy on education and child development that runs deep. It's a way of seeing the world. I think one of the easiest ways to get an idea for what Montessori means is to listen to the language that Montessori teachers use.
Montessori teachers use language that respects the child and provides consistent expectations. Words are chosen carefully to encourage children to be independent, intrinsically motivated critical thinkers.
Here are seven common phrases you'd probably hear in any Montessori classroom, and how to incorporate them into your home life.
1. "I saw you working hard."
The focus on process over product is a key tenet of Montessori. We avoid telling the children "good work" or "your work is beautiful" and instead comment on how they concentrated for a long time, or how they wrote so carefully and their work could be easily read by anyone.
Praising your child's hard work, rather than his results, helps instill a growth mindset where he believes he can improve through his own efforts.
Instead of telling your child, "You're a good boy," tell him "I noticed you being kind to your little brother yesterday when you shared your truck." This shows him you see his good behavior, without placing judgments on him. Instead of telling him, "You're such a good artist," try, "I noticed you kept working on your picture until you got it just how you wanted it."
2. "What do you think about your work?"
In Montessori, the child is his own teacher. The teachers are there as guides to give him lessons and help him but he discovers things for himself through the carefully prepared environment and materials. Self-analysis is a big part of that discovery.
When your child asks you, "Do you like my picture?" try asking her about it instead of just saying you love it. Ask her what she thinks about it, how she decided what colors to use, and what her favorite part is. Help her start to evaluate her work for herself, rather than looking for your approval.
3. "Where could you look for that?"
Independence is another key value in any Montessori classroom or home. Our goal as teachers is to help the children do things for themselves. So while it's sometimes easier to simply answer a child's question about where something is or how to do something, we often answer questions with another question such as, "Where could you look for that?" or "Which friend could you ask for help?"
If your son loses his shoe and you see it peeking out from under the bed, try asking leading questions, rather than just handing it to him.
"Where were you when you took your shoes off? Have you checked your room?"
This may take a little more time, but it will be worth it when he starts taking more initiative and coming to you less.
4. "Which part would you like my help with?"
In a Montessori classroom, children are responsible for many things, including taking care of their environment. Children often take great pride in this responsibility, spending time arranging flowers to put on tables, watering the garden, and happily washing the windows and tables.
Sometimes though, a job is just too big and overwhelming. In these cases, we ask the child how we can help. We don't want to swoop in and "save the day," sending the message that the child is not capable, but we also don't want to leave the child overwhelmed.
For example: If your child is tired, but needs to put her Legos away before bed, all of those pieces can be overwhelming. It doesn't have to be all or nothing though. Try "which color would you like me to put away" or "I'll put away the yellow pieces and you put away the blue" to show that you're in it together.
5. "In our class, we ...." (Or at home- "In our home, we...")
This little phrase is used to remind the children of any number of classroom rules and desired behaviors. Phrasing reminders as objective statements about how the community works, rather than barking commands, is much more likely to elicit cooperation from a child.
"In our class, we sit while we eat" i
s less likely to incite a power struggle than "Sit down."
Like all of us, children want to be a part of the community, and we simply remind them of how the community works. If you have a rule about walking in the house, instead of "stop running," try saying "we walk inside our house" and see if you get fewer arguments.
6. "Don't disturb him, he's concentrating."
Protecting children's concentration is a fundamental part of the Montessori philosophy. Montessori classes give children big blocks of uninterrupted work time, usually three hours. This allows children to develop deep concentration, without being disturbed because the schedule says it's time to move on to learning something else.
It can be tempting to compliment a child who is working beautifully, but sometimes even making eye contact is enough to break their concentration.
Next time you walk by your child while he's focused on drawing a picture or building a tower, try just walking by instead of telling him how great it is. You can make a mental note and tell him later that you noticed him concentrating so hard on his creation.
7. "Follow the Child."
This last one is an important one. It's something Montessori teachers say to each other and to parents-not to the child. We often remind each other to "follow the child," to trust that each child is on his or her own internal developmental timeline, that he is doing something for a reason.
This reminds us to search for the reason behind the behavior. It reminds us that not all children will be walking by one or reading by four-they haven't read the books and couldn't care less about the milestones they are "supposed to" reach.
Following the child means remembering that each child is unique and has his own individual needs, passions, and gifts, and he should be taught and guided accordingly.
If you can't get your child interested in reading, try watching what he does love-if he loves being silly, it may be that a joke book is what piques his interest, not the children's classic you had in mind. Remembering to "follow your child" can help you see him in a different way and work with him instead of against him.
One of beautiful things about Montessori is that it is so much more than a type of education-it is a way of seeing and being with children. Even if your child does not go to Montessori school, you can easily bring the ideas into your home and watch your child's independence and concentration grow.
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THEATRE TICKETS FOR BARGAIN HUNTERS
By Joan McGrath, Professional Theatre Rep
You're undoubtedly reading the ITA's eFollowspot newsletter because you love theatre. You've succumbed to the magic of live performance. You readily agree "the play's the thing!" Your heart beats a little faster and your eyes open wider in response to the undefinable energy of being on stage.
Now your education begins. And what better way to learn about theatre than to attend theatre? Lots of it!
(This is an aside: I'm fascinated when aspiring performers, especially young people, don't regularly go to theatre. One of the finest ways to appreciate your craft, expand your understanding of character development, and acquire tools to enhance your technique is to see every production that's available to you. Even being an audience for a mediocre or substandard performance - truly! - contributes to your education of what works on stage and why.)
You might argue that seeing the best theatre is an expensive education. Ticket prices for professional productions, and increasingly for community theatre, can be steep. Happily, there are a few ways to shave the financial burden.
Theatre companies need many services and frequently compensate those who provide them with
complimentary tickets. Offer to distribute posters, participate on construction crews or to usher for performances. You'll net a ticket and potentially a valuable insider contact.
SUBSCRIBE. Significant savings on ticket prices are provided to season subscribers. Furthermore, many theatres today are offering "Flex Passes," allowing you to choose to see a selected number of shows instead of paying for the entire season and also allowing you to change the dates of your ticket depending on your schedule.
CHOOSE PREVIEWS. Selecting those performances between dress rehearsal and the official opening usually means enjoying a significant discount. An added bonus is seeing a "work in progress" as a show solidifies for its main run.
STUDENT DISCOUNTS. Many theatres seek to encourage young people to attend by extending a substantially reduced rate. Even if a student rate isn't advertised, ask if the theatre will provide one.
STAND BY. Seats in a theatre are like rooms in a hotel: when they're empty, the potential revenue is lost forever. Theatre operators often release unsold seats at the last minute - typically half an hour before performance - at bargain prices. Check the policy in advance for the show you want to see.
HALF PRICED ON-LINE TICKETS. Theatres frequently have an over-supply of unpurchased seats and make them available at huge savings through on-line sites. In the Chicago area, for instance, Goldstar (www.goldstar.com) and Hot Tix (www.hottix.org), are two sources of reduced, usually half-price, tickets. Be aware that there are additional "ticket handling" and "convenience fees" which may be hefty.
These come in many forms. For example, the producers of the smash hit "Hamilton," the hottest ticket in Chicago, put aside a limited number of tickets for an in-person, day-of-show lottery. If you're feeling lucky, find details at
The League of Chicago Theatres, in partnership with Choose Chicago, offers one seasonal promotion that not only saves you money but also might make you stretch the boundaries of your artistic experiences. Now in its sixth year, Chicago Theatre Week features tickets for 120+ productions at major downtown theatres and storefront performance spaces, for either $15 or $30 (sometimes less). The 2018 Chicago Theatre Week dates are February 8 - 18. Advance reservations are highly recommended. Tickets go on sale January 9. (www.chicagoplays.com)
Go see a show. Have a memorable theatrical adventure. Learn! Applaud! Enjoy!
THE DULL BRUTALITIES
THE UNIVERSAL CODE
This article was born of the invitation to write about art and hate, and how the former may in some small way work to challenge the latter. But in truth I'm reticent to make hate the antagonist here, being so oppositional and absolute as it is. Not because it's intimidating in its scope, but rather because it's too easy.
Hate is so clear and definitive an other that nearly all of us can distance ourselves from it. People may display innumerable small biases while proudly proclaiming themselves haters of hate. Indeed, so often its only vocal champions (hiding in pointed hoods or striding in Charlottesville streets) seem so marginalised and unwittingly self-mocking, so needy of acceptance, that one can't help but pity them.
When I think of true harm, though - of actions that palpably tear at the social fabric, that clearly work to build silos of us and them - I think not of the hate-spouting of a weak few, but of the everyday bigotries exhibited by an emboldened many.
Where Words Once Were by Finegan Kruckemeyer / Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences; Alina Collins Maldonado.
Photo by Yassine El Mansouri
And it must be said here that no one country is the authority on this - I understand the notion of glass houses and stones thrown. As a nation, mine condones government-run offshore detention centers for refugees, a span of water rendering these victims truly out of sight and mind. As an individual, I write of liberal notions while living in a largely mono-cultural suburb. And as an Australian citizen, I will this week receive a ballot slip asking whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
The exercise, a $122 million non-binding plebiscite, will have no legal outcome but huge potential to marginalize. Because while I and many millions more are voting yes, in a way it feels as problematic as voting no. Either way, we're commenting on the LGBTQI community's love, when really it has nothing to do with us. It is gratuitous that we have a vote at all.
And if a citizen of my land were to proclaim their hatred of refugees or multiculturalism or gay people, this would be one form of easily discernible vitriol. And that vitriol would be shouted down, because ultimately I believe all people are good - that most do know right and wrong, and those that don't are secretly searching for it.
But if a citizen of my land - or yours - chose to be silent, or chose to quietly vote into being a legislation of inequality, chose to accept differing birthrights for different humans, then a society may slowly (so slowly it itself does not even notice) grow unhealthy. And I think it's these small cumulative injustices, this glacial degradation of empathy, that art does have the power to affect.
I think it's these small cumulative injustices, this glacial degradation of empathy, that art does have the power to affect.
Because in its basest form, a story is an exercise in placing oneself in the shoes of another. We may (for whatever reason) be reticent to do this in real life, but in a theatre or cinema or library chair the commitment is a selfish one, and that's okay. We know our viewing experience will be heightened the more invested we are.
And we know this innately, in a hardwired manner that can cut through personal bias or childish naivete - if the offering's well-constructed enough, the young first-time theatregoer will know what to do. And more importantly, the value-hardened cynic will know what to feel. They may loudly discredit it - which I'd argue is fine, because it's still entered their conversation. Or they may blankly deny it - and that's even better, as the story then becomes something more residual, hiding away in a subconscious.
But if the hardening of a society's ability to care follows one trajectory, then the softening of an individual's ability to not follows an opposite one. Both are about incremental steps, towards or away from what I think every single person actively treasures or secretly yearns for - which is a sense of community.
And some would rationalize that defining the 'other' does achieve this, a knowledge of who we aren't emboldening who we are. Some would argue the opposite (but must be wary to check our privilege, so as not to discover embarrassing hypocrisies while perched on high horses). But this little essay is about art and, given its context, the theatrical kind in particular.
And what theatre does manage to do, is actively engage us in a central premise of community - which is a lot of people, caring about the same thing, at the same time.
Where Words Once Were by Finegan Kruckemeyer / Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences; Chris Lane and Alina Collins Maldonado. Photo by Yassine El Mansouri
Other pursuits do this too of course - such as sport, very successfully. But the distinction in my mind is that standing in a stadium is about a shared investment in people whose talents eclipse our own. The role of an athlete is to be the best at a thing, and what we marvel at is the superhuman. But sitting in a theatre is about a shared investment in ordinary people, being placed in complex situations. So what is marveled at then, is the super humanity.
And (speaking from a biased position as I am) I do believe that this exercise is a worthy one, in contesting not hate (whose displays are so often far more theatrical than this industry's), but rather the dull brutalities of slow, subtle privilege.
Because what artists seek to do is conjure relatable, fallible humans, whose lives bear the hallmarks of our own. And if we make a choice to maintain all the familiarities, but to then alter the skin colour or physiology of a protagonist - if we make them hold the hand of a same-sex love, or locate them in a different place of worship, or have them utter the most colloquial of words in the most foreign of accents - these seemingly pedestrian choices can have tangible impacts.
They can, ever so slowly, work to disempower an argument of otherness. They can provide a perspective, a voyeur's glimpse into a stranger's dining-room, which makes him suddenly seem a bit less strange.
And art may struggle to combat hate - because the task of hating demands so much of its victim that interruption can be tricky. But art can combat ignorance, by showing.
And art may struggle to combat hate - because the task of hating demands so much of its victim that interruption can be tricky. But art can combat ignorance, by showing. And it can combat what is alien, by sharing what is domestic. And I do believe (because why else would one spend a life doing a thing) that art can, in a somewhat magical way, use finite symbols to address infinite audiences.
And this is not because of an artist's skill in coding. It is because of the inclusive, universal understanding of the code.
for the original article or more TYA related information.
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ACCOUNTANCY IN THE ARTS
By Otto Arcaute
Submitted by Don Shandrow,
ITA Community Theatre Rep
The author of the following article, Otto Arcaute, has 45 years of service in the private (for-profit) and public (not-for-profit) sectors in a variety of roles ( Administration management, Sales, Operations, Accounting and Finance Support Services)
within multiple industries. Currently Otto serves in an Accounting and Financial Manager role for the Carver Community Center in Peoria. The Carver Center is a not-for-profit Community Social Service organization with a developing commitment towards the Arts. Otto has a passion for the arts and proper fiscal management that ensures the growth of the arts in the community.
Co-existing Under One Roof
Every organization that I have had the privilege to work for has provided tremendous personal growth opportunities and valuable lessons. The two most notable things for me, not surprisingly, are people related. I enjoy the diversity of experiences an organizations' staff can provide. Accompanying those individual experiences are also differences in motivations, passions and values to name a few. As I see it the more diverse the staff is, the better the chance for long term organizational success. In considering the theme of this article then, I believe the appropriate starting point for the two groups that are represented within the theme should be to identify a sampling of general personality traits for each.
I believe the most respected source of personality type assessments is the Myers-Briggs Foundation. As a result of many years in the industry they have come up with 16 categories that people who have completed a 120 question test fall within. Each category has 4 identifiers. Keep in mind these identifiers and their interpretation are not necessarily absolutes for everyone within the group but rather provide a basic framework of folks that fall within the group.
When researching data for people whose focus is on the Arts here are the results: Introverted, Sensing, Feeling and Perceiving (ISFP). In general people in this category are "Quiet, friendly, sensitive and kind. They enjoy the present moment and what's going on around them. They like to have their own space and to work within their own time frame. They are loyal and committed to their values and to people who are important to them. They dislike disagreement and conflicts and do not force their opinions on others." If this sounds like you it is likely you are on the Arts side of this article.
When researching data for people whose focus is on Accountancy here are the results: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging (ISTJ). In general the people in this category are "Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. They are practical, matter-of-fact, realistic and responsible. They decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. They take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized-their work, their home, their life. They value traditions and loyalty." It's pretty obvious that when these two groups exist within the same organization, differences are bound to surface. Is that a bad thing? I think not because it's part of the diversity that is an essential element of every organization. How then can we make these two distinct groups each make a real and positive impact for the organization in spite of their differences?
My experience has shown me that in this type of situation both groups must focus (to start) on at least 1 common organizational objective. My personal favorite is Long-term Sustainability. I think it's safe to say that all staff members should share this goal. Those that don't may be better off elsewhere. Step two for me is determining what variable that drives Long-term Sustainability is the most difficult to establish in an organization. I am sure this likely depends on who you ask. For me it happens to be the creation and embedding of Structure throughout the enterprise. That can done via procedure, policy, process, individual expectations, accountability and responsibilities to name a few. I find the need for this effort is most likely to be needed in two primary organization types 1.) Organizations in either the private or public sectors with relatively low revenues and small staffs and 2.) Organizations whose revenues are generated through Federal, State, Grants or Independent Fundraising sources. These organizations are usually in the public sector providing services and not products.
As was noted previously on the personality characteristics of the two groups that are the focus of this article, the implementation of Structure in an Arts focused enterprise can create controversy when the Accountancy side promotes the need for the change(s) as a logical thing to do, because it will make things orderly and organized. The Arts side may see these changes as potentially restrictive of their creative freedom which they are very committed to and may shut down on expressing their opinions instead of establishing dialogue as a result of their dislike for disagreement and conflict.
There's one more thing to take into account before getting into resolution on the avoidance of potential gridlock in the above scenario. Accountancy is highly influenced by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). These are a common set of accounting principles, standards and procedures that organizations must follow when they compile their financial statements. The purpose of GAAP is to ensure financial reporting is transparent and consistent between one organization to another. Since most organizations are subject to annual audits, compliance to GAAP is one of the items a CPA conducting the audit must provide commentary on in the final audit report. Failure for an organization to comply with GAAP will be problematic to those providing revenues or operating capital to the organization. Funding received from Federal, State or Grant providers will request annual audit reports as will lending institutions. It is critical then for the Long-term Sustainability of the organization that compliance to GAAP is met.
Now that we have established a pretty complete set of variables, it is time to address strategies that can deal with potential conflicts that arise from an effort to implement structure (of any type) in an Arts focused organization. Here's what I find to be successful when faced with this type of situation:
1) The creative side of the organization needs to reach a comfort level with defending their creative ideas even when they feel the proposed structure will adversely impact their passion. The environment MUST encourage dialogue between the parties even if it needs to be moderated by organizational leadership. Avoiding disagreement or conflicts completely stifles the creative process which is at the core of people that fall into the ISFP category. Avoiding dialogue also adversely impacts the goal of Long-term Sustainability to the organization.
2) Accountancy side MUST listen to the concerns of the Arts side and MUST explain either a) The restrictions driven by GAAP that allows only one solution or b) Where multiple GAAP supported options exist, Accountancy needs to present all the options with the positives and negatives of each so a COLLABORATIVE decision can be mutually agreed to as to which option not only best meets the need but best contributes to the Long-term Sustainability of the enterprise.
I can tell you with certainty that this approach works because I have used it countless times in my career. While it may not take hold immediately, practice makes perfect and you'd be amazed what committing to this effort will do for your organization. If reading this article only opens your minds to possibilities, I will consider this a successful effort. Any more than that would be icing on the cake.Thank you for your time and your endurance! All the best.
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