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Additional Training to Take When You Have Power in the Arts

There are an abundance of resources, and no shortage of advice, when it comes to continued training for actors. But what if those hiring are the actors? We’ve talked a little about dynamics one should be aware of when in positions of authority, but when it comes to putting theory to practice, additional training can be an extraordinary help. If you’re stepping into the role of director, producer, stage manager, or really anyone who might hold power in the rehearsal room at any given time, here are some areas to consider finding classes and courses to support.

1. Artist mental health practitioner. Trauma informed training in the arts is a relatively recent movement in the industry. But it can be invaluable, especially to those who might be managing scenes of heightened emotion or triggering concepts. It can also provide tools for constructive conflict resolution. In an industry that has long harbored questionable HR practices, the more professionals we can arm with knowledge the better. Research and vet your sources of training, of course, but taking mental health first aid classes that apply to your position is a huge leg up.

2. Conflict Resolution. Ancillary to mental health and trauma informed training are specific applications of those skills in conflict resolution. To maintain distance and objectivity, I would highly suggest bringing in a professional if you and your organization are able, but at the very least having a working vocabulary and conflict resolution pathway can help protect you and your working team. Workshops and classes on this subject can be a great launchpad for defining your own scope of practice.

3. Intimacy in the arts. You don’t have to be directing graphic sex scenes or coordinating onset to find intimacy training an incredible asset. Intimacy training provides standard neutral vocabulary that can be used to keep any moment of physical touch safe, clearly communicated and professional.

4. Combat. Even if nothing in the script requires stage or film combat, rudimentary training in this area can greatly aid awareness of movement and provide the tools for safe and effective physical storytelling.

5. Bookkeeping and Business. This one is for all the self starters out there who are putting up GoFundMes for their indie films, starting 501(c)3 theatres, or stepping into any role that requires decisions on the business side of the industry. Many (if not most) artists have not had formal training in bookkeeping, running a business, or even effectively marketing a project. Any masterclasses, workshops or courses you can gather to help you manage your work in these regards can go a long way towards not only bolstering financial success and audience reach, but also safeguarding you and your team from any legal or tax pitfalls.

6. Social Media and Marketing. There is so much overlap between self promotion and professional marketing these days. Anything that can help you stay fluent in social media platforms, trends, or marketing anything for maximum visibility and reach is worth having a working knowledge of.

Taking on additional responsibilities requires a more well rounded approach to the arts. This is especially true in an industry where limited budget and lack of standardization often necessitates the wearing of many hats. The more knowledge and skills you can arm yourselves with the better able you will be to provide an inclusive, informed, safe and professional environment for your project and people.

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