We are pleased to announce that Chad Bauman, the Smithsonian Associate’s Director of Marketing and Membership, will be the latest addition to our writing staff . Readers will know him best as Arena Stage’s Director of Communication during its period of greatest expansion. His column “Consider This” will begin on Wednesday, April 17th.
Chad Bauman adds a new dimension to DC Theatre Scene. As a marketer, he knows what it takes to make the business side of theatre work. His blog, Arts Marketing, has been an important discussion site for marketers around the country. His new column will examine Washington area theatre from a marketer’s perspective. In the near future, he intends to look at how cuts in Federal funding affect program choices at local theaters, local plans for succession in theater leadership positions, and the role of social media.
At 33, Chad is a busy, successful professional whose life encompasses his love of theatre, teaching, and marketing. Surely one of the most interesting people in town, we thought we’d take a few minutes to introduce him to you.
Tell us about yourself.
I live in Alexandria, VA with my partner and an 11 year old border collie/greyhound mix named Oreo. After almost five years serving as the Director of Communications at Arena Stage, I left the organization to lead marketing and membership activities for the Smithsonian Associates, the outreach and membership arm of the Smithsonian Institution. I serve on the graduate faculty of the California Institute of the Arts and Drexel University, and will join American University this summer to launch a certificate program in Technology in Arts Management.
I grew up in Missouri, and am a proud Midwesterner. I went to college at Missouri State University where I graduated with a degree in speech and theatre education with a minor in mathematics. After college, I left Missouri to pursue a M.F.A. in producing at CalArts in Los Angeles (after a short detour to London). While at CalArts, I was a stage manager on an all-female, site specific production of King Lear that performed in an old brewery in downtown LA, and then transferred to an abandoned military base in Dijon, France as part of the Frictions Festival. With about 30 cast members and nearly 100 crew, it will probably go down as the craziest project in my career.
Some tidbits about me:
- In 2002, I requested emeritus status as a national soccer referee candidate making me one of the youngest retired pro-level referees in the nation at the age of 23.
- As a producer, I have had a fire, an earthquake and a torrential flood caused by a massive leak interrupt three separate opening nights.
- I am terrified of acting. And heights. And drowning. But I have acted on a professional contract, jumped out of a perfectly good plane, and this summer plan to learn to sail.
- Favorite artists: Peter Sellars, Richard Foreman, Anne Bogart, the Wooster Group, the Builders Association, Ming Cho Lee, Meredith Monk, Tom Kitt, Todd Rosenthal, Eugene Lee, Christopher Akerlind, Chen Shi-Zheng
Which came first – your interest in marketing or theatre?
Definitely an interest in the theater, although that came a little late to me as well. I thought I would go into a field that involved science or math, however we had a requirement in high school that we had to take one semester of fine arts. Knowing that I couldn’t draw, sing or play an instrument, I thought that drama would be the easiest way to satisfy the requirement. Lacking any performance talent, the teacher decided that I could pass the class if I were to serve as an assistant stage manager for the fall play. I instantly fell in the love with it, and ended up stage managing seven productions in high school. I remained active as a stage manager after high school in both college and summer stock productions.
My first job out of graduate school was as a Director of Marketing for a LORT C theater in Norfolk, VA, so I left Los Angeles, and headed east. I knew very little about marketing, but I knew that once I arrived, the folks at Virginia Stage Company would expect me to write a marketing plan. So as my dog and I made our way across country, I read “Marketing for Dummies.”
Give us your impression of theatre in Washington.
Washington is one of the few places in the nation where theater practioners can make an entire career and never leave. That is rare. That is also not to say that we aren’t without our own challenges. Washington has a branding problem when it comes to theater. Some of the best work in the nation happens on our stages, but when people think of our city, they think of government. Or museums. Or monuments. Why are we not thought of in the same vein as Chicago? Minneapolis? It isn’t the quality of the art; it is in the positioning of the city.
What prompted the idea of writing “Consider This” and why for DC Theatre Scene?
To be honest, I would like to cover stories that most journalists don’t have space for, and to do so from the perspective of a practitioner. I think DC Theatre Scene has a unique position to do this. Over the years, I have been impressed with the “off the beaten path” coverage that DC Theatre Scene has provided, from in-depth personal narratives like Michael Kahn’s blog on Strange Interlude to interviews with local notables.
What can readers look forward to?
I was thinking my first few columns would be focused on what it takes to establish Washington as a world-class theater city. Topics may include:
The Funding Conundrum (with significant cuts to the National Capital Arts Program and the DC Arts and Humanities Commission, how does that affect a rapidly growing theater community, including programming choices)
Developing Local Talent (with a look at succession planning, who are the leaders of tomorrow, how are we cultivating them, the local artist pool, do we have a “DC” aesthetic?).
Championing DC Theater (a look at who can champions us – the media, city council, theaterWashington, Destination DC, etc)
Other topics of interest include the influence of technology and the role of social media in our theaters, the supply and demand for theater in DC, and the relationship between commercial producers and non-profit theaters (as well as the pipeline from DC to Broadway).
I would love to create an atmosphere for respectful public debate in the Comments section. As is my nature, I have strong opinions. I anticipate that readers will have equally strong opinions as well. I hope that this blog will become a communal gathering place to challenge ideas, reexamine the status quo and reposition our community for continuing success.
“Consider This” will appear on Wednesdays, twice monthly, beginning April 17th.