In addition to an education in theater, production managers need to have a working knowledge of financial basics and management practices. Generally, courses in production management are available for theater management majors. A few colleges offer joint programs that lead to both a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), but there are several program options that can prepare students for careers in production management. Many theater management programs require field-work and include opportunities for students to work in local theaters as assistant managers.
Here are a few common concepts taught in production manager courses:
- Historical perspectives
- Analyzing other plays/productions
- Organizational skills
- Voice and speech
- Hiring and unions
- Financial planning
Introduction to Theater
This course introduces students to the various forms of theater and examines the cultural and social influences of the arts on a community. Students receive their first experiences in theater critiquing by analyzing written plays and writing out responses to plays and performances.
Often students are assigned positions as assistant stage managers for a college or local play, through which they acquire hands-on training and learn how to work with assistants, actors and directors. Experience with prompting actors, script analysis, scheduling and other pre-production roles prepare students for a future in theater management.
In this course, students learn how to publicize a play while filling the house. Topics include advertising, group and box sales, public relations and theater management. This course is usually offered at anytime in the program.
Managers and those in leadership positions must have a working knowledge of laws and policies. In this course, students receive coaching in selection and placement, problem solving, training, employee relationships, safety and compensation. They also become familiar with the employee laws for their state and train in the use of proper disciplinary actions and termination policies.
Through simulations, students in a management course learn how to prepare for motivational and disciplinary actions in the workplace, as well as how to make on-the-spot decisions and strengthen their communication skills. They also become familiar with the behavioral tools and techniques that are used to make decisions and plan ahead. Additional topics include management roles in the theater, such as those associated with organizing, planning and motivating.
A theater-based course in accounting teaches students how to use payroll, create master budgets and deal with ethical issues. At the introductory level, students learn how to gather and record data, check inventories and prepare financial statements. They also become familiar with basic accounting concepts, such as depreciation and cost-volume-profit. Due to its introductory nature, this course can be taken anytime during a program.
This course is intended to familiarize students with the theater's financial makeup and should be taken near the middle to end of a program. Students receive practice in booking agreements and financial planning in a theater setting. They also become familiar with payroll practices, expenses and box office income.