Some Personal History with Process and Product

As a teenager, once or twice I prepared mailings for a publication that my mother was managing. She taught me that I could accomplish a lot in a small amount of time if I approached it systematically. I also understood that I would earn less if I got it done quickly, but that didn’t seem to matter as much.

Working as a line cook, circa 1989, I learned how to complete high-volume work during a finite time span. There’s nothing quite like cooking and plating 100+ individual dinner orders in a few hours, by yourself, nightly. At the same time, I was continuing to learn the arts admin trade, which had a very different nature.

As a musician working with dancers and choreographers, I spent many hours collaborating in art making. Often impossibly complex and a very different equation than line cooking or administrative work, yet, deeply informative in describing the world constructed around us. In the early 90s, as Co-Director of Movement Research, everything was about process. And, a few years later, accepting my first job as a Finance Director, I began to understand certain things about systems, structures, personalities, and relationships. Also, around this time I first read about the possibilities of something called cloud computing.

In 2009, I joined A.R.T./New York as Finance Director and was fortunate to find open-minded people interested in exploring new ideas. In 2011, I participated in a meeting with Ginny Louloudes and others about her Theatres for the 21st Century project, which was working to identify and explore potential new operating and production models. I spoke briefly, saying that many existing challenges are systemic and that piecemeal efforts might be less effective than establishing a new framework to encourage large scale change.

Eventually, I stuck my neck out again and suggested to Ginny that I work on some ideas about a collective administrative solution. She encouraged me to flesh out the ideas and soon after I discussed them with a former colleague, David Sheingold, who encouraged me to take a shared approach and invite a partner to work with me. Sarah Maxfield, another colleague who had previously worked with me and David, agreed to take on the challenge. In Fall 2011, Sarah and I finished Collective Insourcing: A Systemic Approach to Nonprofit Arts Management—a concept paper, which became the first step in developing ArtsPool.

In the summer of 2012, we were joined by David and, with the prescient support of Eddie Torres and the Rockefeller Foundation, we began working with the data and people from twelve organizations to construct a model of how we think ArtsPool will work. We completed a business plan in Summer 2013 and soon after were joined by Max Dana, who already had been working with me on the development of A.R.T./New York’s systems.

We look forward to updating you further as ArtsPool is built.