Who To Know: Another Pro Tip
Guys, here's another important pro tip for your consideration on managing the singing business: get to know your Boards. Sometimes singers only think about meeting and greeting other artists associated with a performing organization - like singers, conductors, and artistic directors - but they don't make a point of doing that with any of the organization's board members, and in fact often don't have any idea who the board members are at all. Why are boards important, you say? Ah, I'm glad you asked. There are two types of boards associated with any performing organization:
1) Funding Board. A Funding Board pays your salary. Like, literally. They write the checks to the organization so the company can write checks to you. A Funding Board is responsible for a company's ability to pay you, The Talent, and they are HUGELY important. They're making the company happen on a financial level. BUT! As I said before, artists sometimes have no earthly clue who they are, unless they host parties or something, and then they're just that rich person with the nice house. But a Funding Board member is waaaay more than a party host or checkbook. They support the organization because they genuinely love the art and want to help create it. They're often the biggest allies a performing organization has in the community.
2) Working Board. A Working Board or Management Team makes your gigs happen. Like, literally. They're running around all over the place, setting up the venue, doing all the marketing, selling the tickets, setting the program, staying up all night sewing costumes (I'm looking at you, Elaine Crane), fundraising, etc. etc. etc. A Working Board/Team is frequently doing this on top of all their other @#$%, including full time jobs and full time families, and often at their own expense.
To sum up, your Funding Boards and Working Board/Teams are important, because without them, most artists would not be working. I once knew a singer who made a point of introducing himself to every single board member he could find, because he knew how vital they were to his business. It was kind of a revelation, because not many singers think this way. Maybe that's because artists aren't really taught about the business in school, and since we pay for school and then we pay for lessons, that can create a certain sense of institutionalization when we walk out into the business: that our art is the primary thing, and all that business stuff that creates the performance opportunities and signs our paychecks just sort of happens. Over there somewhere. By someone else. Not an artist.
But! Consider changing this dynamic using the following easy steps:
- If you're performing with an organization with a Funding Board, figure out who they are (hint: they're usually at your shows), introduce yourself, and thank them for giving you this opportunity to perform.
- If you're performing with an organization run by a Working Board/Team (or a boutique company founded by a fellow singer), thanking them is sure great, but on top of that it's spectacularly good form to offer to help. Help clean up after rehearsals or performances. Help with marketing. Any offer of help is appreciated, really.
Changing the dynamic between artists and boards at the ground level like this is also super-important because of this economic reality we're all living through. Support for the arts has been wavering as people struggle economically, as the companies restructure, and as the business changes all around us. So people who step up for what we do - both financially and as volunteers - are so important to the work, and we need to remind them of this every day. Get to know your Boards!
Angela Jajko, mezzo-soprano, is the Editor of the BSR Blog. A popular performer of opera, operetta, musical theatre, and oratorio, she has been praised in such publications as the Boston Globe and the Herald for her “peaches and cream” voice and dramatic delivery. Her recent performances have included acclaimed appearances with Opera Providence in The Romany Maid, as a featured soloist with Cape Symphony in “Passport to England” in the Barnstable Performing Arts Center, as Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore with Longwood Opera and The New England Gilbert & Sullivan Society, as the alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah with Maplewind Arts, as the alto soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with Boston Cecilia at All Saints Brookline, and in the role of Prinz Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with the North End Music and Performing Arts Center Opera Project in Faneuil Hall. Angela is the Alto Soloist at All Saints Brookline, and has also appeared as Miss Hannigan in Annie with Crescendo Theatre Company, The Lady of the Lake inSpamalot at Theatre at the Mount, selections fromCarmen in The Greater Worcester Opera Gala in Mechanics Hall, Tessa in The Gondoliers with The Sudbury Savoyards, Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with New England Light Opera, Carmen with Greater Worcester Opera, Offenbach’sIsland of Tulipatan with New England Light Opera, the roles of Ruth, Buttercup, Phoebe, Katisha, and The Fairy Queen in concert with the New England Gilbert & Sullivan Society, and as a featured soloist in concerts with Opera on Tap, Masstheatrica, FIRSTMusic, Ocean Park Festival Chorus, Parish Center for the Arts and New Hampshire Opera Theatre. Her performances have also included the roles of Carmen, Theodorine, Augusta, Marcellina, Hermia, Savitri, Pirate Jenny, and La Zia Principessa. She has also performed with Odyssey Opera, PORTopera, Granite State Opera, Longwood Opera, BASOTI, Harvard University, and the International Lyric Academy in Viterbo, Italy. She has been honored by the American Prize competition and holds degrees in Vocal Performance from The New England Conservatory of Music and the University of California at Los Angeles. She is currently the Associate Executive Director of NELO, an artist coordinator for Opera on Tap Boston, a Board Member of the New England Gilbert & Sullivan Society and was recently a Board Member of L’Académie, a critically acclaimed orchestra specializing in performances of French Baroque music in health institutions. She has served as Costumer for a number of productions with companies including Guerilla Opera, Company One, NELO, BASOTI and Longwood Opera. She has also served as a Director for NELO’s Rising Stars program and in other productions as Assistant Director, Stage Manager, and Props Master. She has extensive experience in administration, office management, and event management in a variety of industries. Visit her at http://angelajajko.com/.