There’s an old cliche of the all-powerful producer, wearing a cape, sweeping in and out of theaters, barking orders and all in attendance snapping to attention.
And, yet, for many good reasons, it’s simply not possible to produce in this manner today. For one, shows are just too expensive. Very rarely today can there be one funder, one lead producer, or one all-mighty visionary.
Producing, especially post pandemic, requires checking one’s ego at the door and building a coalition of the willing and able. A producer simply cannot go it alone. Partners are needed at all levels of development: to engage artistic teams or stars, to secure venues, and to rally the good will of the industry.
A producer must also be willing to hear things they do not want to hear. If a producer’s ego is too big, or their sense of self too weak, they will not be able to take in and act upon feedback from their team. A producer who can’t be managed up is a producer who likely won’t succeed today.
The same is true of a general manager. We must be sure of our ideas, but willing to be led down unexpected paths. The producer and general manager should be able to have a free flowing exchange of ideas, working as partners to find solutions when solutions seem improbable.
Producing is as much the art of persuasion as it is the ability to identify timely projects and raise funds. Producers today must not only lead, they must be able to understand what their coalition lacks, cast their ego aside, course correct, and persuade others to join the fray.