A Life In The Theatre
Director of Marketing, Maltz Jupiter Theatre
Also see other installments:
Choreographer | Associate Producer & Company Manager | Sound Designer
Scenic Designer | Director of Volunteers | Director of Education | Director | Stage Manager | Performing Arts Fundraiser | Executive Artistic Director| Costume Designer
This is the second in a series of interviews with theatre professionals in non-performing careers. Theatre Arts Management is a growing concern as many theatres come and go every year. Several universities have added a Theatre Arts Management degree to their curriculum. Let us not forget that show business is indeed a business. With a huge entertainment industry that brings so much directly to us via television and the Internet, it can be a challenge to motivate audiences to attend live theatre instead. What brings business professionals to find a home for their skills in the performing arts?
John Lariviere: What education, experience and training do you have that best prepared you for this job?
Jennifer Sardone: College laid the groundwork for what I could expect working in my field. The most important thing that prepared me for this job is the amount of experience I had gained. I was fortunate to have found the entertainment industry while working throughout college. Having worked at several venues/facilities provided me with the inner workings of the structure for all aspects of the entertainment industry as a business both for profit and non-profit. Working for a major promoter expanded my experience with theatres, small and large, throughout the country. I have established new contacts in the media, and relationships that have contributed to the success of all the plays, concerts, events and fundraisers of which I have been a part. Each job has been a new learning experience for me.
JL: What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your position?
JS: The greatest reward has always been "just to be part of the process." For me personally, I like not only when a show is successful at the box office, but when I see the audience walk out "changed" by their experience because each person has been "touched" differently. Not many people understand what it takes to put on a professional play or musical. The challenge lies in continuing to educate the public on the process of what it means to produce a show.
JL: In what way, if any, does this job differ from a similar position outside of the arts?
JS: I have always been a strong believer in the arts having been raised in New York. Coming from the concert industry, I had different limitations for marketing the shows than I do with theatre. However, the Maltz respects and is proud to be a part of Equity; and to that end, it allows marketing to be even more creative. Going from profit to non-profit is a challenge. Sometimes in for-profit you tend to feel like you are among thousands of other businesses, but in non-profit you can stand alone and are stronger because of this. I think it helps many theatres to be non-profit because in marketing it allows for partnership with companies and organizations that like to align themselves with a charitable organization that promotes the arts. I am thankful for all of the people and local businesses that have and will continue to support The Maltz.
JL: What type of person is best suited for this job? What would you look for if you were hiring someone for this position?
JS: I would say, a person who is able to multi-task different projects for different shows going on at the same time, keep under budget and stay on deadline. It should be someone who has a belief in the organization for which they work, both personally and professionally. Someone who can look at this job from all aspects - as a patron, a ticket buyer and a co-worker. Being a team player is a must because goals do not get achieved alone. Working at a theatre is a team effort both on stage and behind the scenes.
If I were hiring someone for this position I would first look for someone with experience in this industry because many things that cannot be taught come from the experience you gain by working within the performing arts industry. The marketing person has to have knowledge of all areas of marketing, advertising and PR, but most importantly of what a non-profit theatre is and how it functions, as well as knowing the history of the organization.
JL: What are your plans and goals for the future?
JS: I hope to see the Maltz Jupiter Theatre continue the success it has been able to achieve in such a short amount of time. My marketing plans are to increase the new generation of theatregoers from single ticket buyers to becoming subscribers and to educate them using new technology as it becomes available.
See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.
-- John Lariviere