Position Paper from German Orchestra Union on the Future Leaders for Professional Theatre and Orchestra
Due to the situation of public budgets in Germany, the change in general conditions, but also owing to various political debates, the demands on managerial staff in theatres and orchestras have grown considerably over the past 20 years.
“Running a theatre requires management who think and plan ahead, who develop clear objectives, aim for a superior artistic and commercial performance, who make clear decisions, control the outcomes of actions taken and draw the consequences for further activities […] Apart from organisational conditions, efficient leadership of a theatre depends strongly on the personal qualifications of those responsible within the executive team of a theatre.”1
Despite the fact that these principles were formulated already in 1989, there are still significant deficits when it comes to the training of new management personnel that are not conducive to the preservation and development of theatres and orchestras in Germany. This should be an obligation especially of educational institutions as well as the funding bodies of the leading theatres and operas themselves.
Artistic freedom, which is protected by article 5 of Germany’s federal constitution, is a great good whose general conditions must be guaranteed by the public authorities. At the same time, artistic freedom must not be a pretext for inadequate management and leadership training, poor operational figures or below average revenues.
Examples of artistically ambitious as well as commercially successful and professionally run theatres and orchestras (on both state and municipal level) show that “art and commerce” may well complement and mutually reinforce each other in the outstanding leadership and administration of an institution. Management training should support such positive examples.
From the perspective of the professional orchestra associations and their members in Germany we call upon the relevant legal bodies and educational institutions with the following requests:
1. The training of future management personnel for theatres and orchestras at universities and academies must be strengthened and improved.
2. Greater attention should be paid to the obligatory and attestable proof of management qualifications and social competence when selecting executive staff of theatres and orchestras.
3. Improved communication skills are necessary. This relates externally to audiences, the business community and the political arena, but also to educational institutions, the press and media. It relates internally to employees and to transparent decision-making processes.
4. In particular, it is essential to demonstrate comprehensive expertise in strategic corporate development as well as responsible human resources management in all areas of an organisation (artistic/non-artistic).
5. The job profile of the purely artistic director and “autocrat” is becoming obsolete. Given the extensive changes of general conditions faced by theatres and orchestras over the past decades, the standard contract of the German Theatre Association (Deutscher Bühnenverein) is now an anachronism, no longer up to date and needs to change.
6. New contracts for directors should contain more flexible, performance-related elements of pay, they should limit paid secondary employment and guest engagements, and stipulate an obligation to frequent local presence.
7. It is necessary to provide a comprehensive and clear job description, accompanied by relevant target agreements. These must also include controlling as well as quality and service management.
8. Regular and mandatory further training of directors and other executive staff in the specified areas of expertise presupposes the acceptance to continue professional development and the creation of suitable courses, e.g. in co-operation with the numerous art and culture management programmes.
Hanover, 24 May 20122
1 KGSt-Report “Management and Guidance of Theaters”, Cologne, 1989, p.15
2 Adopted at General Assembly of DOV from May 24, 2012 in Hannover