New Delhi: India's very first theatre management programme, Strategic Management in the Art of Theatre (SMART) has been launched jointly by Indian Theatre Forum ( ITF), Indian Foundation for the Arts and Junoon recently. The programme aims to make any theatre group/ organization more sustainable, effective, financially viable and capable of giving shape to creative ideas.
SMART builds on the experience and knowledge within the Indian theatre community, while also drawing upon the outside resources to add strength to innovative work. It is the first course especially tailored for the needs of theatre in India. A significant feature of the programme is its 'Do-it-Yourself' module that strengthens the management capacities of the theatre groups, thereby enabling them to develop a strategic plan aptly suited for their own intrinsic needs.
The programme has been conceived under the mentorship of Milena Dragicevic Sesic, Head of UNESCO 's Cultural Policy and Management and a professor at University of Arts in Belgrade. Along with her, the team includes leaders in their respective fields of theatre and arts management in India like Sameera Iyengar, Arundhati Ghosh, Sanjna Kapoor, Sudhanva Despande, Swati Apte, and Sunil Shanbag along with many more.
Theatre director Sunil Shanbag, who joins the programme as a facilitator says, "We need managers who can equally grapple with logistics, systems, cash flow, as with idealism, compassion, and a vision that goes beyond the bottom line."
Even though management practices existed, the team felt a strong need for Arts Management that particularly matched the reality of Indian theatre contexts and practices. Agrees Actor/director Sudhanva Deshpande, "Artists approach things with passion and a commitment to make a change, not with spreadsheets and business plans. It helps to not have a good sense of the enormity of your goal. Sometimes, it is good to be fired by an impractical, illogical, seemingly unattainable dream. But also, the opposite: impractical and illogical dreams will remain unattainable unless, at an early-enough stage, you translate them into concrete, quantifiable, attainable goals. Without idealism, you are not an artist. With idealism alone, you will find it awfully hard to remain an artist." By Kirti Arora