Not your typical career thread

mbandgeek

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Apr 1, 2006
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North Carolina
I know that the terms career, and degree have appeared on this site more than anyone would dare count. But I have recently thought of owning my theater, sound/lighting rental, or manufacturing business, what would be the best route for obtaining this goal.

Would it be a good idea to double major in business and electrical engineering
or, majoring in business with minors in Acoustical engineering and Electrical engineering?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated,
Kevin
 

avkid

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Find a mentor and a summer internship first before possibly wasting your parent's and the government's(never mind that last part)money on a degree that you may never use.
 

Van

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Portland, Or.
I'd say you're on the right track. What most people who end up owning a scenic company or lighting company lack is formal bussiness education. If you are serious about that path I'd ay keep doing theatre, get into production, event/corporate A/V, lighting, set dressing, is where the real money is.
 

gafftaper

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Yeah I would try to get a job at a business like that before you try to start your own. A summer doing counter sales or dealing with rentals being all screwed up might change your mind or give you a direction to go.
 

mbandgeek

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North Carolina
so, basically the common consensus is to intern first, then if i am serious about this get a degree in theater and business. Correct?
 

gafftaper

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I think so... and you might not need the theater degree. First off starting a business is a very risky thing. Most of them fail. So the business degree would be very helpful. The intern/on the job experience will help you see that world from the inside. I'm not sure how helpful the theater degree is, it's less important you know design and more important that you really know what the gear is and how to use it. So again working in a business for a while seems really important. I think if it was me I would get the business degree and a job at a theater supply place, and play community theater. Give that a few years.

Finally, in your business you need to surround yourself with people who really know their stuff. So making those connections in community theater and in the business will be really helpful to networking with people who you should consider hiring someday.

Of all the career threads, the one you are considering is the most risky, the one where our advice will help the least, and the most potential for failure with no safety net. If you screw up as a board op, you just move on to another production... if you screw up your business you are in debt, out of work, and can't just move on to another theater. So that business degree, life experience, and the people you surround yourself with are critical. I would also seriously think about trying to find a business partner. Maybe someone who has the theater degree/years of experience but doesn't have the business degree.
 
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SHARYNF

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Sep 3, 2006
Contrary to what all the tech schools who promote degrees in audio engineering production etc etc, in most cases, IMO you are far better off getting a degree in business, you can then take classes in some of the electronics or theory, but most of the real expertize in these areas really comes from experience, a good concept foundation helps but most really comes from doing and learning thru mentoring.

Understanding the business side of things is where what they teach you in school typically is relevent for the rest of your professional career, where as the tech stuff you might learn tends to become outdated very quickly.

Sharyn
 

thorin81

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Dec 5, 2003
Location
Salt Lake City, Utah
There are several universities that offer a Theatre Administration/Management Degree. I had to take some classes in that area in order to be a teacher - I say THAT is the way to go. If you want to own your own theatre, the theatre management degree will go throught the bussiness and the theatre part of running a house of your own.

Good Luck!!
 

Spikesgirl

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Mar 3, 2008
Location
CA
Thorin81 is right on with the suggestion of taking a path in theater management. It will more succinctly address questions and situations that you will encounter in theater. There's a lot more to running a theater than just the backstage end of it. I have several degrees in technical theater and none of them prepared me for working in the front office.

Volunteer to work in the front of the house for at least one summer. Explain what you are working towards so that you can get the most out of the experience. It's not as much fun as backstage, but it is where the money is and for you to be successful, you need to understand number crunching just as much as you do lighting, set or sound design.

Also examine yourself and ask why you want to do this. Theater is rewarding, but it's not easy life. If you're doing it because you think it's easy, glamourous or exciting, you probably want to think about it a little more. If you're ready to commit, start at the bottom, do every and anything back and front, at the theater and then make your decision.

Good luck!

Charlie