A systems analysis of Southwest Theatre Association: an internship



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Texas Tech University


Arts management in America is facing a major crisis. Because of new demands for skills in planning, organizing and financial control, full-time administrative roles have become more prominent in art organizations in America. Boards of many art organizations have become increasingly concerned with the quality of administration. There is a fundamental lack of trained managers in the arts.

Establishment of a policy and procedure manual could relieve arts managers of dozens of decisions which would otherwise be remade almost daily. Written policy and procedure manuals make possible the most efficient achievement of the goals and objectives of the organization. The purpose of written policy and procedures is to provide the managerial infrastructure for achieving the goals and objectives of the organization,

A set of guidelines or a model of procedures is needed in order to develop a blueprint for use by other art organizations in generating, collecting and categorizing their own policy and procedure. Every art organization that could develop a written policy and procedure guideline would save critical time.

This study was executed in an eight-month internship with Southwest Theatre Association. The internship provided the opportunity to: (a) study and analyze the management operations of a typical art organization, (b) study archival processes and the methods of scholarly research, and (c) study available information concerning the collection, organizing and development of policy and procedure.

The hypothesis of the study is that if a model of procedures aimed at generating, collecting and categorizing policy and procedure for one art organization is established, other art organizations may use it to increase efficiency and lead to more effective management.

Learning the history and understanding the background of the art organization selected is vitally important to the success of the study. It is critical in determining the goals and objectives of the organization, as well as in establishing an organizational personality.

The administrative and organizational history of SWTA is one of continual striving for continuity in leadership and increased programs and activities for its members. Officials hoped the combined result of these continual efforts would mold SWTA into a year-round organization, with the capability of providing year-round activities and services.

Despite organizational progress, SWTA remains an organization with only one real function during the year. That function is the annual convention. As the Association nears its fortieth birthday, the idea of continuity and year-round service remains only an idea. It is the underlying basic objective in planning for future growth and development of the organization.

The internship/study addressed many of the initial recommendations made by the Long Range Planning Committee (LRP) when it studied SWTA operations in 1987. This included establishing two-year objectives, job descriptions, and volunteer solicitation.

The findings and recommendations made by the LRP in most areas are concurrent with the findings and recommendations of this study. A Policies and Procedures Manual, an Executive Director, and a permanent office location are the three most pressing priorities of SWTA today.