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On Steering Direction Through RAFT

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

I am the artistic director of Corps Bara Dance Theatre, a contemporary dance company that has been around for about 18 years but has gone through a huge shift in vision, personnel, and structure, resulting in a period of sabbatical and re-visioning over the last few years.

I began as Artistic Director in the middle of these shifts and ended up as the sole staff member, finding myself steering the company into the future based on instinct and personal vision.

My background is in performance and choreography, so the visioning process and resulting plan for moving forward artistically felt exciting and full of possibility, but at war with a sense of being ill-equipped to tackle the management side of things with strategic planning, goal setting and looking at long-term growth.

RAFT (Rozsa Admin Fundamentals Training) was a great introduction to many of the things I had questions about. It was so helpful to have a process laid out for defining the identity of an organization with vision, mission and value statements, then looking at what you already have through a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, to looking at a long-term vision and finally creating measurable, strategic goals. The things you can do to set a company up for success, in what order and how.

The weekend was structured around the use of a case study, which was beneficial for a bunch of reasons. The people attending RAFT were a diverse array of arts professionals from different art forms, holding numerous positions within organizations.

The case study made it possible to get us all on the same page while still being able to apply information to our particular role and situation. It was also a great way to be pushed to consider our peers’ perspectives both in our real-life situations and as we’re asked to act out a role we might not hold in reality.

I was pushed to consider the future of the case study’s organization through the eyes of art directors, board members, stakeholders, financial supporters, etc., which easily translates into considering those perspectives in the building up of Corps Bara.

Derek Stevenson, who led/taught the weekend, was a fantastic resource. He was great at inviting questions and turning them into fruitful discussions and was eager to address specific areas of need for us whether or not they were covered within the planned curriculum. Definitely a valuable weekend!

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