Schedule Arts: The answer to relieving one of opera’s biggest headaches
by Stephen Brody
Anyone who has been directly involved with an opera company will tell you that the production schedule can be a giant headache. As performers, we stay up late to search through a massive Excel or Word document of tomorrow’s schedule praying we don’t miss our name for a rehearsal. Administrators spend 3-5 hours inputting rehearsals, costume fittings, artist coachings etc., only to spend even more time triple checking for double bookings and errors. Even then, mistakes slip through the cracks. It is a long, laborious process and every company has their own way of doing it.
Due to this constant struggle, during the summer of 2011, Andy Lunsford, a tenor, and I, a baritone, set out to solve the problems surrounding the production scheduling process. We put together a small team of performers with extensive business, design and programming skills. Our goal was simple: to create an easy to use web application that reduced time, prevented conflicts, and is affordable for all arts organizations.
As performers, we have a very intimate knowledge of how the scheduling process works. We started by building our application on one of the most widely used website platforms in the world, powering sites for the Whitehouse, NASA and Harvard University. This platform allows us to handle any workload, no matter the size. First and foremost, we wanted to eliminate the hours and energy spent searching for and correcting rehearsal conflicts. We created a proprietary conflict recognition system that identifies and alerts administrators of conflicts between groups, individuals and locations. Our system allows administrators to actively resolve conflicts, effectively eliminating all unintentional errors and double bookings.
In order to streamline the input of events, we created a very simple event wizard. The wizard allows the admin to create calls and events quickly in an easy to use form. In the past, when the schedule was finalized, more often than not, performers and staff would receive an email with a PDF attachment of the schedule that they had to search through. As expected, sometimes artists would miss a rehearsal because they didn’t see their name or group amidst the excess amount of information. To combat this, we built our Personal Schedule Email system to deliver an email with each artist’s personalized schedule. Artists no longer have to search through a complicated spreadsheet or worry about missing a rehearsal.
Schedule Arts is more than just an event scheduler, it’s an arts specific communications tool. We built this web application to drastically improve communication between artists and administrators. The application allows users to access their schedule anywhere, anytime whether it is via web, mobile or print. We are working on new features to instantly alert artists of updates to the schedule, integrate release requests and much more.
Schedule Arts will officially launch at the 2013 Opera America Conference this May. Schedule Arts Beta has had great success working with some of the top opera companies and universities in the country. Andy and I created Schedule Arts to be affordable for all arts organizations, big or small. We are confident that we can revolutionize the way arts organizations manage their production schedules.
Opera is constantly evolving and using new technology onstage and off, such as 3D lighting and simulcasts; it’s time that we embrace new technology to simplify how we manage the rehearsal process as well. So artistic administrators, stage managers and the like – you can put away the Advil and coffee – Schedule Arts is here to help.
To learn more about Schedule Arts, please visit www.schedulearts.com