Thursday, June 9, 2011

Which Man is the Right Man for the Job--Lots to Consider

Posted by Bruce Miller
It’s been an interesting few days to be Scott Wichmann’s employer. As those of you who read this blog are aware, there are a few folks out there who question the manner in and level at which we employ Scotty. Today, Phil and I and Barksdale / Theatre IV were recognized as "Patriotic Employers" by Commanding Officer Michael S. Mullen, CDR, USN for … our employment of Petty Officer Scott Wichmann.

In a very pleasant breakfast ceremony, we were presented with Letters of Commendation thanking our two nonprofit theatres for contributing “to national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force.”

Like so many issues that all business leaders face, there are multiple sides to every story, and differing perspectives that must be factored in to any decision.

There are at least 90 theatre artists and administrators who live and work in Richmond based on the fact that they have full time or full time equivalent employment with Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV. Many of them are touring actors. Many of them are staff members. Some of them are independent artists who work with us on a close to consistent basis.

Scott falls into that final group, and we consider ourselves (and Richmond) very lucky to have him. We are privileged to employ Scott as an actor, director and playwright. In addition to his work at Barksdale and Theatre IV, Scott works a few hours each week at Game Stop, located next door to Barksdale Willow Lawn. He also works in logistics for the U. S. Naval Reserves.

With every assignment we offer Scott, we know that we must work around his commitment to the U. S. Navy. It’s usually no big deal. But on occasion, we have to make special arrangements, like when the wonderful Charles Wissenger replaced Scotty during the final week (plus a couple days) of Shipwrecked, the first play in Barksdale’s 2010-11 Signature Season.

I know that everyone who knows Scott loves him personally. I suspect that everyone acknowledges that he is a tremendous asset to our theatre community. I know that those people who think I offer Scott too much employment have issues with my casting judgment and fairness, not Scott’s talent. I know there are lots of people who expect Barksdale and Theatre IV to do even more to keep talented theatre artists in Richmond, to offer more employment weeks to Central Virginia’s finest, and to pay higher salary and benefit packages.

We do what we can. We work to find the balances that most benefit our companies, the artistic quality of our work, our employees, and our significant responsibilities to the theatre community at large.

I have to admit, today, it was nice to hear from someone of standing that our employment practices are exemplary. Sometimes, in the back and forth of blogdom, it seems like there’s no way to satisfy all the diverse opinions and differing perspectives. This conversation is good, because it helps us see how things look through the eyes of others. It provides us with the opportunity to explain our own perspectives, as limited as they may be. The goal, one day, is for the vast majority of us in Richmond who care about theatre to embrace, or at least accept, a major professional theatre that will be built on the foundations of, but also surpass, every professional, nonprofit theatre that preceded it. Honest communication will be necessary if we even have a chance of fulfilling that goal.

We ask for, and appreciate, any help you can give us as we move forward. Everyone is welcome.

--Bruce Miller

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