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Re: Questions for University Shop Managers

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  • Curtis
    Wow...I don t know if conditions are still the same at my alma mater, but if students had shown that little respect for their appointments, costumes, and
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 12, 2008
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      Wow...I don't know if conditions are still the same at my alma mater,
      but if students had shown that little respect for their appointments,
      costumes, and roles, they wouldn't have stayed in the department for
      long. The professor in charge of the costume shop did NOT take
      crap--from anyone...and if you annoyed her sufficiently, she would
      chew you out in a fashion that would have been the envy of any
      military drill instructor (I saw her do it once...that's all I needed
      to see to make sure that I did what I needed to do). By contrast,
      however, if you were conscientious about your work in the shop, if you
      were on time for your appointments, if you didn't whine about your
      costumes, and wore them the way they were intended to be worn, she was
      one of the greatest, most supportive and enthusiastic people I've ever
      worked with.

      Granted, I wasn't the shop manager, but I spent a LOT of time in the
      costume shop for several shows. We had the work-study students, but
      we also had practicum students every semester that had to put in so
      many hours in order to secure a grade. We had introductory theater
      tech students that also had to work in the shop for some of the time
      (they also had to spend some time working in the scene shop, and some
      time painting the sets). We also had several students, in any given
      semester, that came into the shop to help out--for fun, to enjoy the
      social atmosphere, to satisfy their curiosity, because they realized
      how much effort went into costuming a cast of thirty people, or
      whatever. We had one mainstage show either running or in development
      at any time, but we also had several secondary productions--childrens
      theater, student productions, graduate productions, directing classes,
      etc--that had costume shop support (though each one had their own
      costume designer, so that the design burden was shared around and as
      many people as possible got the chance to design a show). We also ran
      a summer stock theater (I never worked on that particular project...)
      and costume rentals (which required constant attention to return
      rented costumes to the proper locations in the storage area...)

      Suffice it to say our shop manager had a very different experience
      than was described below...which one is more indicative of the college
      environment, I can't say.

      --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, Paula McWhirter-Buck
      <keridwyn_98@...> wrote:
      >
      > i work as costume designer/shop supervisor/manager for a private
      college in western north carolina...after spending 20 years (off and
      on) working for a small summer stock theatre in a near by town.  the
      college theatre arts department turns into a (different) professional
      summer stock theatre, which i also work for, now, in the same
      possition, but i choose the productions i want to work on in the
      summer, and the rest are contracted out.
      > during the school year i have 2 "work study" kids that come in for a
      couple of hours every day...in the summer i have 2 paid assistants
      that have come with me from my former job.  these work study kids may
      or may not be department students (not neccessarily theatre
      students...in the case of THIS semester i had one that was in the
      musical theatre department and one that was a chemistry major, but has
      decided to change her major to theatre emphasizing on technical
      theatre).  they also may change from semester to semester, and usually
      have little, if any, costumeing skills and require constant
      supervision.  my first year i spent more time redoing their jobs then
      i did doing my own.
      --<block deleted the rest for the sake of brevity>
    • Cheryl McCarron
      Hi Kate, I manage the costume shop at Hofstra University in Long Island, NY.  I pattern & build all the costumes for 3 drama productions and one dance concert
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 14, 2008
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        Hi Kate,
        I manage the costume shop at Hofstra University in Long Island, NY.  I pattern & build all the costumes for 3 drama productions and one dance concert per semester. I supervise student crews 3 days a week for three hours each and have 6 student aides that work for me. I also design for the department although that is separate from my responsibilities as shop manager.
         
        I spend most of my time patterning and cutting and then handing stuff off to my student aides to assemble. I also teach my student aides patterning as most of them are very motivated to learn and it helps me as well. Technically though, the department is not allowed to say that I "teach" because my position is in the secretary's union and secretarys don't teach. That is the most annoying aspect of my job. It's sort of a glitch that happened many years before I was hired and any effort to remove my position from the secretary's union has failed.
         
        Another frustrating (I wouldn't say that anything is really difficult) part of the job is dealing with students who are forced to do crew but don't want to be there. Some of them have no pride in their work or motivation to do anything that they feel doesn't relate to acting.  Fortunately, they are the minority. I am very lucky to get lots of students who really want to learn and have a sense of pride in the work they accomplish, which is the best part of the job for me.
         
        The big advantage to managing a university shop is being able to use the shop when I need to. I do a lot of freelance design work and love being able to do it in a spacious shop rather than my studio apartment. I also have access to the costume stock and to students who I have trained who are always eager to make some extra cash if I need stitching help on freelance projects. My department has allowed me to be very flexible with my hours which has enabled me to continue my freelance design career.
         
        On the flip side, I have occassionally had to turn down design jobs due to the university schedule. And since I am also full time during the summer though there is little to do, sometimes finagling time away to do summer projects can get challenging.
         
        Hope this is helpful. Good luck with your decision.

        Best,

        Cheryl McCarron
        NYC Fabric Finder

        --- On Thu, 12/11/08, Kate Murphy <costumerkate@...> wrote:

        From: Kate Murphy <costumerkate@...>
        Subject: [TheCostumersManifesto] Questions for University Shop Managers
        To: TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Thursday, December 11, 2008, 8:35 PM






        Since I'm considering a university position, I thought I would ask
        those of you who are costume shop managers at colleges or universities
        a couple questions -- I could use some input!

        First, what would you say you spend MOST of your time doing?

        What do you think are the most difficult parts of the job?

        What do you like least about your position?

        What do you like best?

        Do you think you are better or worse off than you would be in a
        professional shop? Why?

        THANK YOU to anyone who can respond; I truly appreciate it.

        Kate


















        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Cheryl McCarron
        Hi Kate, I just read Paula s response to your e-mail and want to add a couple of things to my response now.   In my department, I have gained the reputation
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 14, 2008
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          Hi Kate,
          I just read Paula's response to your e-mail and want to add a couple of things to my response now.
           
          In my department, I have gained the reputation among the students of not tolerating lateness for fitting appointments, so it is usually not a problem. If a student is late or doesn't show, they receive a strongly worded letter from the chair of the department which means it usually doesn't happen again.
           
          As far as my student aides, I give them a sewing test before I hire them. I am not looking for an extraordinary level of skill - I just want to know that they can follow directions and sew a straight line. If they have some pride in their work and are interested in learning, I can teach them sewing skills. As a result, my junior and senior student aides are capable of assisting me in supervising the student crews. Sometimes, I have three crews at a time with 30+ students, so it is too much for me alone. Occassionally, we do have to fix some of the crews' work, but I rarely have to fix the work done by my student aides.
           
          Also, since my position is in the secretary's union, I am paid hourly based on a 35 hour work week. For any hours over that (and I do lots), I get paid overtime. I think, however, that is unusual for shop manager positions.
           
          If you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me at NYCFabricFinder@....
          -Cheryl 
           
           
           
           

          Cheryl McCarron
          NYC Fabric Finder

          --- On Thu, 12/11/08, Kate Murphy <costumerkate@...> wrote:

          From: Kate Murphy <costumerkate@...>
          Subject: [TheCostumersManifesto] Questions for University Shop Managers
          To: TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Thursday, December 11, 2008, 8:35 PM






          Since I'm considering a university position, I thought I would ask
          those of you who are costume shop managers at colleges or universities
          a couple questions -- I could use some input!

          First, what would you say you spend MOST of your time doing?

          What do you think are the most difficult parts of the job?

          What do you like least about your position?

          What do you like best?

          Do you think you are better or worse off than you would be in a
          professional shop? Why?

          THANK YOU to anyone who can respond; I truly appreciate it.

          Kate


















          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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