The Society of Properties Artisan Managers
S*P*A*M (The Society of Properties Artisan Managers) is an association of professional Prop Managers and Educators. The purpose of S*P*A*M is to serve as an educational vehicle and resource for the managers and to create fellowship among property professionals to address issues of common importance to its members.
The goals of S*P*A*M are to:
Our officers are elected for one-year terms at our annual conference.
S*P*A*M, The Society of Prop Artisan Managers, is an association of professional prop managers and educators. We manage prop shops in theatres, colleges, and universities in the United States, Canada, and Ireland.
The basic requirements for membership in the Society of Properties Artisan Managers are that you be a full time Prop Master/Director/Manager (a rose is a rose) or Assistant Manager for a professional not-for-profit theatre or opera company, or a full-time educator whose primary duty is the management of a Prop Department and who teaches courses in theatrical properties and/or mentors students in preparation for a career in props.
Benefits of membership include participation in the national conference (hosted each year by a member’s home theatre), access to the members’ section of the SPAM website, which provides product resources, inventory links, past season histories, member contact information and annual conference information and notes, plus full access to the members’ e-mail group, the SPAMnet, on which members share sources, resources, vendor recommendations, technical, legal, organizational and research information, stock photos and inter-theatre loans, brainstorming on the challenges we all face each season, operating instructions for directors and designers with whom we’ve worked and the collected knowledge and experience of professional prop people from major producing organizations and educational institutions across the country and around the world.
The Society of Properties Artisan Managers promotes Anti-Oppression, Anti-Racism, and anti-ablest work with radical equity, diversity and inclusion of marginalized persons within our profession and our producing organizations, including but not limited to: Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, gender non-conforming, and queer (LGBTQ+) communities, and persons with disabilities and neurodiversity. We will actively work to dismantle structural “privileges” within our profession and institutions to affect change.
The Communications Committee strives for consistent messaging about S*P*A*M’s mission. To do this the Communications Committee manages S*P*A*M’s internal and external communications, publications, and publicity in support of S*P*A*M’s mission. We help to demonstrate and illuminate the S*P*A*M members’ leadership in the Properties profession. The Communications Committee supports the goals and work of the other S*P*A*M committees by managing all outgoing social media and website channels and by representing S*P*A*M at industry conferences to promote growth in the field of props.
The Communications Committee supports other S*P*A*M committees through publication of news and information including member surveys, member welcome packets, job postings, member events (AMA, podcasts, etc), grant related information, and through support of other ongoing programming such as S*P*A*Minar and the Anti-Oppression newsletters.
The Communications Committee oversees, administers, manages, and moderates all official S*P*A*M social media channels which currently includes:
This committee also manages and supports the S*P*AM website, which is currently under re-development.
The Communications Committee publishes all brochures and other media required for industry conferences. Members attend the annual USITT conference to set up and staff the S*P*A*M table on the expo floor. There they engage and educate all interested attendees on careers in props, our outward facing programs, and membership perks and qualifications. USITT attendance also involves supporting the Education Committee in the execution of the props game for the Skills Challenge (formerly known as Tech Olympics).
The members of S*P*A*M believe that one of our most important missions is to provide guidance to those wishing to begin or advance their career in properties. S*P*A*M will try to link interested parties with a member from our group in their surrounding area to act as a mentor. This is a free service open to any person interested in a career in props. Additionally you will find information compiled by our members regarding available intern programs throughout the country under the link titled “Internship List”. If you are interested in receiving more information regarding an intern or mentoring position simply go to the “Contact Us” page, fill in personal information, select intern opportunities from the drop down list, and send us a message.
S*P*A*M is also pleased to provide a link to member and educator Sandy Strawn’s web book THE PROP HANDBOOK. This is excellent resource for everyone at all levels of prop production and education. For the benefit of educators, Sandy has been gracious enough to put this information on the web for your use in teaching properties to your students. Please make sure to take a second to leave a comment for her. This will help her to continue her work and to pass this great collection of knowledge on to all of us.
S*P*A*M is also proud to feature blogs written by properties professionals that we believe are helpful to all levels of properties management and production. These can be found on the Internet Resources Page.
The Membership Committee Is charged with receiving applications for membership and determining whether the applicant meets the Society’s membership requirements. On receipt of an application a response is sent to every applicant acknowledging their inquiry and informing them of the next steps in the process. Qualified applicants are sent a membership form to fill out and return to the Treasurer along with their dues. Those not qualified are contacted and informed of the reason for our decision and directed to public resources such as our Props for the Stage and Beyond Powered By SPAM Facebook page. The Committee also seeks to identify members of the professional and educational community who are qualified for membership but may not be aware of the organization and advantages of membership. Future Membership Committee initiatives include the development of an onboarding “Welcome Package” for all incoming members which would contain documents, lists and links as well as instructions on accessing organizational internet resources useful to members.
S*P*A*M*, the Society of Properties Artisan Managers, began in 1992 with a meeting of six regional properties managers in Cincinnati for a day to chat, share resources and to exchange information and stories. The time together was so exhilarating, we felt this meeting should become a regularly scheduled event. The second meeting took place in Cleveland for a two-day conference. Word had gotten around about the first meeting and the next conference had 15 participants, not just local folks, but properties managers from all across the United States. During these two days, we didn’t stop talking. The wealth of props knowledge, information and resources kept flowing from breakfast, throughout lunch and dinner, long after the bar closed and throughout the next day. When we parted on Sunday afternoon, we were all so excited to learn that there are others out there who share our frustrations and joys. So often we think we feel isolated in our props world, and this gave us an avenue to express these feelings and, for many, to renew the love of the art. Today, the group has grown to include managers internationally. The driving motivation of the group is to share sources, vendors and materials, solutions and techniques, schedules, budgeting, safety issues, research, anecdotes, and all of the other arcane and mysterious components that go into running and working in a professional Prop Shop.
Below is a listing of our conferences to date, with enormous thanks to our hosts, who extended not only their hospitality, but worked long hours to organize our ever-growing annual event.
2020 Virtual Online Conference – Sarah Gullickson of Guthrie Theater, Mara Rich of Syracuse Stage, and Karin Rabe Vance of SD Arts Co., hosts
2019 Utah Shakespeare Festival – Ben Hohman and Marielle Boneau, hosts
2018 Goodman, Steppenwolf, DePaul Univ, Chicago Shakespeare, Chicago, IL
2017 Alley Theater, Houston, Texas – Karin Rabe Vance, host
2016 Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Oregon – Jim Clark & PJ, hosts
2015 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland, Washington, DC – Tim Jones, host
2014 Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee, WI – Jim Guy, Sandy Strawn, Lisa Schlenker, hosts
2013 Kansas City Rep, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO – Michael Schall, Nancy Wagner, Sean Dane, Deb Morgan, hosts
2011 Childsplay Theatre, Tempe, AZ – Jim Luther, host
2012 Denver Theatre Center – Robin Payne, host
2010 Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco, CA – Ashley Dawn, host
2009 Actors Theatre of Louisville, Louisville, KY – Mark Walston & Doc Manning, hosts
2008 Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Seattle, WA – Jolene Obertin, Elizabeth A. Friedrich, Edie Whitsett, and Marne Cohen-Vance, hosts
2007 Guthrie Theatre, Minnesota Opera, Children’s Theatre, Minneapolis, MN – Patricia Olive, Dean Hawthorne, and Sue Brockman, hosts
2006 Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City, UT & Las Vegas, NV – Ben Hohman, host
2005 North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, NC – Bland Wade, host
2003 Alley Theatre, Houston, TX – Randy Ingram, host
2004 Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO – John Roslevich, host
2002 Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles, CA – Ed Haynes, host
2001 Goodman Theatre, Chicago, IL – Alice Maguire, host
2000 Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee, WI – Jim Guy, Sandy Strawn, Lisa Schlenker, hosts
1999 Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indianapolis, IN – Alice George, host
1998 Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR – PJ Martin, host
1997 Denver Theatre Center, Denver, CO – Jaylene Wallace, host
1996 Missouri Repertory Theatre, Kansas City, MO – Deb Morgan, host
1995 Actors Theatre of Louisville, Louisville, KY – Ron Riall & Mark Bisonette, hosts
1994 Cleveland Playhouse, Cleveland, OH – Monique Walker, host
1992 Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati, OH – Mary Kay Stone, host