MBA Student Transforms DC’s Theater Business
When you think theater, you think Broadway. New York City. Even Los Angeles or Las Vegas.
But Washington, DC?
While known more for its monuments than its monumental plays, the DC-area theater scene is on the rise. Just ask Jeremy Skidmore, MBA '12, a Washington-based director and co-founder of the city’s first talent agency, Capital Talent Agency (CTA).
"DC is the fastest growing theater city in the United States," Skidmore said. "At its current size, only New York City produces more productions per year."
There are two Regional Theatre Tony Award-winning venues in the area: DC's Arena Stage (the first-ever winner of the award in 1976) and Arlington's Signature Theater (2009).
DC, Skidmore said, offers budding theater professionals a place to build strong resumes and a more permanent life—complete with a family, house, yard, and dog—unlike New York City.
But the city doesn't have a talent agency, the key intermediary to landing roles in many big acting metropolises like LA or NYC.
That's why Skidmore and attorney Roger Yoerges formed CTA in 2009, the DC area's first and only agency representing actors and designers in their local and cross-country theater, television, and film work.
"We know we live in a unique community where artists flow freely from large theaters to smaller theaters, where many artists have decades old personal relationships with the companies here, and where, for years, many have been negotiating their own contracts," Skidmore said.
He spent months talking with the artistic leadership of Washington's major theaters, making them aware of the agency and asking how it could strengthen their relationships with artists and improve the flow of business in the community.
Before CTA, Skidmore, a director at heart, served as the artistic director of Theater Alliance for six years. He produced DC's city-wide festival for the arts, Source Festival, for two years.
To earn his MBA full-time at Kogod, he is taking two years off from directing and focusing on CTA instead.
"I thought it would be great to apply what I was learning at American University to being involved with starting a new business," he said. "It allows me to take the classes immediately out of the theoretical and put them in the practical."
After graduation, Skidmore plans to go back to directing, using the first year back to return to freelance work and process everything he learned at Kogod. In the fall of 2012, he hopes to apply for artistic directorships and associate artistic directorships across the country.
In the meantime, he will continue his work at CTA, forging connections and landing jobs for members of the area’s thriving theater scene.