Thursday, 23 August 2018

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Samyuktha Punthambekar

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Samyuktha Punthambekar trained in arts management with Mitchell Marcus at Musical Stage Company in Toronto


(August 15, 2018)  The mentorship with Mitchell Marcus and Musical Stage Company has been one the best in my career so far. I could not have hoped and asked for such a fulfilling and thorough mentorship.

Mitchell Marcus, in my opinion, is one of the finest mentors that the Toronto Arts community has. During my time at The Musical Stage Company, Mitchell spent a lot of time with me in understanding my space, the background where I come from as well my strengths and weaknesses. He also offered a keen listening ear when I spoke to him about the systemic challenges that are currently affecting our community. Mitchell not only offered strong suggestions, but was also a solid support and acknowledged these challenges. This to me was extremely refreshing and assuring, especially coming from a leader.

I was given full freedom to tailor my mentorship in the direction that solely benefitted me and my growth. There were very specific areas that I identified and felt I needed to develop on. Mitchell and his team offered their unconditional support and were never hesitant in answering any of my questions. The assignments/projects that I was tasked with were all ‘real-life’ which resulted in me gaining invaluable experience. Some of the projects that I got to work on were The Living Arts Centre’s 2018/19 season launch, creating draft contracts for Equity, and work as a Front of House Manager for Dr. Silver (which was staged in partnership with Luminato and The National Arts Centre). I also got to be a part of a fundraising event, where Board members of the company were also present. One of the areas which I am deeply passionate about is fundraising and grants. This event gave me first-hand experience in how an event of this magnitude was managed so efficiently and with great success.

As an emerging arts manager and leader, given the constraints of a new immigrant with no family support, it is vitally important for my career at this point to take on several projects. Mitchell was extremely accommodating in understanding this aspect and allowed a great sense of flexibility. This in turn, allowed me to interview with a few arts organizations and I was eventually able to secure a part-time opportunity, after four years due to systemic barriers, with Jaberi Dance Theatre as an Administrative Producer.

This mentorship has re-engineered my purpose in the arts as an emerging arts leader and a strong advocate for inclusive practice to find solutions for the gaps and systemic barriers. It has also enhanced my expertise to identify and clearly communicate, that is largely catering towards new immigrants' needs and requirements, and slowly identifying my interests and true calling in arts management. This for me has been the greatest strength, wealth and peace of mind ever since I moved to Canada in 2011. The Musical Stage Company is an organization that is not just producing amazing new musicals but is doing it with a clear mandate for supporting artistic works—with a deep social relevance cause. Mitchell Marcus is one of the few leaders, who supports and is upfront about an important cause such as inclusive practice at staff, leadership and board levels in arts organizations. I would highly recommend mentoring under him and the Musical Stage Company for any POC, especially new immigrant POCs.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Theatre Ontario and the PTTP grant jury for this incredible opportunity. I have a great amount of respect and love for Musical Stage Company and the work it creates. This has propelled me to think about a deeper community engagement for Musical Stage’s productions with a view to reach a wider and more diverse audience—especially with the new immigrant community. I am of the firm belief that if an organization invests in a new immigrant’s development during their initial stages, the dividends will certainly be tremendous.

I also want to sincerely thank Mitchell Marcus and the Musical Stage Company for mentoring me and giving me renewed energy to make a difference in the arts community!

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The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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