At the 2019 DGF Gala we honored President of Concord Theatricals, Sean Patrick Flahaven, TodayTix Founders, Brian Fenty and Merritt Baer, and Tony Award-winners, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty(Ragtime, Once On This Island).
In the weeks surrounding this exciting event, our President, Andrew Lippa sat down with honoree Sean Patrick Flahaven to discuss the creative gifts and challenges of being a creative multi-hyphenate, a parent, a partner, and a leader.
We’re proud to share this interview with you and hope that it inspires you to reflect on the ways in which you nurture your own work, support the work of other writers, and show gratitude to all those around you that make theatre possible.
Andrew Lippa: You’ve been incredibly supportive of DGF over the years, and you also support a number of initiatives that help protect the value and interests of writers. Why is that so important to you? What do you wish people knew about the work of writers?
Sean Patrick Flahaven: The DGF has been a priority for giving for me, personally and professionally, for many years. No one but writers and composers start with a blank page and nothing else. No one else works for no compensation until the show is done, most of the time, which means no one takes bigger artistic and financial risks with their careers. Every show, every song we all love starts with writers and composers. My career and my business have always been in service of them.
AL: You’ve had so many different titles and worked many different jobs. You’re obviously President of Concord, but you’re also a writer, composer, orchestrator, conductor, producer, and were even a journalist for many years. I’m curious, how does that diversity of experience inform your work and life?
SPF: I learned early on in life that having developing multiple interests and cultivating multiple skills made me a happier person. It also allowed me to make a living, especially as a freelancer earlier in my career. Perhaps more importantly, it helped me develop an appreciation for all of the collaborators in a production, and respect everyone’s contributions: artistic, entrepreneurial, and administrative.
AL: How have you maintained a creative life and career in the midst of such a challenging management role? The ability to balance both at your level is astounding to me.
SPF: It’s certainly not easy to balance creativity, running a large business, and a personal life, including fatherhood. I had wonderful models in my parents and extended family, as well as very supportive friends, colleagues, and employers. It’s involved a great deal of careful scheduling and constant mindfulness of what’s important. While my creative outlets have shifted, I genuinely find satisfaction in the managerial work as well. My partner and kids appreciate that my passion became my work.
AL: Technology, social media, and film and television have changed quite significantly over the past few years, and they are constantly in conversation with the world of theater. In your opinion, has the role of the writer changed over the past decade in light of these other changes? Are writers being better respected? What are the new challenges for writers?
SPF: I think the Dramatists Guild has certainly helped to improve respect for writers in the theatre, and the success of writer-driven theatre and television projects in particular has raised general awareness in the public. That said, writers and composers still face a steep uphill climb, and the DGF is necessary to sustain their education, growth, and safety net to make things just a little bit easier.