Meet Eric Butler! Eric is a theatre enthusiast and business aficionado, proving you can combine your interests in both management and the arts in building your very own career! Eric is one of our incredible BC arts alumni guests attending….
Career Night for the Arts 2016! Come join us on Thursday, November 16th between 7:00pm – 8:30pm in the Heights Room to meet tons of BC alumni working in the arts to network, ask questions, and get advice about developing your own creative career! Check out the Arts Council Career Night for the Arts website for more info, or look at the Facebook event page! This event is a collaborative endeavor between the Arts Council, the Career Center, and the Alumni Association.
Eric Butler is the founder of Final Bow Productions, a commercial production company that invests in live entertainment, specifically Broadway and touring theatrical productions. He has served as a professional fundraiser in the not-for-profit sector since 2006, and his passion for education and the arts has helped him raise several millions of dollars for private institutions in his home state of Massachusetts. With substantial professional experience in fundraising and investor/donor relations, and an educational background in business and theatre arts, Eric is able to utilize these skill sets as he explores opportunities to produce and invest in works for the commercial stage. In the corporate sector, he has served as a consultant for Brown Brothers Harriman and an MBA Associate/Project Manager at Liberty Mutual, both with headquarters in Boston, MA.
Eric is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA where he received degrees in Psychology and Theater. Following his graduation from Holy Cross, Eric served as a production assistant on the Broadway musical High Fidelity. In 2012, he received his M.B.A. (specializations in Marketing Informatics and Brand & Product Management) from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA. Eric is also an alumnus of the Commercial Theater Institute in New York City, NY.
- You have worked extensively in the art world, specifically in the theater arts, and your career has progressed along. How would you describe this journey?
My career in the arts, like everything else, is a work in progress. The learning never ends. I’m blessed to be able to balance my work in commercial theater investing/producing with a more than full-time career in educational management. I do have to say that I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness shown to me by the Broadway community. I have been very fortunate to have received advice and mentoring from some of Broadway’s most successful producers. There is a tremendous level of support and opportunity out there for those who seek to network with and learn from the best.
- What made you decide to start your own company and what was the most fun part and the most frustrating part about starting your own company?
At Boston College, mostly through Professor Gallaugher’s Graduate Tech Trek, I developed a love of entrepreneurship. Starting Final Bow Productions was a way for me to begin to apply the skills developed in graduate school on a very practical level. It has been a blast for me to combine my love of theater with my interest in business. In my life, I always strive for balance. Investing and producing allows me to think analytically, yet be surrounded by great creativity.
In this industry, you need patience. It can take a very long time for a project to come your way that you think has strong commercial viability, but still possesses artistic integrity. The good ones are worth the wait.
- Your past/current work experiences involve being a fundraiser in the non-profit sector and also a consultant and an MBA Associate/Project Manager in the corporate sector. Could you describe and talk about your involvement in both non-profit sector and corporate sector and how it impacted your career?
In many ways, my past and current experiences have served as a ‘perfect storm’ for producing. As an undergraduate psychology and theater double major at the College of the Holy Cross (the other Massachusetts Jesuit school!), I was exposed to many of the Western world’s best classic and contemporary dramatic works through theater history, dramatic literature, acting, and production courses. These classes gave me the ability to think critically about dramatic structure and recognize and appreciate strong, quality work.
My experiences in business school and in the corporate sector have given me the skill set to recognize investment potential in the arts. Broadway is a business and when evaluating investment opportunities you need to be comfortable dissecting contracts, capitalization and operating budgets, and recoupment schedules. There isn’t a project that crosses my desk where I don’t apply Porter’s Five Forces as part of my analysis!
And the last piece is the ability to raise funds. Obviously, theatre can’t be produced without the necessary resources. There are certainly many similarities between fundraising for a non-profit and raising capital for commercial theatre. Both philanthropists and investors want to see their funds treated with the utmost fiscal responsibility and to hopefully see an impactful return from their support.
- What during your time at BC do you feel was the most helpful advice or experience on your path to your career?
The best piece of advice I received in grad school might have come from Professor Bob Radin during the first week of class in his Managing People and Organizations course. He told a group of wide-eyed MBA candidates, “If you’re not good at something at this point in your life, you’ll probably never be good at it. Find something you’re good at and be the best you can be at that.” In a society that hands out ‘participation’ trophies left and right – this type of direct advice really brought focus and direction to the type of discernment that should be a part of your graduate school experience.
Given my unconventional background, the Boston College MBA program also put me out of my comfort zone. Having never taken a business course previously, I was forced into intense, academically rigorous accounting, finance, marketing, and management courses during our first semester. This fish-out-of-water/underdog experience (genres that almost always work) proved to me that natural competence combined with hard work can lead to unbridled satisfaction amid risk.