Join us for an afternoon webinar to grow your repertoire of skills for a sustainable career as we feature professionals who share their methods and experiences focusing on mental and financial health, advocating for yourself, and more!

More information will be added to this page and on social media as the event nears.

Cost: FREE (attendance limited)

You’ll learn

  • How to focus on prioritizing your mental health
  • How to approach finances as an artistic professional
  • How to advocate for yourself
  • Lessons from the careers of Hollywood’s backdrop artists

Register Here

Date: Saturday, May 20, 2023

Time: Begins 10am PT / 11am MT / 12pm CT / 1pm ET

Duration: Approx. 4 hours (come and go as you please)

A recording of the webinar will be made available to Guild members on our website after the event.

2023 Webinar Summit (2)

About the Sessions

Art as a Business, by Anna Robb

A lot of the time we finish our arts degrees and head out into the workforce with little idea of how to run a business, manage our finances and promote ourselves in the workplace. Anna Robb has lived in 4 continents, worked in over 26 countries and has sustained a career in the arts in multiple tax structures, with local and international companies, in freelance and full time roles. In this session, she will talk about Professional Growth, Networking, Skill Acquisition, Self Employment, Marketing Yourself, Business Infrastructure and Financial Management. Come jam about all the fundamental aspects of keeping yourself in the business of art!


Taking Charge of Your Self-Care: Sustainable Solutions for the Freelance Artist, by Jennifer Ivey

Theatre professionals, in particular, are notorious for not taking care of themselves or meeting even their basic human needs under the pressure of a deadline. Especially as a freelance artist, your body and mind are your livelihood; it is important to remember that food and sleep are not optional, and yet we opt out all the time. Your brain is a temperamental jelly ball of neurons controlling a delicately powered meat suit; if you neglect it you’ll lose executive function and efficiency far faster than you realize. In this webinar, we’ll talk about why paying attention to your wellness is important for your own health, safety, productivity, and mental well-being. We will explore how you can navigate self-care physically and mentally in a productive way to help avoid burnout, protect your body, and get good rest. This presentation focuses on practical and actionable strategies you can implement in your life and professional career.


Cultivating Nourishment: Inspiration from Hollywood’s Artists, by Karen Maness

After miles and miles of woodgrain, it can be easy to lose sight of inspiration. For this session, we wanted to program a little beauty into our day by examining mid-century Hollywood motion picture scenic art practices that were developed to read as “real” for the eye of the camera. Join Karen as she shares some of her favorite images and stories from her research… perhaps you’ll find something to inspire you!


Know Your Value, by Diane Fargo

“If you are not at the table you are on the menu”…You must be part of the conversation.

One of the important parts of a healthy career as a Scenic Artist is understanding your role within the larger production team. In this session, Diane will lead us through a variety of real world situations as we discuss how to navigate the varied landscape of the Entertainment Industry. 

Note: This session is more of a roundtable, so attendees are welcome to bring examples to use as part of the discussion. To submit a scenario for consideration ahead of time, please email

Meet the Presenters

Jennifer Ivey

Jennifer is a passionate and dedicated theatre educator who has worked around the country as a designer, scenic artist, prop master, and teacher.



Jennifer Rose Ivey is a passionate and dedicated theatre artist who has worked around the country as a designer, scenic charge artist, prop designer, and educator. She has run paint shops for summer stock, professional theatre, and education, and she currently teaches at Florida International University as an assistant professor in scenic design teaching a variety of design and technology courses. Jennifer is an active member of several regional, national, and international theatre organizations where she regularly presents in workshops, and serves as a professional adjudicator. You can find examples of her work at

Karen Maness

Karen is the co-author of the award-winning The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop. She advocates for the mastery of painting skills to communicate in physical, virtual, augmented, and mixed realities. She has worked in many areas of the industry.

Karen L. Maness is an Assistant Professor of Practice at The University of Texas at Austin and Associate Director of the Fabrication Studios at Texas Performing Arts. Her research centers on Hollywood motion picture scenic artists and their studio art practices. She is the co-author of The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, 2016 (ReganArts) and co-curator of the 2022 world premiere Boca Raton Museum of Art exhibition Art of the Hollywood Backdrop: Cinema’s Creative Legacy. Dedicated to preserving painting as a language, Maness teaches painting and visual communication to digital and analog artists through observational painting and Hollywood motion picture scenic art history. A practicing studio and scenic artist, Maness has served as Commissioner of Scenic Design and Technology, Director for the United States Institute of Theatre Technology, and a USA Delegate to OISTAT. In addition, she has served as an exhibition consultant to The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Museum.

Diane Fargo

Diane has taught at Boston University since 2001. Diane has an MFA in Theater Design from Brandeis University. She has worked for many reputable designers on productions for theaters nationwide.

Diane Fargo has been teaching at Boston University since 2001 where she mentors a 2yr. Scene Painting Certificate Program now in its 15th year. Diane has shepherded approx. 30 students through the program. Most graduates are working in professional settings in various capacities and the majority are now members in USA 829. Diane has worked as a freelance scenic artist for 38 yrs. in many regional theaters, Broadway and Off Broadway, Corporate events and Store displays. Diane was the Charge Artist at Goodspeed Musicals for 20 years. She has taught special seminars and classes at a variety of educational institutions, regional theaters and conservatory-like programs. She has acted as a consultant for Paint Products for Rosco Labs for many years. Instructor at Cobalt Studios over 15 yrs. Diane has an MFA in Theater Design from Brandeis University.

Anna Robb

Anna is Co-Founder and Managing Director for TheatreArtLife. Anna holds a honors degree in Design for Theatre and Television and is passionate about the evolution of the industry.

Anna Robb is an experienced Producer /Chief Operating Officer. Her 23 year work history spans Asia Pacific, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. She has worked for companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Franco Dragone Entertainment Group, Christie Digital Systems and The Sydney Opera House. Anna was an integral part of the research and development, training and formation, creation and operation of the 250 million dollar aquatic show, The House of Dancing Water in Macau. The House of Dancing Water ran successfully for 10 years in a new market and at a profit of 10 Million dollars per year. She also maintained the daily operations of this complex show  for 7 years. Anna has been employed in the areas of concerts, arena events, corporate events, trade shows, musical theatre, plays, dance, circus, outdoor festivals and mega shows. Anna holds a honours degree in Design for Theatre and Television and is also the Co-Founder and Managing Director for TheatreArtLife, an online platform for entertainment industry professionals.

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