Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year

I thought about doing a looking forward blog or a looking backward blog or a best of or worst of blog…but decided instead to just do a thanks for this great job blog. It is an awesome privilege to work with all of you and an honor to represent you. Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year. Stay safe and keep up the good work.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Upcoming Panel Discussion

You're invited to join us for this FREE upcoming panel discussion.

The Incredible Shrinking Media and What It Means For Your Arts Organization
Presented by Community Media Workshop and the League of Chicago Theatres
Are you noticing the more press releases you send out the less arts coverage you see in the news? As media shrinks and newsrooms become understaffed the arts become more underrepresented in traditional media. Join us in a discussion with media experts Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago, Catey Sullivan of Examiner.com, Scarlett Swerdlow of the IL Arts Alliance and moderated by Gordon Mayer of Community Media Workshop. They will share their insights on the trend of shifting media and new online alternatives to help your arts organization reach new audiences and increasing your visibility using new online media.
Date: Thursday, January 15, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Columbia College Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, 8th Fl.
RSVP to diana@newstips.org or 312-369-7783.
Space is limited so register today!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sunday Morning

Turn your radio to WGN 720 this Sunday morning December 21 at about 10:15 a.m. to hear League Executive Director Deb Clapp talk about holiday shows and other things Chicago theater. Listen online at www.wgnradio.com.

Have a safe and warm weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Take Action

By Ben Thiem, Director of Member Services

The arts policy statement that was submitted to the Obama transition team by a group of arts service organizations has been posted online at the Obama transition website and is open for comment. The website is excellent and opens the door for everyone to be an active part of this new administration. I urge you to read the document and share your thoughts and comments. If we want the arts to be a priority with the new administration we need to make sure that our voices are heard! Let's not forgot all of the enthusiasm and excitement we felt last month. Go to the website and take action now!

Panel Discussion Tonight!

Collaboraction, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the League of Chicago Theatres invite you to a reception and panel discussion with Philip Himberg, Producing Artistic Director of the Sundance Institute TONIGHT, Thursday, December 18, Reception with drinks and hors d'oeuvres, 5:30 PM. Panel discussion begins at 6:20 PM.

National and International Influences on and by Chicago Theatre: how does Chicago theatre and our artists affect and influence the way theatre is created outside Chicago and how do artists and influences from outside Chicago affect and influence our work.

Panelists include: Henry Godinez, Resident Artistic Associate, Goodman Theatre and Associate Professor, Northwestern University; Philip Himberg, Jim Lasko, Artistic Director, Redmoon Theater; Bonnie Metzgar, Artistic Director, About Face Theatre.

This event is free and open to Chicago's theatre community. Please join us at The Building Stage, 412 N. Carpenter, RSVP to ben@chicagoplays.com.
The panel discussion will be followed by an 8 PM performance of Collaboraction's production of JON. Tickets for JON may be purchased at the door for the industry price of $15.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Comedy...Take it Seriously

By Deb Clapp, Executive Director

I was thinking about this panel we’re doing next week and thinking about Chicago influences on the wider world and more specifically what we as a community “export.” I asked myself what we have the biggest influence on and the answer I came up with…comedy…not exactly a revelation but…comedy is theatre. I think we have a lot to learn from that segment of our community, especially improv. What can we learn from Second City where they have slowly but surely built an empire over the last 50 years from their always slightly shady digs at 1616 North Wells? What can we learn from the smallest of improv companies being invited to comedy festivals all over the world? No, we can’t re-write our plays so that they more accurately reflect current events, but…how can we use that incredibly nimble and responsive way of working in other ways? How can we quickly change and adapt to rapidly evolving economics, demographics, tastes and styles and yet be sure we always stay who we are at our core?

For me, as the leader of the League, the question becomes how can we take the idea of Chicago theatre and make it as strong a brand as second city comedy (and I mean second city lower case)? Most of us have the slightly shady digs thing down, but as we think about ourselves and others think about us as the best theatre town in the world, how do we communicate that simply, how do we take over 200 theatres (including comedy theatres) with 200 missions and communicate to the world one message about Chicago theatre? I don’t think anyone ever set out to brand Chicago comedy, so maybe it is something that evolves. Maybe the message is already there and we just need to corral it and use it to our advantage. Any ideas?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Eventful Evenings

By Ben Thiem, Director of Member Services

During the last month or so you may have noticed that we’ve held a lot of events, roundtables, meetings, and other community gatherings. While they’ve each had their own purpose, they’ve all served as an opportunity to catch up with you after a busy fall season and hear firsthand how you’re doing. We’ve noticed a strong desire recently for people to gather, share resources and provide each other support. I think this sense of collaboration is really inspiring and part of what makes our community so unique. Just this week, Victory Gardens and Adventure Stage announced a fantastic partnership for a few holiday workshop events. I love hearing about these kinds of collaborations.

Earlier this week was our second Emerging Theater Roundtable event. We started this group to provide more professional development opportunities for our many emerging theater companies, which make up about 2/3 of our total membership. Regardless of your budget size, we welcome you to attend any of these events. On Monday, consultant Julia Perkins from MBMD Consultants led a presentation and discussion on the topic of board development with Malik Gillani, Executive Director of Silk Road Theatre Project and his board chair Frank Buttitta. I think it was a very valuable event and I encourage you to listen to it and check out some of the other materials and resources distributed to the attendees. The next roundtable will take place in early 2009. If you have any ideas or thoughts about future event topics please feel free to comment and share them here.

In November we held a Theater Dish event at Raven Theatre. The Dish included a panel discussion on the topic of reaching local audiences and partnering with neighborhood businesses. Our distinguished panelists included Jay Kelly from Victory Gardens, Milan Pejnovich from Court Theatre, and Zena Vaughn from Raven. It was very clear following the discussion that the issue of reaching neighborhood audiences is intimately related to the importance of making partnerships with other neighborhood restaurants and organizations and being a visible entity in your community. I encourage you to listen to that discussion as well and hear about all the great work that these companies are doing. The advice they offer is valuable to any theater, regardless of whether they have their own venue or not.

And if you aren’t tired of seeing me yet, we have one more event before the new year which is an Executive Director Roundtable on Monday, December 15 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Lookingglass Theatre’s offices, 875 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2200. Please RSVP to ben@chicagoplays.com. We hope to see you there or at another event in the near future.