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 We hope to see you there or at another event in the near future.

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