Wednesday, March 25, 2009


By Ben Thiem, Director of Member Services

I am writing this post from the city of Boston, where for the next few days I am at the annual Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO) conference. The APASO conference is an annual gathering of performing arts service organizations from across the US and Canada to share best practices, challenges and successes, and discuss how we can best serve our constituents and collaborate nationally to advance the performing arts. There are representatives from all across the United States and Canada including Theatre Bay Area, Theatre Puget Sound, Austin Circle of Theatres, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, Atlanta Coalition for the Performing Arts, Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, Theatre Communications Group, and Theatre Development Fund to name a few. This is my fourth APASO conference, so I know the staff at many of the other organizations pretty well now and it feels a bit like a family reunion when we gather again each year.

It's an exciting and intense three days full of group discussions, breakout sessions, panels and speakers. The conference provides an opportunity to reflect on what we're currently doing at the League and do some big picture thinking about the future. I always leave APASO feeling rejuvinated and filled with new ideas to bring back to Chicago. While each city and performing arts community is unique, we share many commonalities and the need for us to gather and share knowledge and resources is important and valuable, especially in these challenging times.

If you are interested in some of the topics that we'll be discussing, follow us on Twitter the next few days and I will see you back in Chicago.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Resource Sharing – Hot Topic

On Monday the League will be hosting a discussion on resource sharing. There will be a panel discussion followed by a community brainstorming session. I think this is a starting point for discussions about new models of operating, and new ways of cooperating and sharing. There are a lot of interesting things already beginning to happen. I think that now is the time for us to examine our operating models and look for what could best serve us now and in the future. I know many of you have interesting ideas. Please join us.

The panel will consist of: Lane Alexander, co-founder and director of Chicago Human Rhythm Project was a member of Arts Bridge and is currently working on new resource sharing projects. Suellen Burns, former executive director of Arts Bridge from 1996 to 2000. Arts Bridge was the nation’s first incubator for the arts. Housed at the Atheneum, Arts Bridge served a large number of performing arts organizations. Ivan Sygoda, director of Pentacle in New York. Pentacle provides a wide variety of services to artists and arts organization including grant writing, fiscal administration, and a help desk. Pentacle largely serves the dance community.

The event will take place on Monday, March 23 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the DCA's Storefront Theater, 66 E Randolph. RSVP to to attend.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

World Theatre Day Proclamation

By Ben Thiem, Director of Member Services

There is a lot going on this week with the Chicago Producing Intensive Conference starting tomorrow morning, but I wanted to give one exciting update on World Theatre Day. Mayor Richard M. Daley issued an official proclamation that March 27, is World Theatre Day in Chicago. We are very grateful for his support and encouragement of our community as we participate in this event for the first time.

Read the entire proclamation here.

We hope that you are planning on joining the celebration in some capacity at your own theatre. Not sure how to participate?

Click here for a list of suggestions.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chicago Celebrates World Theatre Day

By Ben Thiem, Director of Member Services

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how we were having an exploratory meeting to discuss Chicago’s participation in World Theatre Day. To follow up, we had an excellent meeting with about a dozen companies and came up with a lot of great ideas. Some of which we will be able to implement this year and many others that we’ll look to bring to the table next year and beyond. What we all agreed on was that it was important for Chicago to be a part of this international festival. Thanks to all those that attended the meeting. Your enthusiasm and commitment to Chicago theatre is greatly appreciated. We are excited to participate in this international program for the first time. Check out our World Theatre Day page on for all this information and more.

To summarize our plan for March 27, 2009:
The League is going to help promote all the WTD activities as well as encourage theatre participation. We are excited to report that we will be getting a Mayoral proclamation of WTD. The Chicago celebration will culminate with a party in association with the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, following performances on the 27th. All Chicago theater patrons, artists and administrators are invited to attend this free event.

Chicago theatres are invited and encouraged to participate in a number of ways.

Chicago theatre patrons are encouraged to attend a performance on March 27. Click here to see all the shows playing on World Theatre Day.

Every year a renowned theater artist is asked to write a message for World Theatre Day. The 2009 World Theatre Day message was written by Augusto Boal, Brazilian director, writer and founder of Theatre of the Oppressed. Participating theatres are encouraged to read the statement before or after their performance that evening. The full statement can be found here.

Download a WTD program insert to include in your program book on March 27.

For More Information:

International Theatre Institute

World Theatre Day on Facebook

World Theatre Day on Twitter

World Theatre Day on Tumblr

World Theatre Day Blog

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chicago Producing Intensive

Next Friday through Sunday (March 13-15) the League will be partnering with the Commercial Theater Institute to present the first Chicago Producing Intensive. This three day program has been presented by CTI in New York for almost 30 years. The Chicago producing intensive has been designed with Chicago theatre in mind. I would like to encourage you all to come to this great program if you can.

It is not ONLY about commercial producing, many of the skills and techniques that apply to commercial producing apply to non-profits as well. The topics are wide ranging and include: Legal Aspects of Producing, Production Budget Analysis, envisioning a producing plan, co-production agreements, how to develop work, etc., etc. It will be an interesting, informative and inspiring three days. There are fourteen topics covered in all. There will also be plenty of opportunity for socializing and networking.

There will be 21 speakers and panelists representing an extraordinary array of experience in the American theatre. They include some Chicago professionals, such as: Stuart Oken, Elephant Eye Productions; Roche Schulfer, Goodman Theatre, Beth Rohlmeier, Broadway in Chicago; and people from New York, such as: Tom Viertel, Scorpio Entertainment; Jack Viertel, Jujamcyn Theatres; and Roy Gabay; Roy Gabay Productions.

We have extended the early bird price of $250 for League members. This is almost half off the regular price.