Thursday, August 27, 2009

Goals for Chicago Theatre

Over at The New Colony Blog they have a conversation going on about Goals for Chicago Theatre. I think it’s a very interesting conversation and would love to hear from more people about what you think the goals are or should be for Chicago Theatre. Apparently Time Out New York printed a goals for New York Theatre which started the whole thing. The New Colony is planning a “storefront summit,” which I think is a great idea, we will certainly be there, will you? Someone else suggested to me this week that there be more events where people just get together – a “beer summit,” I wonder if people would be interested in that, just getting together and meeting on a regular basis at a bar or something. The League does host Managing/Executive Director Roundtables, but maybe something more informal and more inclusive of artistic directors. And, on that note, all of you who open this email and are still reading – thanks. Any suggestions on how we could reach more people would be much appreciated. While we feel like we reach a good portion of our community we would like to reach everyone, there are so many of us and we feel like we are underrepresented at so many events. Any ideas?

Thursday, August 20, 2009


The following quote was passed along to me by Ian Belknap at Writers' (who gave an awesome talk on grantwriting to our emerging theatres on Monday) and I thought it was so inspiring I wanted to share it with you, unfortunately I can’t find any links to the entire speech.

“Sometimes we choose to serve our country in uniform, in war. Sometimes in elected office. And those are the ways of serving our country that I think we are trained to easily call heroic. It’s also a service to your country, I think, to teach poetry in the prisons, to be an incredibly dedicated student of dance, to fight for funding music and arts education in the schools. A country without an expectation of minimal artistic literacy, without a basic structure by which the artists among us can be awakened and given the choice of following their talents and a way to get to be great at what they do, is a country that is not actually as great as it could be. And a country without the capacity to nurture artistic greatness is not being a great country. It is a service to our country, and sometimes it is heroic service to our country, to fight for the United States of America to have the capacity to nurture artistic greatness.”

--MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, speaking at Jacob’s Pillow

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Free Month

We’re going to do Free Month of Theater again this October and the whole point of Free Month is to attract NEW patrons to the theatre. So, what do we do? How do we get to the people who don’t go to theatre but who maybe might try it for free? Where are those people who might be most interested in watching baseball or playing volleyball or shooting skeet but who might also like to try something new? What is a good way to reach them through the internet? Naturally, we can’t afford to do an ad on the White Sox website (if they even sell ads), there must be something we can do to get those folks who might crossover and give us a try. If we can come up with an idea, this might be a breakthrough for all of us. Last year over 6000 tickets were distributed during Free Month, 83% of those people said they had never been to the theatre they attended before and 43% said they bought a ticket after attending. Those are fantastic numbers, but we want to go even better than that. We want to make theatre goers out of non theatre goers. Anybody have any ideas? Are there networking websites we don’t know about? We thought of, and some of the others, but there’s always a snag, i.e. linked in doesn’t do ads and all of our connections are arts folks. It needs to be far away from what we usually do – not arts groups, but other groups, sports groups, dog lover groups, that kind of thing.

Any ideas? Lemme know.


Thursday, August 6, 2009


Cliff Stearns in an open letter to NEA Acting Chair Patrice Walker Powell, “The fundamental question is why is the federal government supporting artists that the taxpayers have refused to support in the open marketplace?” The man is opposed to arts funding and he uses the rest of the letter to play on people’s hate and fear by letting them know that the NEA spent .002% ($100,000) of the $50,000,000 they received in stimulus money on organizations that have produced or presented art that he (and the other signers of the letter and presumably his constituents) finds objectionable. If only all of our federal spending was looked at with that kind of scrutiny.

I find his voting record not just “abhorrent,” “offensive” and “antithetical to our values and culture,” but unconscionable. But I digress. Ummm…billions of dollars have been spent to bail out car companies whose products I can only assume taxpayers have refused to support in the open market place. I guess Mr. Stearns doesn’t find that so objectionable that he needs to write an open letter. I won’t get into what people need more. To be against federal arts funding is to be against art; is to not acknowledge the millions of arts workers in this country; is to be against the billions of dollars that the arts puts back into our economy every year. To turn art over to the marketplace is to silence the voices of those who cannot compete in the marketplace. If we turn art over to the marketplace it is only for people who can afford it (and believe me that will be very few if we don’t have any public support). We owe art to everybody, even those who can’t afford it. We owe it to the taxpayers who do want to hear voices speak not only the language of their own soul, but the language of other souls so that we may better understand each other.