A Piece Of The Education Centerpiece

by August Schulenburg

in Interviews

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We’re sharing a piece of  TCG’s  Education Centerpiece , which includes statistical data from our annual Education Survey and spotlights the breakthroughs that came out of our TEAM (Theatre Education Assessment Models) 2010 Pre-Conference in Chicago.

One of the tactics discussed was guiding education directors toward developing valid and reliable conclusions and reports. This is a natural next step after collecting raw assessment data, and one which will be equally helpful for education directors and their colleagues in development. With this in mind, the Goodman Theatre’s Willa J. Taylor came up with the following top ten list of suggestions for her education colleagues, and we’re sharing it with you to whet your appetite for the full Centerpiece!

What advice would you give to your fellow education and development directors in regards to forming an effective partnership between the two departments?

Willa J. Taylor: Here are my top ten suggestions for having harmony and getting cash:

1) Always remember that the work on stage comes first and be supportive of all fundraising efforts, whether they directly benefit your education programs or not. Have a presence at board meetings, opening nights and other Devo events. It’s a great way to develop personal relationships with funders.

2)  Have a clear understanding that programming dictates fundraising and not the other way around. Don’t let them create programs just to tap into funding possibilities.

3) Involve students in Devo events whenever possible. It’s a personal connection for the funder and a learning opportunity for the student.

4)  Make sure you control the language and message.

5)  Thank Devo for what they do. Baked goods go a long way at the Goodman!

6)  Thank the individual donors who give you money. It doesn’t matter if it is $5 from telemarketing or $50,000 from a Devo contact; a handwritten note from me goes a long way and it makes Devo look good.

7)  We asked Devo to tell us what information they need to report, then built our applications and surveys to collect that data. The info lives in a shared file they can access and we can update.

8)  Help Devo see the bigger picture. Give them cheat sheets on public education, arts and the brain, and the field at large.  The more educated they are, the better they can advocate.

9)  Keep Devo informed and never let them get blindsided.

10)  Celebrate the wins, commiserate the losses, and always be grateful for Devo’s efforts.

Interest peaked? Then click here to learn more about TCG’s Education Centerpiece.


Willa J. Taylor is the Director of Education and Community Engagement for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. She has worked as producer, production coordinator, and stage manager, for theatre, opera, radio and television.  Prior to coming to Chicago, she spent nine years as Education Director at Lincoln Center Theatre in New York, where she also designed education programming for the inaugural season of the New Victory Theater and for the Broadway production of The Diary of Anne Frank starring Natalie Portman. As Cultural Director for Gay Games IV, Ms Taylor oversaw the production of more than 200 cultural events during the 16-day festival, including the Broadway premiere of Sir Ian McKellen’s A Knight Out, and a work commissioned especially for the Festival from Bill T. Jones. A US Navy veteran, Ms Taylor has an MFA in Film from American University and a culinary degree from Kendall College.