As I walked into the lobby of TCG’s office building last week, I was greeted by the wonderful surprise of a three-piece jazz band playing. This pop-up event was part of The September Concert, an annual celebration around September 11th of peace and humanity through free music events in unlikely locales. People eating nearby looked up from their salads and devices, and the gravitational pull to the music formed a semicircle of listeners with the musicians jamming away at the center.
The idea of a “center” is on my mind lately, and not only in remembrance of the tragic events that happened twelve years ago last week. I recently journeyed to my home state of Maryland and the Olney Theatre Center (OTC), where I attended a celebration of and performance by OTC’s 65-year old touring company, the National Players. I also attended a performance of Hamlet by the New York-based Bedlam Theatre, a rehearsal of Rancho Mirage by Steven Dietz—part of a National New Play Network “Rolling World Premiere”—and visited with trustees and supporters. Led by new artistic director Jason Loewith and managing director Amy Marshall, OTC feels like the center of a national flow of work and conversation.
I also recently learned from Jim Houghton that the Signature Theatre Company’s new Pershing Square Signature Center—with its soaring lobby open to the public all day–has become a gathering center for artists incubating ideas for new work, production teams holding design meetings, and well, anyone with a desire to be in a comfortable place (with Wi-Fi and coffee) that isn’t called Starbucks. That dream of a center—of a common civic ground with room to hold all our differences—is nurtured and perhaps fulfilled by many of our theatres.
The challenge, as ever, is financially supporting these centers with enough resources so that they may weather crisis, respond to opportunity, and thrive. Capitalization is a central focus of our 2013 TCG Fall Forum on Governance: Investing in Vitality, and to shape our programming to fit your needs, we want to know what specific capitalization challenges and opportunities you are most interested in exploring. Are you:
- Building cash reserves to support artistic risk-taking?
- Embarking on your first endowment campaign?
- Facing a cash flow crisis?
- Recovering from the stresses of a building renovation campaign?
The more we know about your capitalization needs, the better we can craft responsive and impactful programming to meet them. Email me your thoughts, and don’t miss the scholarship deadline the early bird deadline on 9/27.
At the Fall Forum, we’ll also be discussing the results of the 2013 Governing Boards Survey, which we are conducting for the first time since 2007. We’ve extended the deadline to Friday, September 27. I strongly encourage you to participate so that we may take a fully-informed look at the current state of boards, and collectively imagine new ways to strengthen those essential relationships. Please contact Ilana Rose for more information and the survey link.
Finally, I also want to remind you that the deadline for the Audience (R)Evolution Grant Program is September 23rd at noon ET—contact Artistic Programs with any questions. This program will support TCG Member Theatres with (Re)Modeling and (Re)imagining their audience engagement and community development practices to become ever more vital centers of their community.