“But I realized I couldn’t do anything without the support of the insurance people. Many were helpful but I couldn’t get anywhere with Aetna and its head Olcott Smith. So I paid his chauffeur $20 just to let me sit in the back seat of his car and when Smith got in, there I was. He said, ‘What are you doing? Get out of my car!’ I told him I had this idea for a theater and he said, ‘So you’re the guy who’s been trying to get to me?’ I said, ‘Please let me stay in the car until the next traffic light and then I’ll get out.’ He said all right so there I was talking a mile a minute putting my best ideas forward and we get to the next light and he doesn’t say anything and we keep on going. And through other lights, too. We finally got to his house, he invited me in, mixed me a martini, gave me a check for the theater and put his wife on the board.”
-Jacques Cartier on the founding of Hartford Stage, (emphasis mine), Hartford Courant
While car-jacking may no longer be a viable option for capitalizing our theatres, the boldness that fueled Cartier’s pitch—and so many of our founders’ visions—remains essential. I heard this story at a panel discussion several weeks back at Hartford Stage with past and current artistic and managing leaders Cartier, David Hawkanson, Mark Lamos, Michael Stotts and Darko Tresnjak. Hartford Stage is one of many theatres celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year, making for an opportune moment to draw inspiration from that founding brashness.
That energy will be particularly import to address two longstanding challenges for our field: capitalization, and diversity and inclusion. These were our areas of focus at the sold-out TCG Fall Forum on Governance: Investing in Vitality. There was a palpable honesty and a focus on action steps in the room, as together we confronted the existential interconnectedness of properly capitalizing our theatres’ financial health, and advancing diversity and inclusive practices in our field. Read my closing remarks here for more on what these three days meant, and check out our resource page here, which includes the much-lauded presentation, “A Conversation about Capitalization” (PDF). As we worked towards a better world for theatre…
…we work for a better world because of theatre. According to the Asia Society’s Global Leadership Initiative, Typhoon Haiyan has adversely affected 11.8 million people in the Philippines. 12,000 people have been injured, 921,000 people have been displaced from their homes, and the United Nations estimates that 3 million dollars is needed immediately for rebuilding essential infrastructure. Theatres have begun to respond, with The Public Theatre, Ma-Yi Theatre Company’s Ralph Peña and Intersection for the Arts’ Sean San José exploring and launching fundraising efforts. The U.S. Philippine Society has a vetted list of relief organizations, and $40 can feed a family of five for a week.