Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tis' the Season

It's that time of year again, a time for reflecting, a time for giving and a time for looking ahead. Bear with me as I touch on subjects that aren't specifically "Tech Talk" but do impact what I do and will serve as a platform for future segments.

As I reflect on the past year, the first thing that comes to mind is how difficult a time it was for Theatre Charlotte, as well as many other arts organizations and non-profits. In the past year, we saw a significant drop in contributions to the ASC fund drive which in turn impacted nearly every group that the ASC supports. Theatre Charlotte, already dealing with financial challenges and bare bone production costs, had to yet again slash its meager budget. The challenge has been to continue to meet and surpass audience expectations without letting them know that you are working with every scrap of wood that can be found and that every cent spent from the budget could be the last one. As a former boss said to me,"It's like making chicken salad." On the plus side, I still have a job, my wife still has a job and we both have a place that allows us to do what we are passionate about.

Also looking back, I see the dream of moving this great organization to a better place all but come to an end. Upon taking this position, the staff and board of directors were a buzz with ideas and expectations of moving into a new facility that would take this 82 year old organization into a new age of community theatre and ensure its longevity and stature in the community. Exciting for me, a chance to be a part of something special and put my name in the history book of this organization. A real boost for my career...not so fast. I remain optimistic that we can turn the corner and establish longevity for this theatre, perhaps right where this building currently sits. I also think about the new faces I have seen on this stage over the past year, all of the volunteers that I have worked with and the patrons I have met and I am glad that we have a place to call home. More on that in a minute.

Finally, I look back and think about the past year on stage. While the building continues to fall to pieces around us, we have managed to produce some outstanding theatre. One highlight that comes to mind is The Full Monty, a monstrous undertaking technically, a risky show for this community theatre but a hit with audiences and it set a new level for what we can do here. While not as much of a financial success, I also have to rank Woman in Black up there as a highlight of what I have been able to do here. This past year has also brought us a fantastic partnership with the Charlotte Film Society and introduced our community to some great events at Theatre Charlotte, like our Wine, Chocolate and Murder Mystery on Valentine's Day, our Junior Cabaret event that showcases some of the best young talent from near and far, New Year's Eve Celebration and our musical movie series highlighted by The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

So now is also a time for giving. By this time, I think most people are probably sick of being asked to give, give, give, so I won't dwell on this too long. This past year, and I can probably speak for the entire staff when I say that, we have made a lot of sacrifices to get us to this point. We have given up benefits, pay and days off to make sure that we and people in this community have a place to do theatre. In return, I have been given friendships, too many laughs to count and moments that have brought tears to my eyes. This truly is the gift of theatre and the arts and if you don't think that your donation (no matter how big or small) counts, you are mistaken. The gift of theatre provides our children, grand children, friends and neighbors a chance to express themselves, a chance to try something new, and an opportunity to make friendships that last a lifetime. For two hours, actors, technicians, volunteers and patrons come together as one to create a once in a lifetime experience that will never be duplicated, no matter how many times a show is performed. That is the beauty of live theatre!

Now, as I look ahead into the unknown, we will continue to face tough decisions and challenges in the upcoming year. My hope, my goal, is to inspire and challenge myself and others to not let the economy be an excuse any more. To take the bull by the horn and make something happen. There is tremendous opportunity out there and we need to embrace it. If you are reading this, then you probably already support Theatre Charlotte and what we do, so to you my challenge is to introduce new people to the experience here. Convince your friends, family, councilman, teachers, financial advisor, whoever it is you come in contact with, convince them to invest in theatre. Turn them onto the experience of live theatre and let them know how important it is to have a community theatre, such as ours, in this city you call home. Have a safe Holiday season and see you in 2010.