To kick off my column for this issue, I just want to say how excited I am for this upcoming season for the American theatre. The range and diversity of its offerings was highlighted in our last issue. I am also prompted to say that TCG has unveiled its own season, and it includes our upcoming Fall Forum on Governance and annual Gala.
Starting on Nov. 10, hundreds of trustees and theatre leaders will gather in New York City for our Fall Forum on Governance, with the theme “Turning the Tide.” Together we will engage with thought leaders like Donna Walker-Kuhne, founder of Walker International Communications Group, and Richard Evans, president of EmcArts, to explore and answer these salient questions: Can the business model of our “theatre nation” stay afloat amid a generational shift in leadership and a (r)evolution in the relationship with our audiences and communities? How can trustees help steer their theatres through uncertain waters to not just survive but thrive?
Before taking a leadership role at TCG, I attended many Fall Forums as a member and trustee. One of my fondest and most significant memories of these gatherings was during the 2015 Fall Forum, when Kaihan Krippendorff, author and business strategist at the consulting firm Outthinker, shared insights into strategic narratives and how to find “The Fourth Option.” According to a 2013 Fast Company article by Krippendorff, people generally confront challenges in one of four ways:
I. One option: You see yourself as a victim, forced to accept the situation.
II. Two options: You have a binary choice, to accept the situation or give up
and run away.
III. Three options: You believe you have a full set of options to choose from, because thinking through all three takes time and effort.
IV. Four options: You think beyond the three “usual” options and see a new way, a new path.
Challenging oneself to think beyond what’s in front of you, outside of the box—to see a fourth option—has been the source and inspiration of my leadership and ability to solve problems. It is in the fourth option, I believe, that you’ll find the most ingenuity and innovative thought. The approach of searching for four options has brought me much success. In my previous role as a managing leader at the Boston company the Theater Offensive, this fourth option helped me innovate fundraising and marketing, resulting in expanding the organization’s profile in the community and building resources for its sustainability, such as retiring debt, growing revenue, and building cash reserves. It’s this thinking that will propel me to work on behalf of the theatre sector to innovate and experiment, and hopefully answer some of the key questions put forth at this year’s Fall Forum.
Bookending the Fall Forum is our Gala on Nov. 13, TCG’s annual fundraiser and party celebrating the artistry and vitality of the American theatre. This year we’re honoring the incredibly talented Phylicia Rashad and Condola Rashad, as well as the National Council for the American Theatre. These honorees have made theatre a family business and have nurtured and strengthened the theatre ecology. Last year was my first time attending the Gala, and although I was on TCG’s staff at the time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was surprised and gratified to experience an evening of precious moments, family, networking, and overall a great night for theatre. This year promises another night to remember.
I hope to see you all during our season. Happy fall!