Happy New Year!
I am so grateful that I get to welcome you to 2018.
What an incredible journey it’s been so far for me, as I celebrate my first anniversary at TCG as deputy director and chief operating officer. I continue to learn so much from all of you. Thank you!
How did 2017 fly by so quickly? Some of the highlights this past year included our National Conference, which brought more than 1,000 people from across the country (and world) to Portland, Ore.; the Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project, which chronicled and celebrated nine founding leaders of theatres of color; federal-level advocacy that is helping sustain funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and preserve incentives for charitable giving; grantmaking that supported leadership development, as well as audience- and community-development strategies; our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Initiative to transform the national theatre field; our books program, which now includes 15 Pulitzer Prize winners, ensuring that students and the public can access new plays by leading playwrights; and research for and about the U.S. nonprofit theatre field that helps it to assess and meet the changing needs and conditions of the theatre community. Whew! No wonder 2017 flew by; we’ve been busy.
As we enter 2018 with resilience and hope for a realized vision—a better world for theatre, and a better world because of theatre—we are ever more committed to building a world-class TCG that continues to imbue all our work with the values of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Artistry, Activism, and Global Citizenship. As the national service organization for the nonprofit American theatre, with a membership retention rate of 93 percent, we continue to list member satisfaction and field-wide impact as being critical drivers of success.
But are we asking the right questions? In the private sector, leaders think of customers and a profit goal. At an association like TCG, we think of our members and strive to reach a service goal. As we aim for extraordinary service, we will continue to ask: Is this activity useful for the member? Do they want/need it? And will they truly value it? How is TCG answering these needs, and how can we be best aligned to do so?
One way is through our Programming Council, formed to solicit, field, and respond to these questions. And it’s showing up in programming at our National Conference (June 14-16, St. Louis), Fall Forum on Governance, webinars, and teleconferences.
We continue to build a stronger field by also investing inside TCG, recruiting a staff and board reflective of our beautifully diverse sector. And as we work to retain our membership levels, we also prioritize staff retention by continuing to build an inclusive TCG and lifting up key strategies to grow and innovate.
How can we get more people involved in theatre? How do we inspire people? How can we translate the impact of theatre across sectors and disciplines? One such investment is aligning our marketing efforts to raise the valuation of not only TCG’s programs within the theatre field, but championing the not-for-profit theatre to our broader culture.
Also: capitalization. How to make sure we have the resources to do what we want to do, when we want to do it? Fundraising is not a one-size-fits-all activity (we’ve got an entire issue on this topic next month). We are all undeniable champions of our work, and we all do it differently. What’s important is to recognize the various entry points into our programs for individuals and foundations, and to realize the importance of building meaningful and authentic relationships with appropriate follow-up. As fundraisers we’re on the front lines of our organizations, and it is my belief that success is possible when efforts are focused and a strong rapport is built based on trust, respect, and transparency.
To that end, we’ve reimagined our approach to fundraising by creating two separate departments: one focused on individual giving and special events, and the other focused on increasing income from foundations and strategic partnerships. By refocusing our fundraising efforts, we are confident that TCG will be better positioned for success in fundraising and financial stability, and meeting the needs of the sector.
Innovation is also key. What is our commitment to experimentation, and to leading the field in this area? How do we make our work agile, responsive to the changing needs of our field? I was particularly inspired by EmcArts’ presentation of Adaptive Leadership at our Fall Forum this past November, which challenged us move beyond traditional leadership models to more collaborative approaches.
This kind of examination is making me look at my own leadership, and how I might test small experiments to explore this model. We all work with smart and passionate people, with unique journeys to this work. Let’s tap into all that knowledge and perspective, and leverage it to make the field better, helping us get one step closer to realizing our vision: a better world for theatre, and a better world because of theatre.
On behalf of everyone at TCG, I want to thank you for all your continued support. We never lose sight that we could not publish this magazine or do this work without you.
Have a wonderful, happy, and prosperous 2018!