Thursday, January 27, 2011


Maybe it is the snow day and consequently the amount of free time I had on my hands today, but here are some ideas I want to bounce off of you.

This week I found the door swinging much wider open in Stamford.  They have properties there and the incentive to grow that area.  A commercial realtor has found me a nice place and says there are more old warehouses, etc. that are privately owned and, given the economy, need to move.  Buying or leasing a place is a cost to consider, as well as renovating it.  When she asked me what would be needed, i.e. ceiling height, parking, handicapped, I realized this could all really happen now!

Then I met with Lisa Durkee (producer, entrepreneur and all around cool person). Her son studies voice with me. J  She explained that Stamford is being called “Hollywood East”.  I asked if she made that up because I had never heard that.  But apparently Maury Povich, and other TV/film related things are starting to be shot there, as well as indie film projects, commercials and studios that are springing up.  It makes sense, as it is just 45 minutes from NYC and on the Metronorth train line and next door to Greenwich.

Think about this.  What if we linked arms with the film folks who already have a foothold there?  Bringing in talent that is theatrically trained to add to the pool of growing film folks would be a good thing.  That is why so many companies go to NYC as the pool of talent is larger there.  So… if a city like Stamford is trying rejuvenate their downtown.  If there are privately owned spaces that are good deals in those areas, certainly there must be city-owned properties. And if the city has an interest in improving and becoming something cool, why not build off of the “Hollywood East” idea by joining forces with the budding film folks there?  Why not propose ideas that tie in the local restaurants and businesses that are already in my marketing plan? Why not use all the social media/marketing at my disposal in my plan to push both the theatre folks and the film folks ahead together and in doing so, build a real “Hollywood East”?

Why not have Lisa and I put together a whole web show that is called “Hollywood East” and highlight all that is happening there? Behind the scenes. Not a slick reported show, but the real stuff.  The growth happening.  Feature it on our website. 

Then I thought, the White House has a press corp.  Why can’t we create our own press corps for that area and our “Hollywood East”?  I know enough newspaper reporters and normal media folks.  But more importantly, I can help create bloggers and a ‘press corp’ in that area. Know how?  Colleges.  They are the best at using the Internet to spread ideas right?   So since I just happen to teach at two colleges, I certainly have enough clout to walk into the local colleges and talk to the heads of their marketing/pr departments to propose ideas that would benefit the students, the colleges, and our “Hollywood East” press corp ideas. They actually used something like that as a project to help Habitat for Humanity fund raise at Western Ct State University. I am just taking it a bit further as a ‘project’.  I can offer internships, talks with producers, real experience in their majors as incentives. How easy is that and what a no-brainer for all?  Good PR for the colleges too. Working together we could turn this into a real PR coup for the area.

You know what else? Why wouldn’t it be ok to call us, “The UBS New Paradigm Theatre” if that local big business wanted to be our sponsor to help renovate the place?  What big and small businesses wouldn’t want to be a sponsor if they were advertised on our show and in our huge internet/social media marketing (which keeps garnering me those raised eyebrows).  And the best thing about utilizing the Internet the way it’s supposed to be used (read: NOT like an online newspaper, but a space to share and be intrinsically involved with others) is that it is by and large….free. 

I would love your feedback on the blog and even more, would love you to share this blog with others. I want to walk into those business and be able to say “We have a following of 300 folks already on our blog, don’t you think we can find our audience?”. 

I am sure of it. 

Side note:  here is the link from wickapedia about Hollywood East:

Saturday, January 22, 2011


They had their heart set on that one space in Greenwich and when it fell through, after five years of really good work, they closed up shop…and evidently their hearts went with it.  Stuart was great to speak with this past week, taking at least an hour to give me the details of the failed attempt to start a performing arts center in Greenwich. Understandably he is downhearted.  They had very influential people on their board, which grew to 16 members.

Two things struck me though.  One was the fact that they had to deal with the town government and the townies (as he called the old timers from Greenwich) which can always be challenging.  Second was that he admitted that they didn’t ever consider another building. This one was “town-owned” (so they could get that great one-dollar a year lease that many non profits get). The building was historic and needed renovating and was being used by the Board of Ed. Still is.  They even scoped out places for the Board of Ed to move…but didn’t consider finding another space like that for themselves.  15 million in pledges.  If you are not from around here, Greenwich real estate is astronomically expensive.  Half and hour from NYC and filled with Wallstreet types, high end retailers, some ‘stars’ and old money, among other things.

Our marketing and fund raising ideas were again met with praise.  Sure, some of them are being done on certain levels, but some are unique and were met with lifted eyebrows. I like that look on people. Just trying to explain how interactive our website will be got him excited and he said he had no doubt we would find our audiences. It’s a very integrated system that has to be used as a whole, not just bits and pieces. 

While I do still have an interest in Greenwich and will explore talking to the new task force in which they are actively looking at the “town-owned properties” and trying to decide what to do with them, I also asked him about Stamford, Westchester and Port Chester.  There seem to be more boutique businesses and high-end retailers and private donors in Greenwich.  Whereas in Stamford there are big businesses and a plan to revitalize the downtown.  There may be old warehouses, etc. that could be used.  Perhaps the city will have more options on space. And it’s right next door to Greenwich.   At another event for my Internet marketing business, I met a realtor in Stamford who is very interested in helping me find a space there. 

Space, the final frontier, because once we find that, it will all flow.  But as per the lesson I just learned, I will not let my heart get set on just one place.  I can stay open to other possibilities while still shaking that Greenwich tree. Knocking on doors has just begun.

 I would like to tap into the ‘towncentric’ feel of pride in an area like Greenwich.  “We were the first to create this template that is completely interactive and synergistic with local businesses, non profits and other art’s groups”.  Not sure anyone quite gets that yet. I speak quickly, so it might be worth my while to do some yoga first before presenting my ideas.  J 

Katie is working on a meeting in Westchester with the art center there.  I will explore Stamford and continue research into Greenwich. It was a good lesson to learn this week.  Not getting my heart set could be a very good thing.  Knock, Knock....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I get these messages in my inbox every morning from this great site.

They are tailored to each person.  This one epitomized where we are in this process and was, as always, motivating and inspiring.

"Persistence, Kristin, is not about knocking on one door... until the
dang thing finally opens.

It's about knocking on all of them.

Knock, knock -
    The Universe

Insist on the destination, Kristin, not on how you'll get there."

Thoughts become things... choose the good ones! ®
© ®

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I had a friend who used to call coincidences “Coinky Dinks”.  So that word has been coming to my mind lately regarding this project.

The three main objectives this week were to: 1. Get a bead on Greenwich and what might fly there in terms of a professional theatre. 2. Find a champion of sorts and 3. Research probono lawyers. 

1. While we are still considering a few towns for our project, I must admit to having my heart set on Greenwich.  I have already mentioned that the next man on my agenda to meet, Stuart, (who “knows everything about Greenwich”) was referred by the head of the Greenwich Arts Council.  In a side mention he said that Stuart is on his board and also the ED of the United Way in Greenwich.  Gary, who heads United Way out here in Milford asked me to be on the marketing committee all in that same week and while I was saying yes, I also asked if he would put in the good word with Stuart so I could get an appointment.  Which happened yesterday.  That is booked for Wednesday of this week. 

Coinky Dink?

Objective:  Build a relationship with a person who “knows people”. Especially in Greenwich.  Especially with people who are influential. 

I did a little research on the failed attempt at a Performing Arts Center in Greenwich and here are two stories that talk about the project we are going to ask him about.

2. In putting out the word to get a meeting with Ron Howard or Kathie Lee Gifford (both of whom live in Greenwich) my cousin Jon Huffman (actor/director/writer) reminded me that he wrote the book for the new musical version of It's A Wonderful Life.  Kathie Lee wrote the lyrics and John McDaniel wrote the music.  They are tweaking it now together.

Coinky Dink?

Objective:  Get a possible sit-down with her to get her excited about a theatre “playground” in her own backyard of Greenwich.  Of course I will be hiring Jon for many things as well.  Some sort of endorsement would be awesome in moving forward.

Lovely Lisa Durke researched Ron Howard for me and got his publicist, legal advisors and reminded me that he has a post-production company office in Greenwich. Still looking for a more intimate contact, but it’s a start.

3. Probono partnerships in Westchester was recommended as a place to get some help filing the paperwork.  Yesterday I got the email below from Katie who was researching that aspect in her free time from her job.
 Um, so, my Interim CEO told me today that she signed me up for a web teleconference with PROBONO PARTNERSHIP in early February.

Coinky Dink?
(And also scary that my ED has a maniacal laugh even in emails?) 
But she is really commenting on what keeps happening to us.  These good little things right as we are trying to work on them. A door or window opening up.  
Coinky dinks? Or is it due to the declaration to the Universe that we are ready for this thing to happen. Opening the door for true possibilities that didn’t exist before. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


 “Let’s put on a show!” is not far from how I got the idea to start a professional nonprofit theatre in early December.  I was in a commercial for a bank in Springfield MA, and the actress next to me said “There should be a professional theatre in Greenwich, CT” to which I agreed so much that I set out to make it happen.  As many of you know, I have always had producer blood in me and have been producing shows for nonprofits and special events for about 20 years.  There is an adrenaline rush in putting people together to help other people and then seeing that effort inspire and excite all of the people involved.  I love being a ring leader. 

Someone smart suggested that I blog about it from day one, and as you can see, I am already behind.  But I will catch you up and then continue to keep you posted on the successes and challenges of this endeavor. Perhaps it will give you ideas, or make you laugh, or you might be moved to pass it on to others who will follow and eventually become our audience, donors, or ‘tribe’ as the author Seth Godin suggests. 

You will hear me mention this best selling author and his ideas and books a lot. Much of the marketing that I have come up with is based on the idea of getting “permission” from your “tribe” and to interact with them instead of just shouting at them as per old marketing.   You can even subscribe to his free blog at and get daily marketing ideas like I do. 

Just to catch you up. While most of the blog entries will be short, this one may take a bit more time just to catch you up on a month’s worth of work and meetings.

Katie Hughes is my executive-director-to-be, and our mission statement is in good shape, but could be a bit shorter. If you want to see it, email me. Mostly it states that producing theatre has to be about involving the people “formerly known as the audience” in all aspects of production.  From marketing to performing to production as well as in donating money to the cause.  Although it is my belief that the later will happen naturally when a group is so attached to the cause that they feel they have helped to create it.

The marketing and fund raising for our project is very unique and when we finally have the NPO papers filed and the space found I will share some of that with you.  Suffice it to say that when I met with Ryan Odinak, lovely woman, the executive director of the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County (  she blew me away by calling it “brilliant”.   Words like that from someone I am not related to inspired me to work even harder.  The meeting with her was Weds, Jan 5th, and from it I took away some great advice about boards and also pro bono lawyers.  She also referred me to Paul , the Executive director of the Greewich Arts Council, whom I met yesterday.

When he told me about the ‘space’ issue in Greenwich, I was expecting it. I had done research on that attempt as well as research on all the business networking groups (chamber, women’s groups etc) and I knew that there was an attempt some years ago to fund a Performing arts center by taking over a building in Greenwich.   From Paul I learned the name of the man who was at the helm of that project that, after five years and 30 million dollars raised, fell through.  He is my next call.  As an actor I am pretty good at reading body language and I could tell Paul wasn't too sure about me at the beginning...understandable...but by the end of my ‘spiel’ and marketing/fund raising concepts, he gave me all the reasons that Greenwich would be a great choice for this concept.  Still citing space issues, he told me that there are four groups in Greenwich that are dying for exposure and who would fit in nicely with my concepts.  1.  High-end retailers  2. High-end restaurants and famous chefs, 3. Finance dudes and dudettes 4. Realtors.  Someone else also suggested that there are many doctors in this area.  I hit Wickapedia and printed out all the businesses, arts groups, famous people etc connected to this town too. How do I get a meeting with Ron Howard or Kathie Lee Gifford?

I actually think that if the economy was better my ideas might not fly as well, but since everyone is looking for people and ideas that think “outside the box” I am anticipating the same excited responses from the business crowd as I am from the arts crowd. In fact, one of my long time supporters, Steve Skilken, a hugely successful businessman, has been encouraging of my ideas ever since I told him I wanted to produce a Broadway show.  We both decided that it might be hard to “move” that machine in the direction we want it to go right now, so why not morph over the ideas I had to something I can manage myself?  Steve threw in some great additions to the advertising/marketing strategy.  Wanted to shout out to him because I trust his opinions and when I get ready to hit a few businesses I will use him as my ‘mock’ audition.  Thanks Steve.  

Back to Greenwich.  Stuart, Exec Director of the United Way in Greenwich is the man who “knows Greenwich inside and out” and who was the head of that first fund raising effort.  In a funny twist of fate, the United Way here in Milford just asked me to be on their marketing committee.  I am hoping that Gary Johnson, ED of that one will also help me with a good referral before I sit down with Stuart.  I want the atmosphere to be as positive as possible from the get go. 

If any of you have suggestions for me as I forge into this exciting project, feel free to email me.  I have my Board planned out in my head. Mostly made up of my business partners who are progressively minded and also extremely forward thinking. 

Also feel free to send this to anyone you know who might want to follow the progress.

OH and the name of the project is :   Breaking the Fifth Wall.   (so named by my dad)
The name of the theatre…so far, is: The New Paradigm Theatre (get rid of “new”?)

Breaking the Fifth Wall 
An Innovative Theatre Company

Actors are familiar with the idea of breaking through the fourth wall, the invisible barrier between stage and audience. The New Paradigm Theatre Company seeks to take “audience participation” to a new level by a commitment to dramatic excellence while empowering the supporting community in each project. Often the close of a play or musical is the end, something to critique or remember. The New Paradigm Theatre Company’s mission is to explore ways of engaging the community, (formerly known as the audience) in all facets of a drama so that they live inside the story, not just as viewers or listeners. Breaking down this fifth wall is an unusual attempt to let performance art become participatory in a deeply collaborative partnership with the local community.

(thanks dad J )