Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Meetings, Meetings and more Meetings

Whew the last two weeks have been full of meetings in preparation for our big event June 30th!

Met with the printer who is creating our "booklet" for NPT that we will have at every table for our Board Development Brunch...which I am affectionately calling Broadway and Brunch.   Going there after I write this to proof one and then have him print out 29 more.  Our designer, Shaina (on our Youth Board) has done a beautiful job of taking my text and putting it in an 8 page document that the guests can take home.  When I tell you she is 15 years old you will not believe that work of that maturity could be done by someone that age. I will post a couple of the pages below.

Met with Hannah again at Belle Haven Country Club in Greenwich to double check that the piano is still in tune for our Broadway singers at the event and to confirm some details.

Met with co MC Scott Bryce for lunch and to discuss the program we will present on the 30th.  Been tweaking and writing it every day so that it accurately represents our history and mission.

Went to a show at Fairfield Theatre Company to support one of the attendees of the Brunch in her gig with her band. She will be attending with her important parents.

Held the Youth Board meeting at my house.  They are undergoing their own Board Development and we added a few members.  We also had our first expert adult guest, Mark Holleran, professional commercial producer.  He talked to them about auditioning and producing commercials.  They also discussed their own fund raising ideas and some festivals that they will attend this summer to do "Face Painting" for their fund raising efforts.  I added those to my calendar as well of course as did the two adult advisors.

Went to a picnic at board member, Penny's home.  She is on the committee for Board Development so we went over many details for the event there too.  Joe is one of our other members of this committee and we have been emailing and calling each other for two weeks with confirmations and details.

We have also had quite a few "pre" brunch meetings with invited guests for the event.  To vet them and have them vet us.  I had two of those this week with Penny and one of our newest board members (he referred us to this important guest) We have our first Bank President now on board....with the Board. :)

The rest of this week is the same with meetings, proofings, confirmations of guests and performers, details, volunteer help, coordinations of pickup for stars, etc.  Just doing the work that needs to be done to make this a successful event.

In this midst of all this, I was in the Emergency room getting my leg operated on.  No details, just suffice it to say that I have limped around for a week with the goal of being in heels by the 30th.

(Below are some examples of Shaina's work.  At the event she will be our "hostess" and I am introducing her to Hannah for some possible intern opportunities. She wants to go to Cornell and major in Hospitality management.)


Friday, June 21, 2013

Brainstorming part 2

Touched, moved and inspired.  

I am going to pepper those works throughout the presentation at our Board Development event.

Like a refrain.   Touched, moved and inspired.

It's funny but as an artist, you kinda feel like you have a corner on being in a career that touches, moves and inspires others.

But if we want to be thought of as the New Paradigm, we need to open our minds and recognize that any career, pursued with a relentless passion, is done so because they feel that they too are Touching, Moving and Inspiring others.

That might be moving others to make money, or to invest in property, or to cure illnesses, or to win lawsuits, or to market products...you name it. You know they feel this way because you can see that they want to live their lives so greatly that they would rather move with it and "fail" than succeed in another realm.   But my point, on Sunday next week, will be that everyone in that room was selected to attend because we artists recognize a sympatico with them.  We share a mental connection or bond with them knowing that we all want to Touch, Move and Inspire others.

If, after we educate them about who we are and what we have done and are doing, they feel that synergy line up and see a way to continue, no, compound their TOUCHING, MOVING AND INSPIRING in partnership with NPT, then we will ask them to be on our board.  To add to those already on our board who buy into this mission.

Theatres should no longer be content with only artistic growth.  Thinking that we have the market corned on this limits not only us, but others who really want to make a difference, but just didn't happen to pursue the arts.   It's up to us to make that connection for them.  While we improve our board, we also improve their lives and the lives of the community.

It takes a village to raise a child, so I have heard.  Maybe it also takes a child...or one person, to raise a village or community.  Maybe it starts from individuals, partnering together for the good of the whole that turns a whole village into something powerful and civically-minded.

The internet seems to have made everything huge. But it's really made it smaller. More micro.  More niche marketing. It's so niche that you can't sling a net anymore to catch audience members, donors or board members.  You have to weed out those folks, profile the ones that seem to line up with what you want to accomplish, and then you can move forward powerfully. Yes, it takes longer.  New paradigm.

And when you weed out, you aren't leaving anyone behind that wasn't on board to begin with.  The "new" has to be ingested, not just spoken about or desired.  The "new" has to resonate pretty quickly because "convincing" is tiring.  But when that lightbulb goes off, and I have seen it happen, it is like fireworks on the 4th.

To attract the perfect board member or donor the "application" has to include:  "How willing are you to Touch, Move and Inspire" others to action in your community? And are you willing to partner your efforts with an arts group that believes they are so much more than just a "theatre".

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Brainstorming part 1

Writing the "show" for June 30th.  I do my best thinking when I write "stories" so the next few blogs will be my train of thought as I write out the NPT Board Development event show. I usually write things out at first and then cut them down to bullet points for shows.  I also consider the attitude I want before I write so inspiration for that can come from articles I have read, books or movies.

Scott Bryce and I will co-mc and I will weave the Broadway pros throughout this. Some of them will be strategically placed to further the "story" and/or add their own two cents if they have been involved in any of our shows. I am also featuring briefly the Executive Dir of the Klein Auditorium in our Mentoring section (we have partnered with them for the Fall) and the Executive Dir of The United Way  in the Non Profit section because we have performed two galas for them.

I'll start with our short history/founding and who we are.  This interview with Bill McDermott, co-chief executive of SAP, the software company, in the NY Times inspired me to be bold. He was talking about the broader take-away for a class of graduating seniors and says: "A lot of people might play the field, or try to figure out what they want. But I knew exactly what I wanted. Second, you’ve got to want it more. If you want something badly enough, everybody around you can see the passion. And people will make bold bets on people who have an unwavering passion to succeed or a passion to do something." 

I am counting on that.  

Also when he hires folks this is what he says:  " You need people who have a sense of urgency and passion, and they come in with a desire and a stated goal, they have a point of view, and they’re looking for some support because they’ve got a game to win. That’s what I want."

I am basically asking them to commit in the same way when we present to these potential board members.  In the midwest, where I went to high school, we were often afraid of coming across too "intense".  I think it is mandatory here. Specific and Sharp.  

Gearing up for the actual writing of the intro section now. I know I have honed this to a fine point in the many meetings and lunches I have had over the last year or so. Explaining who we are and what we do. Why we are "new".  Luckily we have not waited until this moment to prove ourselves. Not waited on a building. Or funding. We have a track record of doing what we say we are going to do.  

The videos Mark and I put together are also good in terms of concise text.  I would write him the phrases we wanted in them and he would do an amazing job of working the videos in with that text.  The intro video alone has great stuff for me to use:

Key words throughout the speech will be:  New Template, Bridge to the community, Arts as a timeless connector, Partnering. Civic cause. 

OK This has helped so I'll get back to you soon on the next brainstorming session.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Things are really gearing up now for NPT.  We have a Board Development event coming up at the end of June that we have been planning for months.  Since our founding we have had a great board of directors. What we are calling a "formative" board.  Made up of super folks who believe in the mission of NPT.  All business folks and people with a buy in to our "vision".

Now, as we move into our next stages of development we need to entertain the idea of putting very connected folks on our board as well.  Plainly, folks with money and those connected to money.  Or the ability to raise money.  Up till now we have mostly raised money for other non profits with our customized shows.  A small percent goes to NPT. But we have never been in debt and we have enough to buy the D & O insurance, website, and other marketing type things we needed.  But now we need to get serious.

We have proved our mission statement over and over this past year or so.  Helping other non profits with our customized Broadway performer-filled shows, mentoring outreach and social media and marketing. Good PR and good tribe-building.

This past month has been filled with meetings.  Meeting new prospective board members, meeting the board development committee (many times), meeting other producers, meeting, meeting, meeting.  This all culminates in the June 30th, event at a lovely country club in Greenwich where I have invited eight Broadway performers to perform around our own custom-built show finally! We will feature points about who we are, what we have done and weave the performers throughout the show.  Scott Bryce is our master of ceremonies and we have a few guest speakers who can talk about our various bullet points as well.

It will be very classy and informative for the selected 30 or so guests.  Some are CEO's, bank presidents, business folks, lawyers, and others interested in hearing about what NPT has done and will do.  I have been spending a ton of time on the "take away packets" that will describe us as well as feedback cards that will follow up on new nominations to our board.  It takes a lot of time.

But as one of our board members, Joe, says, "We are moving forward with or without them".  Certainly the last couple meetings I had with prospective folks went so well I left feeling empowered all over  again about our mission.  Anything is really possible if you are passionate about the cause. The Work.

It's not about me. It's about the Work.  We are taught that concept as actors.  And the actors that can really embrace that idea don't go crazy with the rejections that inevitably happen.  Why shouldn't a theatre company feel the same way?  It is not about the personel. It's about the Work or the Mission.  And if the mission is strong enough and resonates with the right people it flows.

Those that don't see the lightbulb go off are just not meant to be a part of NPT. That goes for millionaires and stars alike.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Right place/Right time

I got this in my "Notes from the Universe" today:

Being in the right place at the right time, Kristin, isn't something you can force. 

It just happens when you keep busy. Effortlessly. 

Imagine that, 
    The Universe

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

© www.tut.com ®
No, really! Imagine that, Kristin! And then get busy, because AMAZING awaits!

And I would add:  Being prepared.  Doing your research and practicing.  Then when you are busy with that, and busy setting appointments, and busy working towards your goals, THAT is when being in the right place at the right time pays off.  

Today I have a meeting at the Klein with Karl Gastayer, the Exec. Dir, and three of my Broadway pals who will be teachers next year in the ASK (After School At the Klein) along with Andy and me.  This is a new Fall program that outreaches to the high school students in Bridgeport. We have very good support in the area/schools for this, and are now taking the next steps.

Today is the official introduction of the teachers that NPT can bring with major clout and Karl who has impressively worked to help make it happen.  I will be in charge of college interns, and teachers as well as helping to creatively plan the classes and program.  The program will also include private teachers from KEYS (another non profit) and the Bridgeport schools for symphony and choir.  Classes include cool stuff like Puppetry, How to audition for film/tv and commercials, Flashmob as well as Broadway auditions, Theatre and Sketch-up (a design class).  

This is will be a super template for how to partner as non profits and make something extraordinary happen in a community for youth mentoring and education and leadership.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bigger than yourself

Why did I wait so long to read this book???  "Yours for the Asking" is changing my world view.  Or maybe revamping it.  It's subtitled "An indispensable guide to fundraising and management". Maybe that is why.  Because it is soooo much more than that.

And while Chapter 2 is really focused on working with your board ie "It all begins with a generous, committed, resourceful and energetic board of directors." it is a testament to teamwork.  Encouraging those of us in leadership positions to spend personal time with each member to create a vital and thriving team of committed and valued folks who believe in what you believe. That might be the arts, or business, or religion or a number of subjects which you are passionate about.

Taking it more personally, for NPT, sometimes it's easy to get lost in the "theatre" of it all.  If we take the work more seriously than we take ourselves it flows.  And our work is the mission of this theatre.

What makes it the "New" Paradigm theatre?  Well, when there are so many worthy causes out there that include poverty, cancer, women and children, refugees, etc how do you "sell" theatre as being important compared to that?   How do you get new committed board members, or new donors?  The New Paradigm of this theatre is that we use our talents for more than just "shows".   Sidebar: I have always felt that the folks (actors, directors, artists)  in my field were so intelligent it was a shame they didn't use their brains to cure cancer.  They are also resilient, persistent, relentless and resourceful.  What a great combo for coming up with a world peace solution.  If we could just graft these brains into a field that does that.....

So we perform for the causes that do.  We aim to be a draw at their Galas and fund raisers. We take their mission to heart and create a show that expresses it to the audience they are hoping will donate at the end.  We offer innovative marketing ideas to them prior to the event. We often reach out to the media to get their non profit attention.

Not only are we aiming to be a critical artistic endeavor, but also a civic cause.  A major contributor to the quality of life in an area through our outreach.  Of course we hope to be a tourist attraction for the area and an engine of economic development.

Yes, this sounds huge.  Yes, this is far reaching.  But we are laying the ground work right now with our outreach to other non profits, our mentoring and our high quality performances with Broadway actors who also believe they have been given a gift meant to help others as well as themselves. Like-minded folks. Team players.

This is The New Paradigm that says non profits can work together instead of competing with each other.  The New Paradigm that says you don't have to start with a building to be called a theatre.  The New Paradigm that expands the word "theatre" to mean more than just "the arts".

Clearly I am reinvigorated and feel like it might be a calling to change the world.  Oooo, how very pageant girl of me.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Yours for the Asking

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world"
-   Mahatma Gandhi

About two months ago I got a book entitled, "Yours for the Asking" by Reynold Levy.  His credits include: President of Lincoln Center and CEO of International Rescue Committee, Senior officer of ATT&T in charge of Gov't relations, President of the ATT&T foundation and tons of other business and non profit experience.

I have just gotten around to actually reading it and am inspired to become the best fund raiser in CT and maybe the world! Lol.

But phrases like "We need your help" in a not-to-be-denied melody and lyric; the cultivation of leadership that takes off with powerful. peer-driven asking".   Really speaks to me.

Instead of the negative attitude I hear from so many about the economy and "it's so hard to raise money" and "you are a start up nonprofit" and so forth, he says "don't let the nay sayers and skeptics, the preachers of  doom and gloom slow you down, or alter your mood. The power of positive thinking is the very fuel that animates the best fundraisers and salesmen. "

He talks about fund raising as salesmanship. Persuasiveness. And as a performing art!

I keep highlighting so much that the whole book is going to look yellow.  But he is speaking to me.  Much of our fundraising will be in the hands of our board of directors, especially the new ones that we are adding with influence in the area.  And Mr. Levy says, "How trustees (board members) are treated, how highly they are valued in the governance process, and how much focused time is spent in tapping their intellectual gifts and business and social connections is critical to successfully raising funds from them."  

These next few months will be super important for NPT as we move to our next stage of development. I need to be accessible and to have a plan of action myself as the leader I want to be.  Scheduling my time will be crucial to getting everything I need to get done (ie teaching, business etc) and everything I want to get done (the theatre).

I created this.  My mission now has to be to make myself into the best leader I can to guide the fund raising that our theatre has to be great at.  Not just good. Great.

This book has inspired me to take on a new challenge. I know I am good at asking people to do things.  Perform, teach, give their time.  Now I need to educate myself about how to implement those same skills in terms of raising money.  It's about the "ask" and I want to be excellent at this.

I will be excellent at this.  And I can see how I could apply this new knowledge to other aspects of my businesses and life as well.  I am hungry and primed to learn this.

I wonder if I could follow Mr. Levy around for the day.....
Article in the NY Times: