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Identifying Board Leaders
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Identifying Board Leaders


How to best identify future board leaders of a small non-profit theatre.

How to best identify future board leaders of a small non-profit theatre.

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  • Who I amOur topic of discussion: when you’re on the board of an ensemble, isn’t every board member a leader?
  • Ensemble theatre, new plays, embedded in Capital HillRevenue plateau, expect fixed costs to rise
  • 5th season—we’re at a crossroads with big decisions to make
  • After speaking with the ensemble, you all (our Advisory Board), management colleagues, and experts in the field, this is the proposed processWhat I’m looking for from you: critical feedback and discussion
  • Last three are biggest decisions to makeOther priorities?Different order?
  • Other qualities?How many artists on the board?
  • The intersection of our current networkHow far outside of these communities should we look?
  • Is this realistic, given our time constraints?Who should be working on cultivation & recruitment?
  • This is why I was attracted to WETDoes this distinguish us from other board opportunities?How compelling is this prospect?
  • A longer-term perspectiveWhen/how do we begin to incorporate this into cultivation & recruitment?
  • Where are potential stumbling blocksWhat am I missing?
  • My Research: Fellow Network of Ensemble Theatres’ Members
  • Thanks!


  • 1. Identifying Future Board Leaders
    a theatre in transition
  • 2. The basics: Washington Ensemble Theatre
    We intend for our theatre to be a physical and creative intersection for community and artists in Seattle, by fostering a love of theatre's humanity, utility, and vitality.
    49 seat Little Theatre
    9 ensemble members
    actors, directors, designers, stage managers
    Associate Members & Guests: managers, playwrights
    Annual Budget: $100,000 per year
    $50K ticket sales
    $40K contributed
    $10K rental income
  • 3. The Little Theatre That Could
    Inspired by a 2002 University of Washington MFA class project by Jon Jory.
    In 2003, 14 (recently graduated) founding ensemble members renovate the Little Theatre in Seattle’s Capital Hill neighborhood from a movie theatre to a stage theatre.
    2004’s inaugural season of 4 new plays is a smash (critical) success.
    By 2010, only 1 founding ensemble member remains + no more subsidized rent =
    critical juncture.
  • 4. Process
    The ensemble should
  • 5. WET’s Strategic Priorities
  • 6. Ideal Board Members
    Demonstrated enthusiasm for WET
  • 7. Identifying Leaders
  • 8. A Timeline for Implementation
  • 9. The Pitch
  • 10. Down the Road
  • 11. Risk Factors
  • 12. Benchmarking Peers
  • 13. Cornerstone
    Los Angeles, CA (Geoff Korf)
    Mission: community engagement
    1986-91: itinerant
    1992: settled in LA, commissioned by other theatres
    12 Board members
    3 Lawyers,
    3 ensemble members,
    3 Managers: arts, nonprofit, Hollywood
    2 artists
    1 banker
  • 14. SITI Company
    New York, NY (Anne Bogart)
    Mission: new work, physical training, international collaboration
    Founded 1992
    Summer training + year around producing
    10 Board members
    4 ensemble members
    2 Arts manager
    Consultant (Board Pres)
  • 15. A Red Orchid Theatre
    Chicago, IL (Kay Perdue)
    Mission: new plays/artistic rigor/social compassion
    Founded 1993 in 80 seat (renovated) theatre
    2004: first 3 production season
    6 Board members
    2 lawyers
    Corporate strategy consultant
  • 16. Rude Mechanicals
    Austin, TX (Nicole Del Giudice)
    Mission: collaboration, socially conscious work, mentor young artists, alliances with other artists
    Founded in 1995, tours off-Broadway
    6 Artistic Directors, 30 member ensemble
    10 member Board
    President: local CDO
    VP: local arts manager
    Treasurer: entrepreneur
    Secretary: UT faculty
    Members: 2 entrepreneurs, 3 UT faculty, arts mgr
    12 member Advisory Council
  • 17. Any Questions?