In 2007, a volunteer group of non-profit theater artistic directors came together to explore how a formal theater alliance might bring the theater community together to advance their shared interests. Working with funding support from the McKnight Foundation, and feasibility planning consultation from Cincinnatus, they eventually formed a partnership with Springboard for the Arts to be an incubator for this community-driven initiative.
The Minnesota Theater Alliance officially started as a program of Springboard for the Arts in August 2009, and with startup funding from McKnight Foundation and the Travelers Foundation, hired Leah Cooper in March 2010 to work with its founding steering committee to research and respond to membership needs with initial programs, formalize the organization's startup infrastructure, and secure funding support for long term services. The Alliance was incorporated in December 2010 with its founding committee serving as its board of directors.
During the summer of 2010, the Alliance presented 35 informational meetings, hosted in communities scattered across the state, and attended by over 200 theater representatives. At each meeting, ideas for programs and services, governance structure, and membership dues were discussed to ensure that the future of the Alliance was driven by the common needs and perspectives of our entire community.
With an initial outline of programs in place, and the first audience development initiative, Free Night of Theater 2010, completed successfully, the Alliance launched its first formal membership campaign in January 2011.
Now heading into its fifth year, the Alliance still meets with theaters across the state regularly through conferences, workshops, town hall meetings, and a bi-annual tour across the state. Our programs are shaped by community input, and led by community-based steering committees. We are currently halfway through a strategic planning process led by a board sub-committee, which will be complete by September 2014 and chart the course for our next 3-4 years.