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Minnesota Theater Alliance
Membership Newsletter
June 14, 2011

Hello theater-makers, sorry you haven't seen a newsletter in a while. I've been traveling a lot, including an inspiring time in Fergus Falls at the Rural Arts and Culture Summit. What a great event that was - shout out to all the awesome rural art-makers I met.

If you haven't joined the Alliance yet, now is the time. We need your support or we can't develop all the useful programs we've told you about. If you have joined, thanks!



Conferences, workshops and events:
  • Network of Ensemble Theaters Summit in Minneapolis
  • Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability in Louisville
  • Resources:
  • ATHENA ticketing and patron management system releases v1.0
  • Free Web site, including ticketing, for first 10 to respond
  • News:
  • Play by Play Theatre Bookstore closes
  • IRS publishes list of organizations with revoked exempt status
  • Network of Ensemble Theaters Summit
    Wow, are we lucky, because The Network of Ensemble Theaters is bringing their national summit to us. In association with the Minnesota Theater Alliance, NET is presenting three days of: art-making, action-oriented dialogue sessions, and wheel-barrow races!
    From August 11-14, 2011, the Minneapolis Summit will galvanize conversations from NET’s national initiative, Micro-Fest: USA, exploring the creative process from:
    Beginning (Race, Culture and Aesthetics)
    Middle (Process: New Work Development) and
    End (Genre Defying Work)
    This Summit is a convening for theater artists, presenters, funders, cultural workers, and radical thinkers to wrestle, construct, and name the actions that will advance the impact of ensemble theater.
    By day, NET will gather at the University of Minnesota to discuss the field, the organization and the art.  Visionary speakers such as Kevin Cashman will share with us thoughts about leadership in changing cultural climates. Art-making workshops will be led by local and national NET members. We’ll spend time in small groups generating new language for and about ensemble practice. In partnership with the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas we will pick up and move forward the Micro-Fest: USA’s “Call to Action” for ensembles to do in their own communities.
    By night, we will see Minnesota Fringe Festival performances. We will see shows that explore the themes we are focusing on during the Summit.  And of course, we will hang out in restaurants (or the dining hall) and plot the ensemble Revolution – or just hang out with friends talking about theater, life and love.
    On Sunday we will synthesize the weekend’s workshops and conversations with a series of artistic interpretations of the Call to Actions, followed by an afternoon in the park of rowdy games like 3-legged races, regional teams tug-of-war and water balloon battles – because we know that the ensemble that plays together, stays together.
    In addition to Summit activities, on August 11, NET will be providing a Pre-Conference session on The ABC’s of Today’s Touring Landscape, led by MK Wegmann from the National Performance Network and Steven Sapp, Co-Founder of Universes.
    This national gathering will create space for artists to articulate their relevancy, process, and identify direct actions they can do in their communities to deepen the impact of ensemble theater. Join us!

    For Metro artists, MRAC offers a Training Fund Grant that can cover up to two members of non-profits at the regular registration price of $300. Submissions are accepted on an on-going basis.

    Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability
    In August of 2000, a small group of cultural arts administrators – all of whom were responsible for accessibility at their respective cultural arts organization – gathered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. to discuss institutional cultural arts and disability issues. While the level of experience among participants ranged from more than 20 years in the field to less than six months on the job, everyone shared one common goal: the desire to create accessible cultural arts programs that are inclusive of people with disabilities and older adults.

    That initial group has now grown into a professional network focused on expanding the breadth and scope of accessibility services and programming across the country and around the world. The Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) network:

    • explores practical methods for implementing accessibility in cultural environments;
    • communicates information about arts and accessibility, and;
    • shares resources and knowledge among professionals in the field of accessibility.

    LEAD accomplishes its objectives through an annual conference, an active communications network, and resources generated by the LEAD network and maintained by the Kennedy Center.

    The 2011 Annual Conference is coming very soon, this August in Louisville, KY. The conference features dozens of educational seminars on topics such as physical and programmatic access; universal and socially sustainable design; employment; legal issues, such as the impact of federal and state legislation, rules, and regulations on cultural arts organizations; marketing strategies; and planning, leadership, and advocacy. Participants exchange ideas, learn best practices and how to develop sound policies, and participate in discussions with leaders in the field. Other highlights of the annual conference include accessible performances, technology demonstrations, and resource rooms. Get more info and sign up now!

    ATHENA ticketing and patron management system releases v1.0
    For those of you who attended the ATHENA community design session here in Minnesota, or those who have been wondering what ever happened to that initiative, here's an exciting update! For those who don't know what I'm talking about, ATHENA is a free, open-source software platform for manaing box office and patron relations being developed by Fractured Atlas.

    ATHENA version 1.0 is has been released. This is open-source software, and it's very important to understand that this is not off-the-shelf, turn it on and it works, software. It's more like an engine than a car. To implement ATHENA at this stage, you'd need a software developer to create the front end - the car - that ATHENA runs inside of. It's a super charged, robust, feature-rich engine. But you still need someone to custom design the car to go anywhere.

    So for those of you with access to software development resources, you can download this tool now and build your own awesome system. For those without, hold on, there's more coming for you. Fractured Atlas is now working on, a full-service, web-based system you will be able to use and that the Minnesota Theater Alliance will consider implementing and sharing. Also, a couple other service organizations like Theatre Bay Area and Fourth Arts Block are developing their own implementations of ATHENA to keep an on eye on. We'll keep you posted as more user-friendly tools become available.

    Free Web site, including ticketing, for first then Minnesota theaters to respond
    Speaking of online ticketing, a new service has been created specifically for theaters by a Wisconsin technology company called Face Web Sites. The system handles content management, online ticketing, and email communications in a completely integrated approach that requires no patron login, no pop-up windows or redirects, and no setup fees.

    As Face Web Sites refines their product and grows their customer base, they are reaching out to Minnesota theaters, and in exchange for some consulting advice shared by the Alliance, they are offering a special limited time offer to Minnesota Theaters. For ten theater companies only, that are not happy with their existing website, Face will design a state of the art website, at no charge, that includes online ticketing, donations, newsletter, calendar, announcements and many more features. These websites would cost many thousands of dollars to have custom built.

    See the Cincinnati Black Theatre for an example of their work. Call Theater Relations Manager Kevin Leach at (727) 560-9379 for details. If your theater has been considering adding online ticketing, or upgrading to a more customer friendly online ticketing system, or improving your website this limited offer might be a great fit.

    Play by Play Theatre Bookstore closes
    The Midwest's only theater bookstore announced today that after two tenacious years, they are closing. Run by my old friend, Kelly Schaub, and most recently located just down the hall from the Alliance offices, I have had a very personal connection to this place and I shared my thoughts in a blog on

    If you want to say goodbye, get some great deals, and help Kelly with the last of her cashflow challenges, stop by the closing sale - 50% or more off of all books and merchandise - starting this Thursday June 16 at 10:00 A.M. Store fixtures, furniture, display items, office equipment, tools, posters, misc. and unique theatre decor/set pieces/props - ALL MUST GO!Details below.

    Play by Play Theatre Bookstore
    308 Prince Street Suite 234
    Saint Paul MN 55101
    (651) 330-1124

    Thursday 10-6
    Friday 10-6
    Saturday 10-4
    Sunday 10-2
    Monday 10-6

    IRS publishes list of organizations with revoked exempt status
    Hopefully, none of you are on this! The IRS has started publishing a list of organizations that have had their federal tax-exempt status automatically revoked for failing to file an annual information return or notice with the IRS for three consecutive years. Check it out here.



    © 2011 Minnesota Theater Alliance
    308 Prince St #270, Saint Paul, MN 55101 • (651) 789-0787 •