Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Summertime Thoughts on the Fourth of July

Posted by Bruce Miller
It's a DAY OFF!! As I enjoy it, I'm reminded of why the summertime has become so crazy at B'dale and TIV.

A unique and important characteristic of our two nonprofit companies—one that is seldom noticed, at least publicly—is that we employ our core team of 40 professional theatre artists year round. In this way we’re different from our peer organizations, the Richmond Symphony and the Richmond Ballet, and our predecessor theatre, TheatreVirginia. Our core artists do not take the summer off. They earn vacations, to be sure (two to three weeks, depending on the number of years they’ve been employed). But they also earn paychecks – 52 weeks a year.

We do this for one simple reason. We believe theatre professionals deserve the security of year-round employment just like everyone else. We don’t send our core team on hiatus in the summer because we want to enable them to continue to work at Barksdale and Theatre IV year after year. All management studies suggest that seasonal employment encourages turnover, whereas year-round employment encourages stability.

Our employment records at Barksdale and Theatre IV seem to prove these findings. For years our companies have benefitted from the longest employee longevity and the lowest turnover of any major arts organization in the Commonwealth.

In order to make this year-round employment possible, we engage in year-round programming. In fact, the sun-drenched days of summer are now among our busiest.

Throughout July, we will be continuing the run of our hit musical Into the Woods at Barksdale Willow Lawn (featuring Audra Honaker and Russell Rowland as Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, pictured to the left). And we'll be keeping the laughs coming with our hit comedy The Odd Couple at Barksdale Hanover Tavern (featuring Jen Meharg and Jennifer Frank as the Pigeon Sisters, pictured below and to the right).
In partnership with Steward School, we will be opening the Greater Richmond High School All-Star Musical, which this year happens to be Disney’s High School Musical, involving nearly 50 students from 20 area schools in a fully produced three-week run at the magnificent Cramer Center in Richmond’s West End.
We have enrolled 100 elementary school students in our hugely popular Stage Explorers day camp, this year operating out of both our Willow Lawn and Hanover Tavern facilities. We have extended our Coffee & Conversations program, sponsored by Rostov’s Coffee & Tea, into July, and continued our essential Bifocals Theatre Project for senior artists and audiences into the month of June.

This Friday, a terrific vocal ensemble from the cast of Disney's High School Musical will even be singing the national anthem at the Diamond.
And this Sunday, an All Star Jam will conclude the 06-07 season of our terrific live music series, Stretchin' at Barksdale, produced by Richmond's most charming impresario, B. J. Kocen. Brad Tucker, Craig Evans, Harry Gore, Chris Fuller, Jackie Frost, Stephen Leckey and the Beej himself will be making organic music all evening long for a meager $10 cover charge--the best live music deal in town.
So, “Why is the summer so busy!?” Because we're working our hardest, every day, to increase the professionalism of our company, with one goal in mind—living up to the responsibilities of being Virginia’s leading professional theatre.

--Bruce Miller


Stuart Kellam said...

In terms of economic development, 40 full-time, year-round jobs is no small contribution to the health of our community. You should be more proactive in getting this word out to business leaders. There are very few nonprofits that own and manage a major downtown facility AND provide 40 jobs. Good work on the business front!

Connie Thompson said...

My 9-year old daughter is practically apoplectic waiting to see High School Musical. Thanks so much for not forgetting the younger audience this summer. They'll be your older audience before you know it.