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What’s all this change you keep hearing about?

If you’ve been paying attention to Jobsite for the past 4 or so months, you’ve heard me talk a great deal about changes to the company.  This isn’t a gimmick or an attention grab, it’s a genuine shift that’s in the works for our organization.  Instead of leaving it to speculation, I figured it perhaps best to put it all out there myself and not only detail what’s up, but explain why it’s happening.

The first big change is operational, and it’s been covered but I’ll go over it again.  We will now open all shows on a Friday night instead of a Thursday, and we will run for 4 weeks instead of 3.  We’ve found we’ve held over more often than not, and this allows us to perhaps better capitalize in advance on what’s become a growing audience base.  This also afford us two preview performances instead of just one — giving us an additional rehearsal in front of an audience before an official opening night, and giving you one more chance to see the show at an unbeatable $10 preview price.

Along with that change, we had to raise our regular priced ticket from $24.50 to $28.  We simply had to.  We haven’t raised prices in 6 years, and we’ve watched the price of everything go up around us — from royalties to Equity minimums to gas to anything that takes gas to get here.  We’re still among the lower end of the spectrum for professional theater tickets in this market.  This also gives folks an even bigger incentive to buy season tickets, it’s simply a much better deal.  Typically speaking season tickets for 2 saves you over $140 a year with the current deal in place.  Buy the special early bird opening night season tickets by the end of the month when you call 813.229.7827 and you’ve save close to $160 for 2 people, which is essentially like seeing half the season for free if you normally buy standard-priced tickets.

Then there’s larger change, change that has been a long time coming.  To this point, our board of directors has been comprised exclusively of our core artists. Essentially we’ve all carried two titles — one for the board and one for staff.  That is changing, as we speak.  It has to.  Let’s be honest, most of us do not have the time, expertise, nor energy to commit to the kind of work that is necessary to be an optimal board member.  Our board is becoming a development board.  By that they will be charged with raising money (from individuals, corporations, foundations, granting agencies), developing audiences (opening night events, community outreaches, growing our season ticket base), and generally doing the community and philanthropic networking that makes not for profit arts organizations strong.  This also allows our core artists to concentrate even more on making art, not worrying about how to pay for it.

In the beginning, we did not want to compromise who we were by creating a board of lawyers, bankers, and socialites who might look to change who we are and what we do.  We’ve now been around long enough that we are stable in our identity and feel like we know enough people around us who know who we are, believe in our work, and are willing to put in the work to make us better and more stable.  This is a huge step towards our long-term success and strength.  It’s going to be the shot in the arm we need organizationally to get more folks on payroll and to be able to finally get our artists the living wage they deserve.

I am in meetings with several folks in the next few weeks to shore up those members, but I can say now that you should look for Elizabeth Fendrick to come on board after 9/1, and also look for representatives from the businesses and organizations who help fund and support us to join her.  There will also be a few other private folks coming in to round us out. We’re stoked.  I had an amazing meeting with Elizabeth last week, and I’m truly pumped.  Fret not, her joining the board doesn’t mean that this is the last you’ll see of her on stage, she’s way too awesome for that. 🙂

Out of the current board, expect only around half of us to stay on for at least a year in an interim capacity as we grow and develop around us.  We will always keep at least one core artist from the company on our board to make sure that one hand is talking to the other.  We will announce a complete listing of who will serve on the Jobsite board for the next year some time shortly after 9/1 when we adopt our new bylaws and everyone has had a chance to consider where they see themselves.

This board will then jump headlong into all sorts of various development efforts, we’re expecting great things and are certain this will help fast track us to our organizational goals.

So where does that leave our core artists, whom we’ve referred to as Artistic Associates over the years?  In the same exact place they were.  Regardless if they will help the board or not, these folks will continue to serve as core artists and as the play reading group and play selection committee for the company. Artistic Associates are Ensemble Members who are given a special title that honors their service and dedication to Jobsite as a core artist of the company.  Artistic Associates, along with me in the role of Producing Artistic Director, are the stewards of Jobsite’s artistic vision and help shapeevery bit of what we do — from mainstage play selection to the various Job-side efforts we produce year-round.

The Artistic Associates for the 12-13 season are inclusive of those individuals who served in this capacity last year — Jason Evans, Kari Goetz, Chris Holcom, Shawn Paonessa, Paul Potenza, Christen Petitt-Hailey, Brian Smallheer, Katrina Stevenson — and will be joined by three new faces who are in no way new to Jobsite: Amy Gray, “ranney” and Michael McGreevy.  We are excited to have their energy and unique perspectives coming into our fold. Welcome these folks aboard!

In short, church and state are finally getting separated, and it’s going to better allow us all to devote our time, talent, and energies into where they are best suited.  This is going to make us better, stronger, more stable.  We’ve tried to find workarounds or band-aids for a few years, and it’s just time we put on our big-kid britches and do what’s right for the company.

In anticipation of this, and in an effort to also take our productions to the next level, 2012-13 is our most aggressively budgeted season to date.  This not only is reflected in the shows we chose, but in the monies we offered to artists, the number of Equity contracts we took on, and the money we’ve dedicated to production budgets.

This is truly an “all-in” year for us.  If you’ve managed to read this far, I hope you’re excited as we are.  I hope you’re able to pitch in.  Maybe for you that’s by buying a season ticket, or making whatever donation you’re capable of.  Maybe you have time to volunteer in building or loading in a show, or maybe you just want to help us by putting up flyers and posters at your usual haunts.  Maybe you’ve read this and feel like you have something to contribute to our board.  In any case, I hope this has moved you to do something.  I hope this has you as excited as it does us. If it does, reach out.  Let me know what’s up. Let’s talk.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and despite the risk we’re taking I trust that these moves are justified and that our community will respond.  We have the chance to really take Jobsite to the next level and to continue to make Tampa Bay a first-rate arts region.

With your help, I’m positive we can do this.

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