The 12th Annual New Victory Family Benefit is just days away, and it has me reflecting on the past five and a half months that I have been here (I arrived with Hurricane Sandy!). Inspiring donors to give to The New 42nd Street, as the Vice President of Development, is an unbelievable opportunity. I feel fortunate to be in a position to celebrate the organization’s stellar reputation within New York’s theater and philanthropic community.
I was attracted to The New 42nd Street because of its leadership, and because it is so cherished by the diverse children, teachers and families of New York, as well as by the performing arts industry as a whole. I feel there is such opportunity to build on that foundation, and for The New 42nd Street to become an artistic home to so many more. I am thrilled to support the company’s important work as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization and historic preservation. In addition, the organization’s belief in the power of the arts to transform communities and to inspire kids of all ages compelled me to join this amazing team.
During my tenure as the Executive Director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, I was part of a unique public/private partnership with the City of Buffalo, just as The New 42nd Street is with the City of New York. In Buffalo, we not only created better parks, but also better neighborhoods and a better city. The New 42nd Street has done the same—transforming what was once a blighted stretch of urban decay into a thriving arts and entertainment district that contributes to New York City’s iconic status as the Cultural Capital of the World.
At both the Asolo Repertory Theater in Sarasota, Florida and the La Jolla Playhouse in California—where I led development departments—the work on stage was complemented by arts education programs that focused primarily on high school students. I consider it an honor to represent the award-winning arts education programs of the New Vic that reach school kids of all ages, from pre-K to 12th Grade (and reach 33,000 kids each year!).
As remarkable as the New Vic’s education programs have proven to be, the human connection that permeates everything that The New 42nd Street does is exceptional and nearly unheard of. I see it every day in the collaborative spirit of our staff; the conversations between parents, kids, teachers and artists; the relationships with patrons and donors; and the creation of a safe and trusted environment for families at the Crossroads of the World. The New 42nd Street’s commitment to training and mentoring the young people employed as apprentices and ushers, as well as to offering $2 tickets for school performances (as The New Victory has done since opening) is astonishing. I find it admirable—even heroic—that we are committed to making the arts available at a low cost, even when that means that the operating budget of the theater must be 72% subsidized.
There is so much about The New 42nd Street that resonates with me personally, but above all, I am drawn to the extraordinary international artists who perform at the New Vic. They exemplify excellence, cultural diversity and creativity in many forms. They are my primary inspiration.
I may have been here less than six months, but there is already so much to look forward to. I can’t wait to attend my first Family Benefit, where I will meet and socialize with so many of our donors and their families. Next, I am looking forward to the announcement of our 2013-14 season, and the unveiling of our new donor groups and benefits. Finally, I look forward to envisioning, planning and celebrating the 20th Anniversary of The New Victory Theater in 2015!
The first on that list—The New Victory Family Benefit—is only a few days away, and we are in the midst of making final arrangements down to the finest detail. Event planning is a time of intense collaboration and creativity that brings together the volunteers who serve on event planning committees, the development staff within The New 42nd Street and every department within the institution. Truly, our special events are like a stage production with everyone contributing to their success. Every time I plan a special event, I feel like I am giving a thank you gift to our patrons and donors, and hopefully reciprocating a bit of the joy we feel in being able to share our work with the public. It is an amazing feeling. Being at The New 42nd Street has already been a rewarding experience and it is just the beginning of my story!
To find more information or become a donor, please visit www.new42.org/Support-Us