Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Notes From Our First Meet N Greet

The Meet N Greet on the 18th at Mary Arrchie was excellent. We had a great turnout, about 15 folks (though I suspect some didn't fill out our sign in sheet - da bastards!) Representatives from Blank Line Collective, New Leaf Theatre, the Mammals and Tympanic Theatre were there; alongside some enthused recent grads, some skilled free agents and four of our current board members. The conversation was at turns heated, positive, but altogether thrilling. Ideas came up that I'm certain that we wouldn't have thought of on our own.

The next Meet N Greet is this coming Monday, September 28, from 7-9 at St. Andrew's Church meeting hall - at the southeast corner of Addison and Hermitage. They are designed to be an opportunity for the producers to meet folks interested in being volunteer staff members, and also a chance to riff with the theatre community about how we can best serve them.

We will also have one on Tuesday, October 20 - hopefully somewhere in Pilsen. I'll keep you posted.

So without further ado, the notes! I originally thought of posting them in their entirety, but I think I'd be asking a lot of the readership of this blog. I'm happy to send them out in their entirety to anyone who would like to see them though - just send a request to Transparency is always our goal. Below is a summary version.

Board members in attendance: Mikayla, Vinnie, Adrienne, Anne

Other people in attendance: 15

We introduced ourselves and spoke of the decisions that have been made about the festival so far, namely that we are producing it in the Pilsen neighborhood in September 2010, but have the intention to moving it to a different neighborhood each year, in keeping with our mission of connecting diverse groups of artists and audience members. We would like to keep the event geographically centralized no matter where it occurs. We will select shows by lottery, but are open to possibility of having sub lotteries for geographical considerations.

From there we opened the floor to questions/comments/concerns. It ended up being a pretty open group discussion. Topics that came up:

-how does this serve the Chicago community? should not be just another opportunity to produce; is good that it brings in artists from Nebraska or wherever; it serves to bring in foreign language theatre, good to facilitate blending of artists, different neighborhoods all in one community, great way to publicize smaller theatres out there, getting a larger community to the theatre

- shows? roughly 60 minutes, steering away from improv and sketch as it's already represented at the Chicago Improv Festival and Sketchfest

- specifications/application process? 2 page application, basic description, still working out specs, trying not to censor, mostly making sure applicants "have their shit together"

- make money? would like 100% of ticket sales to go back to artists

- self marketing? will be encouraged, we will market the festival and there will be access to each show but individual marketing is the responsibility of the project

- # of shows? 30-35 plays, 5-6 venues, Wed-Sun run, staggered times, outdoor and alternative spaces possible. Would go to be larger over time.

- specific volunteer staff positions looking to fill? events planning and fundraising are the immediate, looking for experienced leaders

- reviews? see what happens with the print community, NY reviews every show, DC reviews every show in equivalent of Reader and online, MN has active audience community where the audience rates shows after seeing them

- geographical center for the festival each year to buy tickets, shirts, get info, see previews

- how to engage diverse communities? (open question to the masses), next meeting should be in Pilsen, reach out to groups already in existence, include disabled artists, reach out to people you know

- take away? Facebook pages, word of mouth, get people on mailing list, find fundraising opportunities, online fundraiser (

- pair an out of town company with an in town company? social function only? one of the shows could be a combo show between a Chicago and out of town theatre, but could give one show an unfair advantage

- boost to theatres in the neighborhood? host theatres paired with out-of-towners as a "special" thing

- what's in it for me? recognition, don't have to leave your doorstep to see amazing stuff that isn't native

- get everyone excited, get donations from theatres in the city

- basic timeline (on website)

- fundraiser in Pilsen?

- students as free labor, Northwestern

- love to see street closed down on Saturday (ask alderman)

- other ideas for contacts: City of Chicago tourism website, office of the mayor,, DCA , International Arts Festivals (film, dance, etc,) get involved, trade info


  1. in re central location: A Chicago equivalent of the Exit Cafe at the SF Fringe or the multi Canadian venue beer tent. Create a place to be between shows and chatter, or to skip a show and plan The Cool New Thing for next year.

  2. Yes, I agree, a Fringe Central of some type will be essential.