The Minnesota Theater Alliance lives!

by Alan M. Berks • Mar. 23

News and notes |

From the moment I arrived in Minnesota in 2003, I heard rumbles about a possible theater alliance, and when we purchased this website from David Lind in 2007, I learned that tctheaterandfilm.org (the website's former name) was initially part of a fledging TC Theater Alliance that was born and died in the course of a few months in 2000 or 2001.

Well, finally, what has been in the back of people's minds for years ("How can a theater community of this size not have a theater alliance?") is now a reality. In a process that began officially in 2007 with funding from the McKnight Foundation and culminated in a search for the right person to help give birth to this thing—after receiving 40 applications and interviewing four finalists—the inaugural board of directors announces the selection of Leah Cooper (former Fringe Festival Executive Director and co-creator of this here website; also, my wife) as the Alliance's first Program Director.

We think they are a bunch of very wise people.

In case you're curious, the Board includes Hal Cropp from Lanesboro's Commonweal Theatre Company, Michelle Hensley of Ten Thousand Things, Sandy Boren-Barrett from Stages Theatre in Hopkins, Heather Stone from Sandbox Theatre, and more. A nice cross-section of locations, styles, and missions. And I'm sure they'll be recruiting more in the coming months.

According to the press release, the new Minnesota Theater Alliance "seeks to become a model of unique partnerships, fostering collaboration and cooperation between Minnesota theaters and theater professionals, striving to provide resource sharing, advocacy throughout the general public, a strong network of communications between members and between the membership and the public, while supporting the individual visions of its members and partners. Currently structured as a program of Springboard for the Arts, the Alliance will eventually grow into a separate non-profit organization." So there.

And, here's another thing you might be curious about: This does not mean that MinnesotaPlaylist.com has been incorporated under the umbrella of the Minnesota Theater Alliance.

While we created this website because, in part, we wanted to provide a useful service to the performing arts community, we also believe that an independent voice, a perspective that isn't beholden to a board of directors made up of local theaters, is essential to maintain our usefulness and also, honestly, our sense of fun. . . In other words, I like to be immature sometimes—or, better to say, "aggressive" sometimes with the words I choose to publish on this website. (Raise your hand if you get depressed when you read American Theater Magazine. Now ask yourself why. Does the word "whitewash" come to mind?)

Anyway, Leah is still working on convincing me of the total usefulness of a theater alliance in Minnesota (where we already have some pretty amazing service organizations!).

Of course, if I were a betting man, I'd bet she will succeed— both in convincing me and in making it the best darn theater alliance ever.

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