What does it take to keep a small, not-for-profit theatre running? After four months of being in and around Theatre B’s office, meetings, and productions I’m only slightly closer to an answer. I’ll start with the obvious and work my way to things that may not be as observable to the typical theatergoer.
Money– Ah, yes, money; the thing that no one ever has quite enough of. Theatre B is a nonprofit, and a small one at that. Our ability to continue to produce shows is directly tied to how much we can work with the limited resources we have. Our success at grant writing, as well as the support we receive through donations (and Giving Hearts Day) can determine from year to year what kinds of projects we can take on. Many of my projects were centered around fund development, including updating Theatre B’s extensive grant rotation calendar, working with Giving Hearts Day information and researching new opportunities for funding.
People– I’m not just referring to the people who are in the cast/crew, although I could spill a lot of ink praising those who give their time and talents working in or on a production. Theatre B does its best work when the community is invested in us; when people attend a production when other businesses allow us to hang a poster for our upcoming show, when local area foundations collaborate with us during Sunday Salons, or when we receive financial support from generous donors. At the end of the day, it’s the hearts and souls of our audiences and our ensemble that make Theatre B so unique.
Commitment– Both Carrie and Monika work far more than 40 hours a week, and their passion for seeing Theatre B succeed is commendable. Also worth mentioning are those who show their commitment in other ways, such as taking on backstage roles in a production, volunteering on set build days, scouring the Fargo/Moorhead area for the perfect prop for a show, talking about upcoming productions, supporting businesses who sponsor Theatre B.
Vision– Theatre B was founded by a group of thespians who saw an unfilled need in the community and banded together to try to meet that need. As Theatre B enters its 17th season, the ensemble and board of directors are constantly reevaluating which needs in the community are still unmet, and how Theatre B can be a part of that solution.
Family– On my first day, Theatre B Artistic Director Carrie Wintersteen told me that “Theatre B is an intentional family”. “That’s nice”, I thought and went about my assigned task. Little did I know that I would be welcomed into a tightly-knit community whenever I attended a build, meeting, or production. There’s a reason that Theatre B is a place that so many “displaced professionals” can truthfully call home. I didn’t expect that I would be on a first-name basis with so many of the ensemble after being introduced only once, or that even those without a role in an upcoming production would still show up to help out when the call went out for volunteers. Like any family, there are disagreements, but the Theatre B family has nonetheless continued to thrive. My big takeaway is that Theatre B does more than just serve the community (as admirable as that calling is); we serve each other. We do this by building and fostering relationships that last far longer than the run of a show. We help each other grow and hone our own talents along the way. We intentionally make meaningful theatre with meaningful people.
-Tyler Ronsberg, Theatre B Intern