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Musicals Matter: Compelling and Creative Fundraising and Investing

April 3, 2013 7:30 - April 6, 2013 8:00 pm

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Chicago, IL

At Chicago Shakespeare Theater in April, 2013, we took a broad approach to all facets of fundraising and making a case for investing in musical theatre. Topics included making the case to give through storytelling, the intrinsic impact of art, building relationships with funders, the state of government and corporate funding, commercial/not-for-profit partnerships and uncluttered communication. Through panels, breakout sessions and lots of networking time, attendees were given concrete ideas that could be adapted for their theatres right away. Attendees also had the opportunity to see shows at local members Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Mercury Theater, and the pre-Broadway production of Big Fish.


Executive management, artistic directors, development directors, commercial producers, board members and anyone at your theatre involved with fundraising and maximizing revenue. All employees of a member organization are NAMT members!


Phil Santora, TheatreWorks (CA), Chair
Harriet Kittner, Goodspeed Musicals (CT)
Laura Little, LLL Productions (ID)


Brooke Walters, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (IL), Chair
Melodee DuBois, Zach Theatre (TX)
Bridget McDonough, Light Opera Works (IL)
Todd Schultz, The Old Globe (CA)
L. Walter Stearns, Mercury Theater (IL)
Douglas Young, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center (NC)



Wednesday, April 3

7:30 pm Big Fish 

Oriental Theatre24 W Randolph

Big Fish is a new musical based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed Columbia Pictures film directed by Tim Burton. It features direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, music and lyrics by NAMT Festival alumnus Andrew Lippa and a new book by John August who also penned the screenplay for the film version. Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert lead a cast of twenty-seven in this rollicking fantasy set in the American South.

Conference Add-On Event – Sign up when you register!

Thursday, April 4

5:15 – 7:15 pm Kick-Off Cocktail Partyhosted by Chicago Shakespeare Theater

800 East Grand Avenue, on Navy Pier

Skyline Room

Sponsored by Chicago Shakespeare Theater

This is the official start of the conference and is included with your registration!


7:30 pm Othello: The Remix 

a “hip-hoptation” of William Shakespeare’s Othello created and directed by GQ and JQChicago Shakespeare Theater

800 East Grand Avenue, on Navy Pier

This fresh urban take on Shakespeare’s tragedy returns to Chicago Shakespeare Theater for a limited engagement on the heels of an acclaimed world premiere at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, and wildly successful tours to Germany and Edinburgh. The CST-commissioned hip-hop adaptation of Othello is spun out and lyrically rewritten over original beats by The Q Brothers — America’s leading re-interpreters of Shakespeare through hip-hop (Funk It Up About Nothin’, The Bomb-itty of Errors). Whether you’re looking for a rockin’ night of rhythm and rhyme or a new way to think about Shakespeare, Othello: The Remix delivers an intense, high energy spin like no other.

FREE tickets to conference attendees provided by Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Conference Add-On Event – Sign up when you register!

Friday, April 5

9:00 – 10:00 am Check-In and Continental Breakfast

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

800 East Grand Avenue, on Navy Pier

Skyline Lobby

Breakfast sponsored by The Pantages Theatre


10:00 – 10:45 amWelcome Remarks & 30-Second Success Stories


Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Skyline Room

10:45 am – 12:30 pmMaking The Case To Give

Skyline Room

A panel of experts will look at ways to convince donors and investors to give to your theatre or project, focusing on different tools for making your case. Following the panel, attendees will break up into small discussion groups to drill down on this topic and share stories from their organizations.

Moderated by Betsy King Militello (NAMT), with Kate Finley (Dallas Summer Musicals), Jennifer Jaquess (Red Mountain Theatre Company), Buck Mason (McCoy-Rigby) and Roche Schulfer (Goodman Theatre)

12:45 – 2:00 pmLunch

Dress Circle

Sponsored by R&H Theatricals


2:15 – 3:15 pmThe Value and Impact of Art


Skyline Room

“We make art because we believe it makes better human beings. We make art because we believe it makes being human better. So why do we spend so much energy quantifying the economics of what we do, and so little time quantifying the impact?” Last year, Theatre Bay Area and research firm WolfBrown embarked on a massive research project to study the intrinsic impact of theatre, publishing their findings in the book Counting New Beans. The study’s project manager and book’s editor Clayton Lord will lead present on how your theatre can measure its own impact on audiences, with a case study provided by Phil Santora (TheatreWorks).

3:15 – 4:00 pmAdvanced Relationship Building

Skyline Room

A panel of experts will look at long-term planning and building strong relationships with donors and investors. How do the non-profit and commercial worlds overlap and how are they different? How do personal relationships drive giving and investing? What do your supporters want in return?

Moderated by Elisbeth Challener (ZACH Theatre), with Randy Adams (Junkard Dog Productions), Wynne Fedele (Pittsburgh CLO) and Bridget McDonough (Light Opera Works)

4:15 – 5:00 pmBeyond Enhancement: Commercial/Non-Profit Partnerships

Skyline Room

How can commercial producers support a theatre? How can theatres help commercial producers? We’ll look at this increasingly important relationship beyond individual shows and enhancement.

Moderated by Donna Lynn Hilton (Goodspeed Musicals), with Marsha Brooks (Brooks & Distler), Carolyn Rossi Copeland (CRC Productions) and Lori Fineman (Transport Group)

8:00 pmBarnum

Mercury Theater Chicago

3745 N. Southport Ave

The greatest show on earth is the setting for the life story of Phineas Taylor Barnum. Celebrating its Chicago professional premiere, Barnum sets this colorful personality inside the center ring of his own circus. Audiences will be thrilled with high flying acrobatics as Barnum tells the story of America’s greatest showman. This show bursts with toe tapping melodies; ballads, marches, and ragtime tunes by Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart.

FREE tickets to conference attendees provided by Mercury Theater Chicago.

Conference Add-On Event – Sign up when you register!



Saturday, April 6

9:00 – 10:00 am Networking Breakfast

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Skyline Lobby

Start the day with breakfast and time to talk to colleagues. We’ll have tables set aside for development staffs to talk shop, and the NAMT staff will be on hand to chat about membership, benefits and our plans for 2013-2014.

Sponsored by Dallas Summer Musicals & Music Theatre International


10:00 – 11:00 amDonor Engagement

Skyline Room

Beyond money and tickets, how do you get your donors involved? How do you allow for donor interaction while guarding the artistic process? How do you make a case for support and make your brand visible? What do donors really value?

Moderated by Brooke Walters (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), with Mark Chambless (Dallas Summer Musicals), Melodee DuBois (ZACH Theatre) and Kathy Evans (Rhinebeck Writers Retreat)


11:00 – 11:45 amUncluttered Communication

Skyline Room

In an age with so many companies calling for our attention on so many devices and media, how do you cut through the noise to effectively talk — and listen — to your donors?

Moderated by Mark Fleischer (Adirondack Theatre Festival), with Robert Friend (PatronTechnology), Mark D. Sylvester (Walnut Street Theatre) and Adam Thurman (Court Theatre)


11:45 am – 12:15 pmNetworking Coffee Break

Skyline Lobby

Sponsored by Ticketmaster


12:15 – 1:00 pmGovernment Funding

Skyline Room

A panel of experts will look at how government funding has changed in recent years, at the national, state and local levels. How can theatres advocate for the arts and work with officials to ensure support? What do theatres give back to their communities to inspire vibrant government support?

Moderated by Wayne Bryan (Music Theatre of Wichita), with Meg Fofonoff (Fiddlehead Theatre Company), Ra Joy (Arts Alliance Illinois) and Catherine Warren (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma)


1:00 – 2:30 pmLunch

Dress Circle

Sponsored by Pittsburgh CLO


2:30 – 3:30 pmBreakout Sessions

In-depth discussion of select topics in smaller groups.

Development Directors’ Networking Time

The Pub

Creative Revenue: Making money for your theatre beyond ticket sales and donations

Skyline Lobby

TBD: Topic to be determined based on discussions throughout the weekend

Skyline Room


3:45 – 4:30 pmCorporate Giving

Skyline Room

How has corporate giving changed since the 2008 recession? How do you build individual relationships with the people behind the corporate facade and understand a company’s giving philosophy and priorities? How can your board help?

Moderated by Douglas Young, with Lucie Springmeyer (The MUNY) and Barbara Whidden (Maine State Music Theatre).


4:30 – 5:30 pmFarewell Wine and Cheese


Raise a glass to your colleagues and all of our Chicago hosts as we close the conference and wrap up with any unfinished business and unanswered questions.


6:00 pmConference Closing Dinner


Quay, 465 E. Illinois

Conference Add-On Event – Sign up when you register!