The following post was written by Development Intern Anna Strickland.
The wonderful world of Development at Seattle Repertory Theatre helps peoples’ dreams come true.
“How?” you may be wondering. “Isn’t it just about asking people for donations?”
I can assure you there is so much more to it than that. My experience as the Development Intern at Seattle Rep has taught me that, in the big picture, development is all about “developing” genuine relationships with the Rep’s biggest fans and helping them to pursue their passion—the theatre; and we have the pleasure of helping them dive deeper into this imaginative world.
As a part of the development team, I play a hands-on role in providing meaningful opportunities for our supporters to become more connected to the Rep. For instance, we deliver several special behind-the-scenes experiences to donors of all levels, including Walk the Stage, an event in which guests meet and mingle with artistic staff while learning the behind-the-scenes secrets of a production, attend the performance, and then receive an exclusive tour of the set following the performance. Events like this act as an opportunity for donors to feel closer to the work, and for Seattle Rep to thank them for their generous support.
The development event that our donors and I are most excited about is our 2016 Gala: Big Party. Big Stage. Big Fun. This year’s Gala will treat guests to exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the Rep’s artistic spaces, rarely open to the public. From the Scene Shop to the dressing room and everywhere in between, we’ll explore them all during the progressive party cocktail hour highlighting our 2015-16 season. This is followed by a delicious three-course dinner, live auction, and Raise the Paddle on the Bagley Wright Theatre stage. Of course, we cannot forget the after-hours dance party in the scene shop to top off the celebratory night. Money raised at this year’s Gala will support the collaborative teams on and off stage who bring the Rep’s season of productions to life. From playwrights to actors, designers to technicians, ushers to administrators – they all play an important role in bringing great theatre to our stages. Last year, we raised $460,000. To put that number into perspective, it is almost 3x more than what a typical Bagley Wright production makes in single ticket revenue over the course of an entire run, in one single night. No pressure, right?
As you can imagine, a lot goes into planning the Gala, and I have the pleasure of working closely with Kate, our Events Manger, to ensure a smashing event. As the Devo Intern I get to participate in many aspects of the planning process. Starting last October, we have monthly Gala committee meetings with some of our fabulous board members, as well as monthly Gala production meetings with our creative SRT production staff. This collaboration creates some of the best ideas. One idea that I suggested—which I am particularly happy about—is to showcase our costume department and the work they did for last fall’s A View from the Bridge during the event. I suggested we have the interns wear the costumes from this production during the cocktail hour of the event while walking around selling raffle tickets. That way we can share a little knowledge of the costumes while raising money for the Rep. Did I have an ulterior motive of wanting to wear a beautiful SRT costume? I’ll never tell. But I think it will turn out to be a win-win for everyone.
Another fun part of the planning process was the oh-so-delectable Gala menu tasting at City Catering. Kate warned me that it was a lot of food, and not to eat everything. But how could I resist all this scrumptious food and drink? We tasted eight hors d’oeuvres, two salads, six entrees, and two desserts, along with several drink pairings. I do not think I could move once it was all done. Safe to say, I believe everyone at Gala will love the menu we put together as it was such a treat to create.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what the Devo team, as well as the entire SRT staff, does to make this special event happen. Although it is a mountain of work, it is well worth the effort as it brings the Seattle Rep team together with some of our biggest supporters to celebrate the theatre and make what happens on our stages possible. In doing so, making everyone’s dreams come true.
Find more information about the 2016 Seattle Rep Gala on the Support page of our website.