As 2014 comes to a close, I want to take a few moments to remember all that has happened this year.
NIETF created a new showcase event, Theatrepalooza, highlighting theatres and works from across the region. It was held in August at Merrillville High School and was free to the public. Nearly 250 patrons enjoyed excerpts of past and future shows presented by NIETF member theatres. This event was made possible by the generous support of the Indiana Arts Commission, South Shore Arts, and Ideas in Motion Media.
NIETF participated in a variety of new avenues of outreach and awareness. These included interactive info booths at events such as Explore the South Shore, Popcorn Festival, and NWI teacher workshops designed to introduce arts into the classroom. We played theatre games with children, make masks and kazoos, passed out literature on shows and theatres, and introduced many new people to the organization.
The NIETF Foundation Awards Gala was reimagined this year. It was held in a new venue, the Valparaiso University Center for the Arts, with a revised format, and generated over 270 ticket sales. A new “In Memorium” video tribute was added that honored those lost over the previous season. Alas, all too soon, we have several more already to honor next year.
NIETF secured new grant funding this year in order to provide new and expanded services to our theatres. From advertising and outreach associated with Theatrepalooza to providing reimbursable grant funds for administrative and/or contract work, NIETF is expanding the ways in which we are able to support our members.
NIETF launched a new website in early 2014 showcasing new administrative tools for each theatre, along with new ways of finding information for patrons, including direct links to purchasing tickets. Having fewer clicks for website visitors translates into a higher propensity to follow through and purchase tickets in advance.
But one of the things I am most proud of this year, is how the theatre community embraced becoming a theatre family. Walking together as a NIETF team at Relay for Life, sharing needs and overflow with those in need. And most recently, walking through life, and death, together as one large family, caring, sharing, supporting, listening, and loving. This is what puts Community in community theatre.
I want to thank the members of the 2014 board who worked so tirelessly to create these opportunities: Larry Hinken, Maggie Reister, Matt Byerly, Ken Mertens, Matt Valuckis, Tim Slatton, Jerry Jascoviak, Colleen Zana, Michael Doc Kuhn, Kevin Doler, Natalie Franks, Michelle Smith, KeriAnne Valuckis, and Steve Zana. Tim, Natalie, Michelle, and Steve will be stepping off the board in 2015. I thank them for their dedicated service and desire to grow excellence across our region’s theatres.
To all of you who enrich the culture of Northwest Indiana because of your commitment to the arts – I thank you!
Now get ready for an even better 2015!