Monthly Archives: August 2017

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What is Operation Bridge Building?

By Audra DeLaney

A couple of fall mornings each year, something magical happens at the Renaissance Theatre. School buses begin to pull into the parking lot and as soon as they are parked, children get off with their teachers and get in line to come inside. They have all arrived to participate in an program put on by the Renaissance Education Department called Operation Bridge Building.

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Operation Bridge Building started in 2008 and is the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra’s major education initiative for local schools. The program is designed to both enhance K-5 classroom courses, as well as support the music education for those in public or private school and those who are home schooled in Richland county and surrounding counties. To help prepare students to attend the Operation Bridge Building full-scale symphony concerts here at the Renaissance, we provide them with study guides that go over the music the students will hear and show them how to be good audience members. As well, small groups of Mansfield Symphony Orchestra members visit schools to put on more intimate concerts for the students. Operation Bridge Building serves well over 7,000 local students annually through the full-scale symphony concerts in the theatre and the in-school chamber concerts.

Director of Operations/Education Manager Chelsie Thompson said that each year the schedule for the full-scale symphony concerts is pretty much the same.

“Musicians start to arrive at 8:45 AM, school buses start to arrive by 9:15 AM. We have about 8-10 volunteers and staff that run between the parking lot and building to get students into their seats. Some volunteers meet the buses and lead them up to the doors, others wait at the doors and take the kids from there into the theatre,” Chelsie said. “The first concert begins at 9:45 AM and lasts between 35-45 minutes depending on the age group of the students. We release the kids by school and they head out to buses, so the theatre feels really quiet all of a sudden. In between concerts, the musicians take a break – they might grab a cup of coffee, have meetings or rehearse, practice their parts, or just read a book. The next group of students starts to arrive around 11:15 AM and we do it all over again for the 11:45 AM concert.”

Last year, ten school districts sent a total of sixteen schools to participate in the full-scale symphony concerts here at the Ren. An additional seven districts, a total of thirteen schools, participated in this initiative through our in-school chamber concerts. All in all, we were able to serve 29 schools across 17 districts in 2016.

Chelsie said the performances that happen in a school rather than in the theatre are designed to be a little bit more personal.

“We have a very well-established brass trio, woodwind trio, and string quartet,” Chelsie said. “Each group has a unique, varied repertoire and script that they use for these 45-minute concerts, covering everything from classical to pop to traditional folk music.”

The full-scale symphony concerts preformed here at the Renaissance are designed to expose children to a wide variety of instruments, as well as using music to tie in state standards.

“Our main education concerts here at the Ren are tied to core curriculum standards, often literacy, math, or social studies, and these are a great opportunity to reinforce the material that students are learning in the classroom as well as take students on an exciting arts field trip,” Chelsie said.

Altogether, Operation Bridge Building engages students and teachers alike by providing high quality symphonic programming and a curriculum that integrates the arts with academics.

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The Operation Bridge Building program is underwritten so that schools may participate free of charge. Without community support, schools would have to pay upwards of $4 per student to participate in this program. As a result of not charging for schools to participate, they save a combined $25,000 each year. Our concert schedule fills up very quickly, so we highly encourage interested schools to contact us early.

This year, the Operation Bridge Building concert here at the Renaissance Theatre will take place on October 19 at 9:45 AM and 11:45 AM and October 20 at 9:45 AM. and 11:45 AM. If you or your school would like to learn more about Operation Bridge Building, please contact Chelsie Thompson at chelsie@mansfieldtickets.com or 419-522-2726 ext. 251.

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Intern Where The Popcorn Is: What It Is Like To Spend A Summer At The Ren!

By Audra DeLaney

Staff meetings. Social media scheduling. Blog writing. Brain storming sessions.

There are a number of things that happen during a day at the Renaissance Theatre for the Marketing and Development Intern. My name is Audra DeLaney and I am a third year public relations major and political science minor at Bowling Green State University. I have had the pleasure of interning under Colleen Cook this summer. I have an interest in working in arts advocacy after I graduate from college, so my summer at the Renaissance was a wonderful learning experience.

I found out about this internship back in the spring of 2016 after I got home from a spring break trip to New York City. I quickly fixed up my resume and decided to apply. I did not get the internship that summer but I stayed in contact with those at the Renaissance. I applied again this spring hoping to become the intern and the rest is history!

My responsibilities varied day-to-day during my internship. As my title states, I was a part of two departments at the Renaissance. In the Marketing Department I was responsible for scheduling social media, writing blogs/a blog series on the Renaissance Education Department, filling out event calendars, creating an Instagram strategy document, and doing a few other small projects. In the Development Department, I entered donor and member information into our system, filed donor and member paperwork, went to development committee meetings, attended board meetings, and created a document that holds ideas for the Annual Fund Campaign.

My favorite part of interning this summer was working with the Renaissance staff. Each staff member brings a new perspective to discussions and decision making. As well, they each have hidden talents! The Marketing Director is a singer, the Graphic Designer can play the violin, the Director of Operations got her undergraduate degree in horn performance, the list goes on and on. From impromptu pizza parties to coffee runs the Renaissance has felt like home since the day my internship began.

My advice to anyone wanting to intern in marketing or development for an arts organization/a nonprofit is to be willing and ready to soak up as much information as possible during your internship. The people mentoring you have stories and pieces of the advice they will share with you that will serve you well throughout your career, so listen!

I was not the only intern at the Renaissance this summer. Production Intern/Assistant Director Andy Blubaugh worked with President & CEO Mike Miller, Guest Director Kris Kyer, the Renaissance tech crew, and the whole cast of our most recent musical, The Little Mermaid. Andy is a second year theatre management and visual arts double major at Kent State University. She heard about the internship from Mike Miller after she talked with him about her interest in directing theatre.

“He mentioned the internship and it sounded like a great opportunity,” Andy said. “So I knew immediately it was something I wanted to apply for.”

Andy said her responsibilities changed daily.

“If I was not working on constructing and painting props, I was sending out backing tracks to the cast so they could rehearse at home, or I was talking to Kris about what we needed to accomplish for the day,” Andy said. “I would take notes and cue tracks and sound effects during rehearsals, take t-shirt orders, and help with the odds and ends that needed to be taken care of.”

She also said that her hours varied based on what was going on at the theatre each week and that she thoroughly enjoyed her time interning at the Renaissance.

“My favorite part was getting to learn so much about production that I never had the chance to be involved in before. Especially in making giant fish puppets, working with Cue Lab, and figuring out how to be best organized among a cast of 35,” Andy said. “Watching Kris work was awesome as well. I got to sit in on a few of his coaching sessions with some of our actors, and it showed me a lot about the communication of the director to the actor, and then translating that into their character. Being a part of this show really opened some doors for me to be involved with more parts of theatre than has ever been available to me before.”

Andy felt supported by other members of the staff of the Renaissance and the cast of The Little Mermaid. One of Andy’s biggest projects this summer was working on props for The Little Mermaid. When they were unveiled to the cast, they thought they were wonderful.

“As an artist and as the assistant director, it felt like my work was really appreciated, which made the whole experience so much more fulfilling,” Andy said.

Andy has a piece of advice for those wanting to intern in the production area of performing arts.

“Try lighting, sound, costumes and makeup, audition to be onstage, and offer your assistance to a production in whatever way you can. Every opportunity gives you the chance to learn something more, which can only better prepare you.”


Andy and I would like to say thank you to those who mentored us during our time at the Renaissance. We wish everyone a fun and successful 2017-2018 season!