Category Archives: Arts Advocacy

Backlot Check-In: Our Drive-In Series So Far

When things started shutting down, the Renaissance staff knew they had to get creative. They didn’t want to sacrifice the quality nor safety of entertainment, so they came up with a few ideas to offset the loss of live indoor productions. After the QuaRENtine Creations series came the safe summer fun that everyone needs: the Ren Backlot series, consisting of films, sing-alongs, and even live concerts that can be viewed from the comfort of one’s car. Check out this very first Ren Vlog to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Backlot with intern Sam! 

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In Appreciation of All Performing Arts

Okay, I’ll admit it: I love all of the classic Broadway shows we put on here at the Renaissance. They’re always fan favorites, thanks to their highly popularized soundtracks and storylines. (This season, we’ve got shows like Cabaret and Little Shop of Horrors in store, which is so exciting!) However, I do feel that musical theatre in its catchiness and pizzazz often steals the spotlight, and other forms of art may get overlooked, though they all boast their own type of pizzazz. That said, I’d like to take a moment to recognize other facets of the performing arts world, both at the Renaissance and in general. 

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Drama Therapy: How Theatre Can Heal

We’ve all felt it: a bundle of nerves, a stressful week, emotional baggage…the list goes on. Those who suffer from mental illnesses or sensory processing disorders can be even more vulnerable to big changes and over-stimulation. There are many ways to unwind and give one’s mind a break, and luckily, theatres like us can play a big part in that. Performance art for some can lead to personal catharsis or relief, a concept known as drama therapy. 

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Hey, You! Where’s Your Library Card?

If you’re like me, you probably have fond memories of going to your local library to borrow books, CDs, and everything in between. I’ve always gone to the Lexington branch of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library (MRCPL), and as a kid I LOVED the summer library program. I was a book worm, and the library made reading cool. Though I’m a bit older now, I’ve realized that no one ever stops reading and learning new things. Here at the Ren, we would like to celebrate both MRCPL and their library cardholders alike during our 2020-2021 Season. 

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This cast photo is a true testament to the brilliance of Michael Thomas' staging and Aaron Nicolas' lighting.

10 Reasons to Support the Arts this Year

The pandemic has taken a toll on arts organizations and performers around the world. Content has gone online, which is great to continue valuable missions, but not so great when most organizations utilize over 60% of ticket revenue for operating budgets and performers have lost their salaries.

As stated in ArtsBlog from Americans for the Arts, “The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts bring us joy, help us express our values, and build bridges between cultures. The arts also are a fundamental component of a healthy community—strengthening them socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times.”

In 2020, please consider supporting the arts as much as you can. And, if you need a reason why, here are 10 of them.

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Tellin’ Ain’t Teachin’

Think back to your favorite teachers.  Were they teachers who sat at their desk and had you read while they nodded their head and hoped you were understanding?  Were they teachers who stood in front of a chalkboard and just read from a book while you looked dazed and confused?  Or were they one’s who gave you information and then began to story-tell in different ways such as having you create a play based on a topic, or took you to a museum to explain great art?  Most likely it is the latter.  I am positive not all teachers want to be just a talking head, they want to be memorable so you learn!  However, teachers often need to learn themselves in order to not just be a talking head, and that is why programs like the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Arts Integration Institute are so important.

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Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography, 2018

Why the Arts Matter

by Colleen Cook

As a graduate student studying arts administration, one of my professors posed a question that has stuck with me ever since:

“Why do the arts matter?”

The professor argued that, if we couldn’t answer that question, we should change our degree track. Every day of our professional life, we’d be answering that question in one way or another, whether we were seeking funding for a program, trying to sell a ticket to a show, or simply sacrificing higher pay in Corporate America for a meager non-profit salary. Yet, despite the fact that everyone in the room had been engaged with the arts for decades, the question is not exactly an easy one to answer.

Many of the students began to answer by sharing our own experiences with the arts. The spoke of high school musicals, favorite pieces, art shows, and friendships formed as a result of creating art together. Nearly every person shared a memory of a relationship formed through the creation or experience of art.

As we drilled down beyond “why do the arts matter to me?” the conversation turned to, “why should the arts matter to anyone else?” The conversation revolved around the economic benefits of the presence of arts in a community, what the arts can do to support education, healthcare, tourism, and business.  Every one of those conversations felt like it gave greater weight to the conversation, however, it still seemed incomplete.

Here’s why I believe the arts matter:

The arts are unique in their ability to put us in touch with our own humanity, and the humanity of others. Because the arts communicate through story, and the human brain is hardwired for story, we are able to learn and grow when we experience art – be it visual, dance, music, theatre, or writing. The arts have the power to change what we think, how we feel, and lend us a perspective outside of our own paradigm.

When we experience these paradigm shifts, we applaud it and we eagerly share that experience with those we love. (“You have to read this book/see this movie/get tickets to this play!”) The arts offer us a point of connection to those around us, a sense of belonging, and a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. In a divided world, the arts knit us back together.

That’s something worth sacrificing for, worth tirelessly working towards, worth investing in.

Careers in the Arts - Renaissance Performing Arts photo by Jeff Sprang

Spotlight on Careers in the Arts

by Colleen Cook

High schoolers are often expected to determine their career path at the ripe old age of 16, planning out colleges, programs of study, and future careers they’d like to take up in their adult life. In some cases, students have a broad exposure to a wide field of employment, but students are human beings who tend to follow the paths that are familiar. When choosing their future careers, they consider those of their family members, mentors, and idols. They think about what they enjoy doing as a teenager and translate that into a profession.

When I was a high school student, I loved to sing. I enjoyed the camaraderie of being in a musical or an ensemble, and I had been mentored by my music teachers, so naturally the career path I chose was music education. I might have chosen music performance, but music education seemed like the more viable career option of what I thought were two choices in the music field.

Years later, I discovered the field of arts administration, along with many other careers, and I’ve often wondered: if I was aware of these career paths when I was in high school, would I have pursued something different?

Arts and culture as an industry contributes $704 billion to the economy in annual revenue.  There’s a wide range of careers and jobs in the arts, and many creative local economies are beginning to shift to an arts and culture-based model from an industrial economy.

In an effort to build awareness about careers in the arts, we’ll be doing a multi-week series of blog posts about the various career paths one can take in the arts in the coming weeks. You’ll hear from people working in the field as entrepreneurs, administrators, artists, and more. We can’t wait to share with you the depth and breadth of this fulfilling field.

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Journey to a Career in Arts Marketing

By Audra DeLaney

You have to wonder to yourself sometimes, “who is the person who runs the Renaissance social media?”  Well, this person is the same person who’s name you see in the top left corner of most of our blogs and who is asks all the questions to interviewees during podcasts. Marketing and Communications Director Colleen Cook is an innovative digital marketer,  invested wife and mother, and someone who is constantly thinking about how to improve herself and the world around her.

Colleen’s path to a career in arts marketing was a little different than most. She received her undergraduate degree in Music Education from Ashland University. After graduation, she took up a job as a music teacher in an Ohio school district. Following that, she chose to pursue a master’s degree in Voice Pedagogy from Shenandoah Conservatory near Washington D.C. in Winchester, VA. She always had a nack for arts management, but didn’t know one could obtain a degree in it.

“A friend said to me why aren’t you doing a masters in Arts Management?” Colleen said. “I responded that I hadn’t even heard of the field!”

After speaking with the advisor to those pursuing degrees in arts management, Colleen chose to add a Master of Science in Arts Management to her course load and was able to get an on campus internship that helped her hone her skills. She then interned for Americans for The Arts, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. who’s mission is to serve, advance, and lead the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Colleen was placed in the Leadership Alliances department where she assisted the organization with their artist committee, administration for the National Arts Awards, the Nancy Hanks lecture and dinner for Arts Advocacy Day, and several development-related tasks.

“When successful artists and celebrities come to D.C. to testify on behalf of the NEA, or to do anything pro-arts, this is the department they go through,” Colleen said. “I was fortunate to meet a number of well known arts leaders through this internship, and I learned a lot about how a successful national-level nonprofit does business.”

Colleen said her internship with Americans for The Arts helped her learn how to do things the right way in the field of development because Americans for The Arts has to works with some of the biggest philanthropists in the United States. The experience taught her the ins and outs of the fundraising process she may not otherwise have learned.

After concluding her internship, a friend who was performing at the Renaissance at the time reached out to her about an open Assistant Development Director position. She and her husband had talked about wanting to move back to this area, and Colleen knew the Renaissance Theatre would be a good fit for her. She still had classes left to finish, but interviewed for the job anyway. She got it, and moved back two weeks later. The next year, Colleen became the Development Director and helped to reorganize the development practices at the Renaissance. After three years in that role, she made a lateral move to work as the Director of Marketing and Communications, having thoroughly enjoyed being able to tell the story of the Renaissance through her role in Development.

Meetings with various individuals are also a part of Colleen’s schedule, as is working closely with Assistant Director of Marketing and Graphic Designer Steven Au on the numerous print and digital ads the Renaissance runs for each show. Colleen develops the marketing plan for each show, partners with numerous media outlets, creates the majority of the written content the Renaissance produces, which includes web management, news releases, social media management, and numerous print pieces.

 

“I love that my job allows me to be creative and productive each day. We work with some of the most incredible people in our region at the Renaissance and I feel so grateful to have built relationships with so many brilliant and hardworking leaders here. It’s my pleasure to tell the Renaissance’s story each day,” she shares.

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4 Ways The Arts Help Children

by Audra DeLaney

Each year, we welcome thousands of children into our theatre. Some of these children are participants, while others walk through our doors as supportive spectators. We understand that fostering an appreciation and an affinity for the arts at a young age will have a lifelong impact. Involvement in the arts has the ability to help children in unique ways as they grow and prepare for the future. Here are just a few ways the arts foster growth:

 

  1. The Arts Develop Math and Reading Skills

The arts help children learn that they can be rewarded through hard work, practice, and discipline. These are important skills to develop while children are in school.  Dr. Richard Letts, Executive Director of the Music Council of Australia is one of many researchers who have concluded that participating in the arts has the ability to help students improve their skills in a range of academic subject areas, such as math and language. “The earlier a child comes to grips with music, the more the brain growth will be influenced,” writes Letts,  “It sets them up for life.”

  1. The Arts Breed Confidence

From concerts to writing contests to theatrical productions, the arts help children put themselves out into their community through showcasing work they have done. Participation in the arts develops a student’s skills in a specific area they they are passionate about, like singing or writing. Rehearsal and editing processes help children realize they won’t always get everything right the first time and that working well with the other artists around them can help them reach their goals.

“Playing in a group, working together and developing negotiation skills are complex processes you have to work through to build a certain confidence,” said Margaret Bradley, a music expert with the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities.

Inevitably, mistakes will be happen. The mistakes made have the ability to ingrain in children that failure is not final and practice brings about progress, helping to build their confidence in themselves to succeed.

  1. The Arts Build Relationships

The arts have the power to bring people together who may not otherwise meet one another. An avid sports fan with a love for music composition may become best friends with a theatre enthusiast who has developed a passion for singing. A first time musical participant may become friends who someone who has been doing shows since he/she was in grade school. In the article “Why Music Listening Makes Us Feel Good,” Dr. Rebecca Sena Moore explains that that many researchers have found that listening to music has a positive effect on our brains.

“When we anticipate and then actually experience a pleasurable response while listening to music, our brain reacts in distinct and specific ways to release the “feel good” chemical dopamine,” writes Moore.

Playing music with others also adds to the release of dopamine that takes place in our brains, strengthening bonds among musicians and each other, as well as their audience members. Friends can become family and lives can be changed through the growth children see in one another while rehearsing for a show or concert, participating in an art festival, or showcasing their talents during a small get together.

  1. The Arts Teach Perseverance

Picking up a guitar, tickling the ivories, or playing notes on a clarinet may open a child’s eyes to seemingly endless possibilities. Throughout life, perseverance is essential to any and all success.

“First comes interest. Passion begins with intrinsically enjoying what you do…Next comes the capacity to practice. One form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday…Third is purpose. What ripens passion is the conviction that your work matters…And, finally, hope. Hope is a rising-to-the-occasion kind of perseverance,” writes Angela Duckworth in her book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”

Exposing children to the arts shows them that passion for something can take them far in life. First, their heart and mind have to be in it and then they have to work hard even when challenges present themselves.

These are just four of many ways that the arts enhance a child’s life. From musical instruments to live productions and more, the opportunities for children to learn, grow, and discover more about themselves and others through the arts is endless. If you are interested in learning more about our programs for youth and students, click here.