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by SaportaReport Contributor Jamie Clements, a leader at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, recently shared his perspectives on the fascinating world of Broadway-bound productions and theatrical investing. Jamie, the Alliance’s director of development, brings both professional and personal passion and knowledge to theatre, and has watched numerous shows originally produced at the Alliance Theatre continue on to successful Broadway or off-Broadway runs. He generously fielded our questions to help others better understand this intriguing world. 1. Jamie, would you explain the Alliance’s history of sending productions to Broadway? a. Since its founding in 1968, the Alliance has premiered more than 100 original productions, launching important American musicals to Broadway, including the Tony Award winners The Color Purple; Aida by Elton John and Tim Rice; and Alfred Uhry’s The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Because Atlanta has helped us create such a remarkable venue, and helped support us attracting and hiring incredibly talented designers, costume artisans, set builders and theater run-crews (the people who actually make the shows work each night behind the scenes), the Alliance is in an elite group of less than a dozen theaters nation-wide who specialize in large-scale, pre-Broadway, world premiere partnerships. We have sent nine shows to Broadway and have quite a few in the line-up for future projects, including two hopefuls (Becoming Nancy and Maybe Happy Ending) in our current season. 2. How does the Alliance Theatre partner with investors and producers? a. It is not common knowledge that every show on Broadway is actually a for-profit company, and like most successful companies, the producers who originate these shows like to have a “beta test” or trial run to test their product before scaling it up to Broadway. Your favorites – Wicked, Hamilton, The Color Purple, The Lion King, etc. – all had one of these “out of town try-outs,” as they are called in the theater business, in big regional, non-profit theaters like the Alliance. During these trial runs, the shows change dramatically in rehearsals, and as the producers and directors hear and see the reactions from the audiences during what are called “preview performances.” A pre-Broadway show will often have 10-12 previews before Opening Night at the Alliance, with the show changing every single night until it “locks in” on Opening and remains the same for the remainder of the run. Because of this iterative process in previews, the producers are every bit as interested in our audiences as they are in our staff. The Alliance is a standout in the competitive world of pre-Broadway partnerships because of our diverse, engaged and invested patrons. 3. Does the Alliance Theatre profit when shows they produce go big? a. A wise Broadway investor once said “investing in a Broadway show is the most fun money you will ever lose!” When we enter into an agreement with Broadway-bound shows, the Alliance becomes an investor in that show, but we are most interested in sharing a great new story with Atlanta before the rest of the world sees it. Because we go to great expense to help build, costume and run a show, we do share in a small percentage of the profits after the show hopefully goes on to Broadway, national tours, and sometimes even when it is licensed to grace the stages of high schools, colleges, or community theaters around the country. Any money we receive in royalties is invested directly back into the work we do on our Atlanta stages and in hundreds of classrooms around the state of Georgia. We are always looking to be partners on high-potential shows, not only because they are great fun while they are in Atlanta, but also because we get to help export a great cultural product from Georgia that will then pay dividends we are able to reinvest in our city and community. 4. How have shows performed on Broadway? Any Tony Awards or other accolades? a. The Alliance has been incredibly fortunate with all of our Broadway-bound partnerships, but we are of course very proud of our three Tony Award winning shows (The Color Purple, Aida, and The Last Night of Ballyhoo). These shows were some of the reasons why The American Theatre Wing chose to award the Alliance Theatre itself with a Tony Award for artistic excellence in 2007. The Prom, which premiered at the Alliance in 2017, recently concluded 300+ performances on Broadway and received seven Tony nominations during this past awards season. In total, world premieres from the Alliance have garnered 30 Tony nominations and six Tony Awards. More than anything, the remarkable people attached to these shows – designers, actors, musicians, artists – all form incredible bonds with our patrons, staff and our city, so we see that as one of the best rewards each time we host a pre-Broadway partnership. 5. Have you seen any on Broadway? a. I was fortunate to see The Prom in the final week of previews on Broadway, just days before it had a fabulous Opening Night. It was the first show I’ve been able to see from “beta test” version here at the Alliance, all the way to scaled-up nationwide attention and fame. Selections from The Prom also kicked off 2018’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was a proud moment to watch. 6. What’s your favorite thing about Becoming Nancy? a. One reviewer noted that this is a “life-positive” show, and I couldn’t agree more. It is alive and energetic and exhilarating and funny and heartwarming. Exactly what I want from a great night at the theater. Becoming Nancy is currently running on the brand new Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre until Sunday, October 6. For more information, visit alliancetheatre.org. Featured photo: Jasmine Rogers, Nicole Medoro, Sally Ann Triplett, Zachary Sayle, Jessica Vosk, Lizzie Bea, and Matt Hetherington in the Alliance Theatre’s 2019/20 world premiere production BECOMING NANCY. Photo by Greg Mooney.
GM/CEO Makes Good on Pledge to Ensure Authority Decisions are Customer-Focused By MARTA Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker has named a new chief customer experience officer and announced the formation of a Riders’ Advisory Council to ensure customers’ voices are heard regarding operations and capital programs. GM Parker chose Rhonda Allen as MARTA’s first chief customer experience officer. During her 20-year career at MARTA, Allen has worked closely with all departments across the Authority, most recently coordinating and implementing plans for Super Bowl LIII. Allen’s first order of business is establishing the Authority’s inaugural Riders’ Advisory Council, a group of 25 customers from diverse backgrounds who live or work in one of MARTA’s four jurisdictions, City of Atlanta, Clayton, DeKalb, and Fulton Counties. “During my last State of MARTA address, I announced plans for the implementation of an internal customer advocate and a riders’ council to serve as liaisons to our valued customers,” said Parker. “The chief customer experience officer who reports directly to me will lead the effort and oversee a Riders’ Advisory Council that will provide a critical link to the communities we serve. Our current customer call center and social media pages provide a connection to riders but often those interactions are reactionary. This new C-Suite level position and volunteer council will be much more proactive.” “I’m excited about this opportunity to shape the customer experience at MARTA,” said Allen. “Today I’m opening the application process for those interested in becoming a member of the Riders’ Advisory Council. I encourage transit advocates and critics to apply so together we can ensure customer input is part of the decision-making process.” After the selection process, the council will meet monthly beginning in May to provide input on a diverse array of topics including the design of the new rail cars, service delivery, rail station and bus stop amenities, how best to communicate with riders, and ways to ensure MARTA’s rehabilitation and expansion projects minimally impact customers. To learn more about the Riders’ Advisory Council and apply visit www.itsmarta.com/rac. You can also pick up an application at the customer information booth at Five Points Station or at MARTA Headquarters, located at 2424 Piedmont Rd. NE in Atlanta. Customers are invited to connect with MARTA anytime through our customer call center at 404-848-5000 and social media pages @MARTASERVICE on Twitter, @MARTAtransit on Facebook, and @marta_explorers on Instagram.
By S. Kelley Henderson, Chief Executive Officer, Action Ministries According to recent headlines from popular business sites, the United States is currently experiencing the longest period of economic growth in history at over 122 months. The last stretch of similar proportion was from March 1991 – Mar 2001 (CNBC). This expansion has created wealth, jobs, and massive GDP growth over the past decade. This is clearly a feat unmatched in our country, and one that assumes everyone has benefited. Unfortunately, a higher tide is not raising all boats in our harbor of prosperity. This week we will look beyond the numbers to see who might be left behind and explore opportunities to remedy the imbalance. In May of this year the non-partisan Brookings Institute reviewed the economic expansion in depth, across the globe with some interesting findings. Overall income equality has improved since 2000, with significant upward mobility being recognized by the 50 poorest countries. The opposite was true in 34 of the most advanced economies, United States included, where income inequality worsened (Brookings, Is inequality really on the rise?, May 2019). Income inequality is measured by something called the Gini Coefficient or Gini Index, where 0 is perfect equality and 1 is perfect inequality. According to the Census Bureau, who has been tracking the index since 1912, we are at 0.4845 as a country…Georgia is 0.4822, and Atlanta at an alarming 0.5728 as a comparison. Over the same 10 year period of economic growth, this index actually worsened by 3% in Georgia (US Census Bureau, Data Table B19083). It can be tempting to conclude that the economic expansion only benefited the top earners, and perhaps some exploration into a disproportionate benefit is needed. Income concentration is only one factor, although it does make for a good headline. One culprit that often gets away without penalty is our “point of view.” We live in a world of instant data, instant decisions, and unfortunately an insatiable demand for instant solutions. The reality is that income inequality is not a new phenomenon and it continues to worsen due to an infatuation with policy solutions that are are more concerned with a big splash during the next election cycle, without consideration of the investment needed to sustain upside for the next generation. Rhetoric that offers “free _____ for _____”, or “universal ______” (fill in the blanks) does little to address the systemic challenges facing families living in poverty. At that same time, cuts to social safety net programs for the sake of saving a few bucks in taxes are equally misguided. Some how we must find a way to meet immediate needs as a first step, without ignoring the structural reforms that empower opportunity at a longer trajectory point. Poverty and income inequality are related, and we can say that income inequality is a factor in poverty. Balancing the proverbial ledger may not be the lasting solution we need to address all of the long-term struggles though. Shifting our “point of view” to look beyond the numbers may reveal some real, albeit not headline worthy, solutions that begin to address the inequalities naturally developing in our community. Perhaps it is time we find a measure that helps define success with “human development” in addition to economic development. The United Way of Greater Atlanta is attempting to tackle this for our region with its Child Well Being Index, using data to determine where we should focus our efforts. This has been a valuable tool for my organization, as we work smarter to address the inequalities and systemic challenges facing our community. At Action Ministries, we try to work to address both immediate and long-term needs, with a focus on engaging families for the future. Where we provide food resources to communities, trust is established, leading to financial literacy programs involving the entire family. Rental assistance may offer a budget reboot for a family, but community is built through workshops that introduce families to each other and repair the social safety nets lost during displacement. None of this work is flashy, or will break in the evening news, but it is worthy. Taking the long view means that we may not witness the real impact of the work on the next generation, but we just might change the trajectory of a family’s future for the good. To learn how you can help, go to https://actionministries.net/ehp/
MAP International, a Georgia-based nonprofit global health organization working in 98 countries, is partnering with The UPS Foundation to airlift 1.3 million respirator masks and 10,000 protective coveralls to hard-hit hospitals treating coronavirus patients in Wuhan, China. UPS is donating critical aviation support for the shipment of 120 pallets to the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention that is coordinating supply distribution to Wuhan-area hospitals. “UPS and The UPS Foundation will provide help with critically needed air transport, and, we are honored to provide our support, along with our partners, to this important mission,” said Eduardo Martinez, President of The UPS Foundation and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. “As a member of the Pandemic Supply Chain Network (PSCN) and the Private Sector Roundtable (PSRT) for the Global Health Security Group on Pandemic Preparedness, The UPS Foundation is mobilizing the resources and transportation services needed to quickly get medical devices and equipment to healthcare workers in China.” The coronavirus is spreading rapidly in China. More than 170 people have died, with nearly 8,000 cases reported, and millions more are under quarantine. Additional cases have been reported in Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, France and Australia. And in the United States, there are five reported cases with patients having recently returned from Wuhan, China. The coronavirus outbreak is the fourth emergency which MAP has responded to in January alone. As a result, the organization’s stock of respirators is running dangerously low. MAP estimates that they will need to raise at least $100,000 to replace depleted supplies so that they are prepared when the next disaster strikes. With the help of donors and partners, MAP is sending the following much needed items to China: 1,348,280 masks 10,758 protective suits 280,000 pairs of nitrile gloves “We are grateful to our corporate partners UPS, 3M, The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Cardinal Health and Henry Schein (Henry Schein provided us with masks in September that we pre-positioned for emergency use), for helping us respond to the coronavirus outbreak,” said Steve Stirling, MAP President and CEO. To donate to MAP’s future disaster relief efforts, visit give.map.org/disaster1 About MAP International MAP International is a Georgia-based global health organization providing hope to millions of people around the world for over 65 years. They bring medicines and health supplies to those in need so people might experience life to the fullest. Please visit www.map.org to learn more. *This release is from January 30, since then there have been additional cases of infection reported and we are preparing for an additional response