As the year draws to a close, I write to express my gratitude to you, our loyal AST members. This past season is one that will forever remain with me, as it was a year of becoming fully acquainted with what makes this organization tick and with what it takes to sustain a professional theater. In taking on the role of Executive Director, I forged relationships with so many wonderful people in Central Arkansas, impressive people who value the arts in their community and who are now dedicated friends, willing to put in mighty long hours to see that Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre becomes a sustainable organization and a destination for tourists well beyond the limits of Conway.
And we are making significant strides. Our 2011 pre-season was all about spreading the word about AST, and with a sleek new logo, we did just that, establishing a presence in- and outside of Conway. We took the Bard Ball to the Governor’s Mansion, no less, and had a celebration there of Arkansas writers, musicians, and artists that was both fun and raised ample funds. In the spring we had our first annual Shakespeare Scurry, our fun-run through the Hendrix campus, a family-friendly affair that we are making a yearly tradition. Not only did we sell more tickets in 2011 than ever before, we also saw performances move outside to The Village at Hendrix, as well as into Argenta Community Theater. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was a huge hit, and Chris Crawford (our Joseph) was mobbed by fans in the lobby of Reynolds after every performance. Because of you, all shows had successful runs.
The most exciting piece of news for the upcoming season is the hiring of our new Producing Artistic Director, Rebekah Scallet. Rebekah arrived in early August from Illinois Shakespeare with profound experience in marketing, development, artistic direction, and teaching and directing Shakespeare. What’s more, she shares both my Arkansas roots and my enthusiasm for the important role AST does and will play in establishing our community as the center for artistic excellence in the state. I am thrilled to have such an impressive, talented person take over the reins of AST. Certainly I will remain profoundly involved as Board President, aiding Rebekah and this organization that I love and value. As I have said to many of you in person, I will always remain the most ardent champion of AST.
I am excited to announce that our 2012 season will see Rebekah at the directing helm of Twelfth Night, the outdoor production that will be performed both at The Village at Hendrix in Conway and Wildwood in Little Rock. Rebekah has planned a season that will thrill our dedicated members as well as draw in those who are still unfamiliar with AST. Rounding out our 2012 season will be Richard III and Big River, as well as a children’s version of The Tempest, directed by veteran AST company member, Josh Rice.
As the end of the year draws to a close, please remember us in your charitable giving. AST relies on individual and corporate donations to fund over 60% of its budget, a budget that is now close to $300,000. If you have not joined as a 2012 member, please do so today. You can donate online today, or click here for a printable membership form that you may return to us with your donation. We want to keep professional theater in Conway, but we need your help. Many thanks in advance. And save the date for Bard Ball: March 10th at Argenta Community Theater in North Little Rock!