It’s not very well known, but I was a Broadway performer for a while when I first moved to New York City after college. Music and theater had been my love for years and years, so when I found this little collective of fellow artists making new musicals… let’s just say I was obsessed.
By the mission, Musical Theatre Factory is a 501(c)3 non-profit artist service organization dedicated to developing new work in a collaborative atmosphere free from the pressures of critical or financial success that dismantles oppressive ideologies towards collective liberation through powerful and joyful story and song.
What that translates to in practice is creating the place where hottest shit happens first (plus civic discourse). As one of the Founders, I really helped shape the first years of the company. Primarily an performed, I read, sang and danced my way through beautiful new pieces of art. However, my largest impact came once I assumed a leadership role first as volunteer outreach coordinator, and more recently as Managing Director.
Combining my love for the theater and my startup experience, I have been able to apply lean principles to performing arts, making way for a new way of operating and funding developmental theater. Most models (including the one I inherited) are based on traditional nonprofit strategy. Coupled with the familiar struggles of early, bootstrapped organizations, there was little strategic direction for growth and no tactical plan for scaling up services. And because being a primarily volunteer organization means high turn over, there were large inconsistencies in best business practices and quality of output.
Within the first 30 days, I implemented controls in data security, document retention, and marketing strategy leading to renewed community engagement. Within two months, a revised ticket revenue plan was put into place generating record high grosses per programming, and setting the company well on its way to recouping all investments into each programming class. Now entering my six month on the job, the burn rate has been reduced by 25%, standard operating procedures and compliance controls protect the organization from future audits, fundraising strategy is projected to double our operating budget for the next season, and the company is now being restructured for succession planning to last beyond the current leaders at the helm.