Sunday, April 24, 2011

Work

It seems like my only answer, lately, when people ask what I've been doing has been "work." To which people often respond "I'm never really sure what you do." So I thought it would add clarity to get it all written down:

- Regular clients: I have five regular clients — Circus Juventas, Open Eye Figure Theatre, the MN State Council of SEIU, the Mental Health Association of MN, and the Macalester-Groveland Community Council. For each of these organizations, I go in 1-2 time a week for a few hours at a time, generally solving their business management needs. This ranges from the basic needs, like accounting, budgets and payroll, to audit prep, to human resources, to all kinds of things like solving sales tax exemption, clearing up invoices, correcting wrong invoices, insurance needs, workers comp audits, and the like.

- Strategic planning: I'm currently working with the Rosemount Area Arts Council, the Arts Consortium of Carver County, and the Dakota County Arts Collaborative to set up strategic plans for these burgeoning community-based arts organizations. It's really fun work, tapping into my twin passions of arts and community. I'm very surprised at how different each organization is, proving that there is no one standard approach.

- Evaluation: As well as the focus groups and other evaluation I am doing for the community groups above, I am in the process of coordinating a set of focus groups and other evaluation techniques for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Working with MRAC and the people in the focus groups has also been interesting and informative.

- Tour booking: I've been working with Theatre of Fools to book a tour of their vaudeville shows throughout Minnesota, as part of a MSAB grant (plus I've been working with them on some front of house and social media). This has been the hardest nut to crack, since even with Legacy Fund monies, outstate performing arts venues are still often as cash-strapped as their metro-area counterparts. So if you're running a performance venue in Minnesota, let's talk — I have a great, mostly-subsidized show to bring you!

- Fundraising: I've been working with Nimbus Theatre on a capital campaign for their new space. They've amazed me by turning a vacant, unheated warehouse into a cozy theatre in six weeks in time for their first show of the season, and are about to open The Year of Magical Thinking with Barbra Berlovitz next week.

- Grant panels: I'm currently sitting on two grant panels, so have spent most of my reading time in the past several weeks reading grants. This can be especially tricky because you can't read too many in a row without your mind turning into mush.

- Preservation: Tom Zahn (Thomas R. Zahn and Associates; I'm often the Associate) and I have recently finished up several projects, and are currently bidding on several more. Bids take as long as project work often does, since they usually need to be fully researched, but no one pays you to bid! Plus, as president of SARP I'm working on a lot of (unpaid) preservation work, including the upcoming Garden Stroll.

So when I say "work," it's really what I mean. I love what I do, but after looking at that list I have to get out and have some fun — suggest something to me! Conversely, I am always looking for new projects, so hit me up...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day

This is what I know about Earth Day this year:

1) Old Navy is collecting old flip-flops starting tomorrow to recycle into playground mulch. Since I hate flip-flops and think they signify all that's wrong with America, I highly endorse this effort.

2) Lots of places are giving away free coffee when you bring in your travel mug. Caribou and Starbuck's are the usual suspects, but you had better not get in the way of my salted caramel latte at Common Roots.

3) Origins is letting you trade in your old cleanser for their stuff, and the Disney Store is giving away free carry bags if you turn in 5 plastic ones.

4) I am not telling Beatrix about Earth Day yet, because she goes nuts for holidays. However, we are at loose ends tomorrow night because Patrick is at some media event, so I suppose we'll have to find a way to celebrate...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reading

No, I haven't been writing. I've been reading — strategic plans, grant proposals, a little Bill Bryson. And lots of numbers. It's good, but better when I'm writing.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Her Hysterical Nostalgia

Lovely date night tonight at Blackbird (first time since they re-opened), and then to see Week 3 of It's Women's Work at Open Eye. Blew me away.

Zhauna's work has captivated me since I first saw her with the Dolls, some 20+ years ago. She's the kind of performer who pulls you in to the piece, to take an active role in experiencing it. Distinctive as her aesthetic is. she has not had as many chances as she likely should have to create her own work, and we talked about that, and her vision for this piece, a few weeks back at an Open Eye event. Granted, I don't see enough dance to begin with, but tonight's piece was one of the more compelling artistic experiences I have had in some time. Each time I close my eyes they are filled with images and with power.

Go see it. Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 7 at Open Eye — reserve tickets now, because tonight was full and once word gets out, it will get fuller.

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Also amazing images by the very talented Keri Pickett. Happy I could share this wonderful date night with my wonderful husband who gets it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Other Mother

This post is part of The Week of Understanding, which has already taught me a lot about putting myself in someone else's shoes.

When I was fourteen, I realized I didn't want to be a mother. I had a summer "mother's helper" kind of job in which I cared for two young children, and much as I loved them, I was very happy to turn them over to their mother at night. In college, I remember my friend Fran sprawled out studying with he, with her head on my stomach, exclaiming "I have never heard a more barren womb!" My career and lifestyle — lots of long and irregular hours, nightly events, a house filled with hazards, world travel — were in no way child-oriented. We had a lot of friends who were childless by choice, and many more whom, though I enjoyed being with their kids, I felt that same relief at the end of the night.

And then, all in a breath, my life changed. I was no longer at the demanding job that had defined my life for the last decade, my marriage ended, and most of all, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Though at that time I did not actively decide I wanted to be a mother, I certainly mourned the exclusion of it from my life, because at that time that door seemed very firmly closed.

Two years later, another major change. I was married again, I had two stepsons who I loved dearly, and on Christmas Day, my mother passed away. With us both turning 40 later that year, we took a deep breath and thought "Why not?" And almost at that exact some moment of that exhalation of hope, our daughter was conceived.

So now I'm at that other side of motherhood. Some things are the same, and some are very different. I'm in another demanding job, which I love, but it has flexibility and it has to stop when my daughter needs me, and for both my clients and me, that's ok. We travel, perhaps not as spontaneously or exotically as before, but travelling with her seems to mean more, too. I'm already planning the Big Trips, and even the ones like Disneyworld. We go out less, but as I put it "We don't go out for as many fun things, but every day is immeasurably more fun." I have to say that the morning Princess Dance Party beats the vast majority of the Ironic Hipster Events I've been to in my lifetime. And so, for a choice that seemed to perhaps offer me less, I am given more and more each day.