—[ State of HUGE – Spring 2013
Every time I write these entries, it’s incredibly difficult to pull the trigger on them because there’s always something really cool in the works or almost ready to announce that I want to wait just a little bit longer for so I can talk about it. But there’s always something else to wait for, that’s what makes them take forever – however, a surplus of good news slowing down the posting of the news is still an excellent problem to have for any company. We’ve got lots of good news in the “Good News” department – And the craziest part?
There is no “Bad News” department – check this out.
—[ The most emotional line graph ever made
Click on the image to see it full size but this is what I presented on Friday before the Board of Directors show and it’s fairly astonishing since it’s the opposite of what everyone tells you a new arts organization should expect to happen – It shows HUGE’s debt, reserves and money paid out to artists.
The red line shows the debt falling to zero pretty steadily with the only exception being when we borrowed Jill’s life savings. We have since paid it back. We have no credit card, we have no bank loan.
The blue line is the money paid to artists and teachers – it’s not nearly high enough yet but we just launched our pay model in January to pay shows based on ticket sales and we will continue to build on it.
The bars are the important ones for me on a daily basis because they allow me to sleep at night – those are HUGE’s reserves. Part of our strategic plan is/was to grow 6 months of reserves so we can handle things like mechanical repairs, lost rental income, dips in ticket sales, etc without those being life threatening problems for the theater. Not having reserves was why we had to borrow Jill’s life savings, because we had no other way to deal with the unexpected, and having them means a much more stable, healthy future for the whole company.
We did not do this – if you have come to shows, taken classes, told your friends about us, become a Member of HUGE or donated your time or money to this wonderful place, YOU did this. The graph just shows the money, we know that it was given out of love. One thing I will never be able to quantify is how much that means to us or how unspeakably thankful we all are for the endless generosity that makes this place possible.
—[ Four More Walls!!!
Shows are amazing, ticket sales have been strong, our Groupon…happened, classes continue to be in high demand, we’re heading into summer in Minnesota and the place feels alive, busy and full of people that are really fired up – so what’s the news?
How about the fact that our landlord stopped by to donate the use of an entire additional building and parking lot so we could accommodate staff parking, more rehearsals and classes?
That’s right….donated. A building. And a parking lot.
We don’t have it forever and we don’t have it all the time but Julius has been an amazing supporter of HUGE since before we opened our doors and we are so lucky to have him as our landlord. Not just because he was flexible with us when we were in need but because he’s the kind of landlord that stops by to give us extra space because we could use it and he has some to spare.
—[ the Hangout Auction
The HUGE Hangout auction is happening right now and I can’t tell you how much it means to me – this was started by two of our regular audience members that came up with a way to support the theater and thought improvisers would be fun people to hang around and do things with and it’s grown into one of the pillars of our fundraising calendar that they still run on our behalf.
That. Is. Incredible.
This community is really something to behold and humbling to be a part of.
—[ the Shows
Shows open and close here with such frequency that it’s hard to give them all the kudos and attention they deserve – and this spring has been full of really amazing work from shows like Theater of Public Policy and The Craft Project that reach out to new audiences, shows like The Mess, The Score and Splendid Things that really show the breadth and depth of unscripted theater.
Twin Cities Improv Festival is fast approaching and this year’s lineup features more local groups than any year before – we added an additional day to the Festival and we could have added two more days and still filled them with rock-solid improv that I would put up against any show in any city on Earth.
The Twin Cities is home to some of the best – if there’s anything I can’t be a humble Minnesotan about, that’s it.
We are once again a venue for the MN Fringe Festival – they take the keys to the building in late July to put up Fringe shows and give us a much-needed chance for a vacation. Not only that, the Fringe has been exceptionally good to us and an amazingly supportive organization to work with – they generously sponsor the TCIF after-parties and events and have been sharing their reach by drawing attention to HUGE ever since we opened.
After the Fringe we are going to have (what will be) an annual cleaning/repair party for the space August 12th-15th, ending with our already annual tradition of a Happy Hour with the Board of Directors – a chance for everyone to come have a beer with the Board, hear how HUGE is doing, ask us questions, share ideas, concerns, complaints or anything else.
That meeting is one of the big reasons I want to post as much in these State of HUGE blogs as I can – I want people to know what we’re working on and where we are headed so they can really participate and discuss our future plans, not just react to what we’ve already done. While it might seem like a small thing on our calendar, I think it’s one of the most important things we do and I sincerely hope people know they can always approach us, challenge us, question us or help us work through ideas to better support improv in the Twin Cities.
—[ Summer Intensive – August 23rd – 25th
One of those things that isn’t quite ready for me to post details is the HUGE Improv Nerd Summer Intensive – I can say that this is something I’ve been excited to do since before we had a building. I don’t know how many improvisers are looking to the Twin Cities as a place to go and learn skills from some of the best but I can tell you that number is only going to grow.
—[ Talent Poole Event – July 18th
Part of supporting improvisers also means connecting them with work – HUGE and Talent Poole are hosting an event in July to help improvisers work on their on-camera skills, improvise together and meet with Talent Poole to talk representation if they’re interested in doing so. The event is free, more exact details are just being finalized now and will be posted very soon.
—[ CREATURE FEATURE and Fall Shows
CREATURE FEATURE is one of HUGE’s oldest shows and is returning this Fall to the double-feature format with Survivors of the Undead Plague on Friday nights. Additionally, we are having auditions to be part of this annual improvised horror-fest in July and I am so excited to bring in some new cast for one of our oldest traditions.
The show will run Fridays at 8pm in September and October, plus a special show on Halloween Night – improvisers can sign up for auditions HERE.
Since CREATURE FEATURE will be moving from Saturday night to Friday, we are able to bring together one of the most crazy, powerhouse weekends of improv I can imagine by announcing the remount of Star Trek : The Next Improvisation on Saturday nights at 8pm in September and October.
HUGE was approached to host showcases for both the Avalon Improv Club and Fridley High School’s improv clubs – it was phenomenal to see kids on stage performing in front of an audience for the first time AND parents getting to see their kids perform improv for the first time and we were so thrilled to be a part of both events.
We really want to make sure that young improvisers know that we are here as a resource for them as well as a place they would hopefully like to perform someday, and we need to make sure they are welcome and involved so they can find out about all that is available to them – like the Wunderkidz Boot Camp for teens and the Twin Cities Youth Improv Festival.
So we made an official decree that school improv groups can all hold their showcases at HUGE for free if they choose – we will provide the stage, the staff, the technician and everything else. If your school has an improv club or group and you’d like to have a showcase, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make it happen.
—[ That’s it…for now
I always hope to do these more often and there are always more big things in the works – I will post news as it develops…I swear I will. In the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing and spread the word, tell your friends about shows you love, come see as much of the Twin Cities Improv Festival as you possibly can and plan on having a beer with us on August 15th at 6pm at our Happy Hour with the Board.
Until then we will be happily hard at work
Executive Director & Humble Servant,