Happy Hour and State of HUGE – Fall 2016

This has taken an abnormally long time to pull together and the longer it’s taken, the more things we have to include in it – and there’s always something else we can include if we just wait a couple more days around this place. Things happen at a pretty crazy pace around here, it can be difficult to take an afternoon to type them all out.

What follows is the Summer/Fall 2016 State of HUGE – primarily information from the Happy Hour with the Board this August.  There was enough variety of content that I have split the summary into different sections and posted them independently.

There were also questions submitted online before the meeting, the answers to those will be posted in another entry [ POSTED HERE ] as well as a performer-specific post addressing changes and issues more focused on the performing community at HUGE than the general public, [ POSTED HERE ]

NEW BOARD MEMBER : Robin Gillette
One of the most exciting things we had to announce is the addition of the first new Board member in a very long while – Robin Gillette has agreed to join us in steering HUGE Theater and helping us make the transition to a more grown up organization!
We have known and worked with Robin for many years (as have many people in the Twin Cities theater community) and we are all very excited to have her on board.

John has been hard at work inside and outside of HUGE Theater dealing with issues of diversity and inclusion in the Twin Cities and we are incredibly excited to make it an official position – we are still working hard as a theater to figure out the best, most sensible, ways to grow our staff and John’s focus on outreach and diversity is something we value highly and we look forward to expanding his role as a part of HUGE’s future to make our stage a more inclusive, welcoming, representative place for everyone in the Twin Cities.  John recently co-produced the Our Cities on Our Stages symposium to begin a larger community conversation around the issues facing us all and we could not be prouder.

FINANCIALS : Past and Present
As always, we presented a snapshot of our financials, which show some important changes from last year – such as higher monthly expenses, additional investments in staffing and spatial improvements – and plenty of work still to do.


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INVESTMENTS : This past year, we were able to invest funds in our spaces, equipment and staffing in ways we haven’t been able to in the past – the creation of the additional classrooms (and continuing work to improve them) and video equipment to make the Neutrino Video Project possible – and more recently, the replacement/upgrade of our sound system as the components we’d been using since we opened (which were already very old when we got them) began to fail.

We continue to invest in improvements to the space – having received a donation to help with purchase of exterior security cameras for our parking lot(s), we’re working with our landlord to make that happen as quickly as possible.

One of the most substantial – and invisible – investments this year was working with the Nerdery to create a class registration system that works for HUGE Theater.  Every system we had been trying and using was always a patchwork of different solutions, none of which completely covered some specific needs of an education program like ours – and each caused different problems and issues in the management of registration and classes. Hopefully students enrolling in classes won’t even notice it, but we’re very happy to have a tool that is purpose-built and is making things easier internally for Jill and Adia!

GRANTS AND FUNDING:  HUGE is proud to be supported by McKnight Foundation, MN State Arts Board and MRAC grants – as well as (once again) receiving a grant from the Murray Foundation which is helping our outreach and diversity efforts as well as staffing costs.

Our staffing has been another new area of investment for HUGE – grants have allowed us to contract administrative support for both the education program and general admin support – which has made a profound difference in our ability to focus our collective efforts where they are most needed.

EDUCATION: Our education program continues to grow and evolve with the addition of new class levels as well as an added backbone of a Student’s Bill of Rights to help build in guidelines for a safe creative and learning environment from the very first day of 101 classes and a clear set of expectations for everyone going forward.

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HUGE added class levels to both ends of the experience spectrum – a new level 101 WTF class taught by Hannah Wydeven as well as a new 401 Ensemble Building level – to introduce WTF artists to improv in an inclusive and safe environment and help give ensembles tools to take their work even further in a thoughtful, collaborative and intentional way.

IMPROVATHON 2016 is coming :  Our most important fundraising day of the year is Give To The Max Day, which falls on Nov 17th, 2016, and we will once again present a 28 hour improv marathon to raise funds to keep HUGE Theater going strong.


FINALLY – Thank you.

HUGE Theater would not be where or what it is without the support, input, patience, time, talent, investment and care that this community brings to it.  It is such an honor to be stewards of a place that serves a community like this one.