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This is the sixth in a series of interviews with theatre professionals in non-performing careers.
Theatre Arts Management is a growing concern as many theatres come and go every year. Several universities have added a Theatre Arts Management degree to their curriculum. With a huge entertainment industry that brings so much directly to us via television and the internet, it can be a challenge to motivate audiences to come to view live theatre instead. What brings business professionals to find a home for their skills in the performing arts?
Some theatres are better than others at attracting and utilizing people who support the arts through their volunteerism. While theatres are benefited by patrons who purchase tickets and benefactors who donate funds, the volunteers who contribute their time and talent to a theatre can be equally as valued.
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre has an impressive body of volunteers serving their needs with dedication and style. Patrons are greeted at the lobby by volunteer hosts holding doors and providing directions. The box office staff is supplemented by volunteers taking reservations and filling orders. Volunteers help stuff envelopes for mailers, and host galas and receptions. A lobby desk where season information is distributed, and the concession stand selling drinks and snacks are also staffed with volunteers. Inside the theatre, the House Manager heads a staff of volunteer ushers to take tickets, pass out programs and seat patrons.
When the theatre has had random costume or prop needs, volunteers have helped in the searches, sometimes donating an appropriate costume or prop of their own. When the theatre staged a production requiring that an actual meal be served on stage during the show, volunteers were the ones who found a caterer able to provide the needed meal at an affordable price. The actors' Green Room at the theatre also owes its furnishings and decor to one of the theatre's volunteers. Their contributions are endless. The energy and enjoyment of the volunteer staff at the Maltz Theatre is so palpable, it is worth a closer look. What makes this volunteer staff so special? Perhaps it is their Director of Volunteers, Anna Berardi-Grant.
John Lariviere: What education, experience and training do you have that has best prepared you for this position?
I was instrumental in the creation of the first federally qualified HMO in the country, based in Rhode Island. I have served as chair of the United Way campaigns, chair of the R.I. Women's Political Caucus, Big Sisters, The Rhode Island State Council of the Arts and Inner City Arts organizations, among others. All of the above required close coordination between various state, federal and local governments and political leadership which led to the beginning of, and my continual passion for, volunteerism associated with the arts and social causes.
Even while I was growing up, each day after school I would volunteer at a day care facility and spend the afternoon reading to children. After finishing my business career and retiring, I continued to pursue volunteer work.
When I finally settled in Jupiter, Florida, I became the Chair of our Homeowners Association welcoming committee. I have been an alternate, member and chair of the Jupiter Beach Committee for the past nine years. From day one I have volunteered at the Jupiter Theatre as Director of Volunteers and Liaison to the Guild; and for the past six years have been a member of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre staff.
JL: What type of person is best suited for this job?
JL: What are your goals for the future?