April 2016

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April 2016

News From Mark Shanda, USITT President

Making Choices to Best Serve Members

Mark Shanda USITT President

Every day, each of us is faced with a variety of decisions from a multitude of choices. We decide when to get up, the sequence of our morning routine, what to wear, and what to eat.

The very heart of our design industry is about making choices to tell a story, to fit a performance space, to stay within a budget, and to achieve a significant outcome. We are a decision-making art form!

Within the leadership of USITT, the Board and Officers constantly work on behalf of our members to make choices. Our touchstone for choosing a path is, “How will this benefit our members?”

While we place that question as paramount, we also consider other questions in our attempts to live out the Institute’s mission.

How can we raise the quality of the work that our members do?

We strive to offer educational programming that ranges from the early career student to the most seasoned professional. Looking back at the programming at our recent Annual Conference & Stage Expo, there were offerings designed to meet our members right where they are in their personal development.

But it doesn’t end in March! Watch for announcements of our commitment to year-round programming available throughout the country.

How can we use our resources to affect the entertainment industry?

With our Gateway Program, we use Institute resources to do a better job engaging minority members. While theatre is fairly open and accepting, the Board recognizes that we must make intentional efforts in our diversity and inclusion efforts. Our hope is that the Institute serves as a model for others in the industry to reach out to marginalized individuals and that, over time, we see a change in our membership that better reflects society’s complex diversity.

With our Grants & Fellowship offerings, we attempt to support research that both helps us celebrate our heritage and enables technological advances. This is an area in which we anticipate some significant changes very soon, establishing a more stable funding base and some specific Institute goals.

While the Board can imagine many advances, we face two limitations affecting the choices we make: time and money. As a volunteer organization, each of our leaders must constantly check their engagement versus their day jobs. Not surprisingly, one way we have offset this challenge is to spread the load. We have many more volunteers actively engaged in the work of the Institute than at any other time in our history, but there is always room for more. So get involved!

We are financially healthy, but we must make strategic choices on how to use available resources. Education, diversity, and research have seemingly infinite needs, but dollars are finite. With your active engagement--increased member giving of both time and money--and through careful decision making by the board, we can achieve even more.

Mark Shanda

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail Mark at Shanda.1@osu.edu.