July 2016

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July 2016

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Thanking a Leader of the Loft Block Society

David Grindle Executive Director

Loft Blocks are underappreciated in our world.

They guide and support rigging lines. They give direction and keep things running smoothly high above us. They make it possible for rigging systems to do their work in an orderly fashion which keeps the theatre safe and allows for creativity and artistic growth.

USITT’s planned giving program was recently named the Loft Block Society for that very reason. Planned gifts, typically gifts that are received after someone dies, are great ways that people can make a lasting financial impact on an organization they hold dear. The Institute's current Loft Block Society members have informed us of a financial gift for USITT in their estate planning. We are thankful for their generosity and commitment to USITT and hope that you might consider joining the ranks of the Loft Block Society as you make your own estate plans.

In March I wrote about the death of Sarah Nash Gates, past president of USITT. Sarah had many titles that followed her name. She was a Costume Designer, Fellow of USITT, and Past President. She was a mentor, leader, and educator. Sarah was the first woman elected to lead USITT. She was also a visionary and a friend.

Sarah liked to surprise people. The photo above is legendary in USITT history. For her first conference as president, she rode in on a horse. I came to learn that Sarah loved her horses. That image, riding in on a horse, in American film often means the hero has arrived to save the day. While I don’t know that Sarah “saved” USITT, she certainly was a hero. Her leadership and forward thinking became counsel for many leaders to come, including me.

Riding out on a horse at the end of the film meant the town was safe. The hero had gone on to new things and all was well. That was, in some ways, Sarah’s departure from this world. We are better for her presence. I tell you all of these things because this woman on a horse, who loved surprises, got the last surprise.

Sarah left a bequest to USITT as part of the Loft Block Society. We were very honored to receive the news of this planned gift and got to thank Sarah in life, and also expressed our thanks to her family after her death. Sarah, being ever organized, had her estate in order and we all received forms to sign prior to her death. Just recently we received the gift from Sarah’s family according to her wishes. Then we got a phone call about a gift from Sarah. We thanked the financial advisor and let them know we had received the check. They said “Oh no, this about the other accounts.”

Sarah, in her love for USITT, had let us know about one gift, but somehow we missed the other two she had prepared. Sarah Nash Gates was a loft block. She quietly did her work supporting and guiding USITT, and left behind two more gifts to support the Institute for years to come.

The board is honoring Sarah’s wish that the money grow and we will know what to do with it at the right time. She didn’t ask that we name anything for her. She didn’t dedicate the money to any specific purpose. She gave a gift that in the words of Michael Kaiser showed the greatest faith anyone can have in an organization, unrestricted giving. Thank you, ┬áSarah, for leading us even in death. As I wrote in March, I will always ask your questions as a leader.

“If we do this, how do we do it well?”

“How can we make it better?”

“How can we be the best?”