USITT is on the move. Following two years of intense review and planning, the Board of Directors has just moved to initiate a search for an Executive Director and to begin the gradual shift in our leadership structure to a Governance model. I applaud the Board of Directors in its work to envision a USITT for tomorrow and look forward to working toward these goals.
In an attempt to have a diverse group on each of the committees needed to implement the recently approved governance initiatives, I placed a call for volunteers. I am pleased that over 40 individuals responded. The list included current leaders, representatives from the membership, and at least two students. I am ecstatic to have such a broad and skilled pool from which to fill needed positions and look forward to working on these projects and want to thank personally everyone who responded to my call for volunteers.
By all measures, Cincinnati was a success surpassing the terrific crowd in Houston with over 4,400 in attendance. While many people recall the 1996 Conference in Las Vegas as huge, our numbers have surpassed that mark for the past six years. The conference began with an inspirational Keynote address by D. Lynn Meyers, producing artistic director for ETC.
In another first for USITT, the Keynote, Fellows Address and Induction, and the Jules Fisher sessions were all broadcast live in streaming video in preparation for our 50th celebration in Kansas City. During April, a link from the main USITT web page has allowed visitors to view these events and share with others. Those sessions are now on the recap page for the 2009 Conference and our plan is to do even more sharing in Kansas City.
The USITT @ 50th Planning Committee has been working diligently for over three years to bring you the best USITT has to offer for our celebration next year. We are in the process if confirming four blockbuster speakers who will kick off each day with an all-conference event. Each evening will culminate in a party, and on Saturday we plan to toast with our USITT engraved champagne flutes. This will be an event you will not want to miss.
Securing Our Future, the second half of our theme for the 50th moved into high gear in Cincinnati and continued a significant shift in our focus on giving. In addition to The Bottle being the collector of donations, a blinking dollar sign adorned a top hat worn by Larry Hill as he wandered through conference sessions and Stage Expo. At the banquet, the announced total of $1,391 became a challenge. Zelma Weisfeld, long time member and a Fellow of USITT, immediately matched the sum and the passed hat collected another $725. Currently, these donations are matched 50 percent from USITT’s reserves and placed in the New Century Fund, which supports future student activities.
After four days of spirited campaigning, $5,483 will benefit the Institute's goal of building the principal needed for awards and projects. Another $2,362 was generated by the New Products Showcase, which will benefit the Kook Fund.
Additional efforts by Grants & Fellowships in the 2009 art auction generated an additional $11,100 in revenue to support future grant requests. The Fellowships were announced at the banquet, and Deb Bell will use $4,000 to assist with her research in ceremonial masks with Bruce Auerbach receiving $6,000 to assist his research into the history of light. Combining with the Hat and the Bottle, our total giving campaign produced $25,675. A special thank you goes to Tim Kelly, Larry Hill, and all who assisted with the projects.
As we turn our attention to the Annual Conference in Kansas City and the year long celebration of our 50th anniversary, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to our success. USITT has been successful due to the passion exhibited by our volunteers, contractors, professional staff,and Contributing and Sustaining members all working tirelessly to accomplish the many activities of the Institute.
At the same time, I am reminded of the critical role we play in the world today. We are the problem solvers, the creative visionaries who know how to dream and are then able to turn dreams into reality for others to enjoy. We are the builders of bridges that eliminate barriers we have been told could not be crossed. Let us now begin the journey into the celebration of our 50th anniversary “Honoring our Past and Securing our Future.”