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USITT members are diverse, with varied interests and ideas, so an effort is now underway to better quantify membership.

Photo/Tom Thatcher

Better Defining Who We Are

David Grindle
Executive Director

What do we do, and who do we work with? We’ve all had to answer that type of question. Friends and family members ask, and the answer is something like “I’m a designer” or “I’m a technician” and the response is a polite nod of the head, but there is still a lack of understanding of what we do and who we are among most of the general population.

As we develop additional benefits of membership, we are also working to develop a profile of not just what we do, but who we are. We are collecting this information so we can provide it in quantifiable terms using measures which are standard to those outside our industry. USITT members should have a voice large enough to be heard, yet I am constantly asked the question, “Who are you,” when I’m speaking to “non-theatre” companies interested in offering benefits for our members.

We see ourselves as artists, technicians, managers – terms understood by others working in theatre and live performing arts. Benefits are all about marketing, and corporations are looking to market their products and services to organizations whose members can be “identified” in specific categories. As we ask to be considered for corporate discounts or other benefits which members are seeking, we are developing statistics to provide the information important to potential partners.

Additionally, we are beginning to seek funding for our activities from foundations and corporations. These are organizations that USITT has not previously approached, and many want to know details about the members of the organizations they are funding. For example, Lowe’s Corporation asks us about our member’s income, sexual orientation, and age. All of these details are private, of course, but collectively they show the diverse markets and buying power which can be reached by investing in USITT.

By seeking new funding streams for existing projects, we will be able to enhance others or start something new. It is all about finding new ways to bring benefit for your membership dollar.

In July, a survey was sent to all members seeking help in answering some basic demographic questions. Additionally, the survey asked opinions on current benefits and suggestions for new ones. Those questions will be used to be sure our efforts in creating new benefits will be meaningful. USITT has already formed an alliance with Fractured Atlas to provide insurance benefits to interested members and answers to survey questions will help as we move forward with these efforts.

I worked with Martha Marking, VP-Members, Sections & Chapters, to create the July survey. The information obtained is confidential and can not be linked to any individual. In addition, no question was “required” and each demographic question included a “prefer not to respond” option.

However, the information will greatly assist us by showing corporations and foundations the value in developing a relationship with USITT by providing benefits or funding.

By the time this appears, the survey will be over. Martha and I thank all of those who participated because the statistical information we collect will lead to a stronger Institute for you, the members.

Editor’s Note: Almost 600 members completed the survey in the 96 hours it was available. That number gives us a great statistical snapshot of USITT.

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