Lake Dillon Theatre unveils strategic plan
Ryan Summerlin October 18, 2012
Lake Dillon Theatre Company will unveil its new five-year strategic plan to the public at an open meeting Saturday, including a question-and-answer session with artistic director Christopher Alleman and executive director Joshua Blanchard.
Approved by the board of directors in August, the plan includes strategic objectives for finances, fundraising, programs, marketing/branding, governance and facilities broken down into specific, measurable goals. To create it, a nine-person committee of staff, board members and donors, led by banker and facilitator Doug Sims, met seven times (approximately 250 hours) over a two-month period.
“It was a pretty strenuous process but ultimately we’re extremely satisfied with the product,” Alleman said. “When staff has questions about making choices for the future, we now have this document that we can refer to. It’s already been an invaluable guide as we created the budget for next year.”
The 2013 budget, approved last week, includes a provision for a new, full-time, year-round educational coordinator, boosting the number of the theater’s staff to six.
“Education is going to be a big part of our future,” said Alleman. Several of the plan’s programmatic goals speak specifically to education and outreach, calling for increased participation, enrollment and scholarships.
Others goals target financial sustainability – a focus necessitated by the theater’s growth in recent years. Over the last decade, Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s operating budget has jumped from $170,000 to $800,000; in the last four years, the staff has grown from one full-time and one part-time position to five (to be six in 2013) full-timers.
In 2010, the theater earned an Ovation Award from The Denver Post for Best Year by a Company, and 2011 and 2012 saw a significant increase in patron involvement.
The theater now seeks to leverage its success while maintaining stability through projected growth. “We want to make sure our growth is both smart and sustainable,” Alleman said.
Financial goals include annual budgets with a set surplus, an outside review/audit by December 2013 and a reserve of $250,000 by December 2016, among others. Fundraising goals support the financial objective.
The strategic plan also includes a feasibility study for a capital expansion project, slated for December 2015, that will retain the theater’s intimacy while adding storage, office, rehearsal, shop and performance space.
Ultimately, the vision for 2020 is to become a “destination, regional theatre recognized for its quality and variety of work, unique character and intimate experience while having achieved financial stability.”
Already considered a “professional theater” because it pays actors and actresses what is considered a living wage, the theater seeks to become an Actors’ Equity Association “Small Professional Theater” (Level 3) Equity House by March 2013. The designation includes provisions for benefits like health insurance and ultimately makes it easier to hire unionized and age-appropriate actors, Alleman said.
Started 16 years ago as a community theater by a group of “talented, passionate artists,” as Blanchard tells it, the Lake Dillon Theatre Company has evolved to offer high quality and diverse performances year round and in many ways has moved beyond what patrons might expect from a “local” theater.
“We hire 60 to 85 actors, technicians, designers and directors from around the country to work at our theater each year. This includes a small contingent of Summit County theater professionals,” Blanchard said. “The result is high quality productions that are worthy of a destination vacation.”
Theatergoers include a strong base of Front Range patrons who travel to Summit County specifically for LDTC performances. “We are proud of our impact on our community,” Blanchard said. “Not only do our patrons enjoy great theater, they also take advantage of other attractions that Summit County has to offer.”
“This is going to be a great year at the Lake Dillon Theatre,” said Mari Geasair, who came on board as development director this summer. “We think our patrons must already know that intuitively because new volunteer numbers are up and season pass sales for 2013 have already exceeded those for 2012 even though they have only been available for a short while. There is a palpable excitement around the theater right now. We think it is because we took the time to really think through our growth and develop a solid business plan and artistic vision to guide our growth. We can’t wait to answer questions and get feedback from the community.”