End of Year Letter Dec 8, 2020
Dear Art Lovers,
We’re in the final stretch of what might be the worst year anyone can remember, and grateful for the community that has buoyed us through 2020. As inspiration for this letter, I’m listening to the raucous, joyful, jangly 1967 Tremeloes album, Even the Bad Times are Good. Feels apt.
This year has been Bad Times. We’ve learned, we lost, we’ve pivoted, pivoted, pivoted, we’ve adapted. I’ve been scared for what this year means for live performance. We worry about what this year means for our city. We wonder what it means for On the Boards. Even the bad times are good, as long as I’m here with you, baby. I can’t fathom surviving 2020 thus far without my co-pilot, Rachel Cook, without our dedicated board and staff, (Alex, Alyssa, Charles, Clare, Erica, Sara Ann, Kate, Katy, Nabilah, Rich, Pamala, Samie, and Yashar) or without people like you.
On the Boards met the onset of these fears and the initial panic of the pandemic with a gift. From March through June, we offered OntheBoards.tv FREE of charge to all visitors --scholars and housebound art lovers from over 25 countries around the globe! We Zoomed community screenings of performance from our friends’ living rooms. New OntheBoards.tv users grew by over two thousand percent!
We were heartbroken to postpone performances when the pandemic hit, but early on, OtB Artistic Director Rachel Cook, committed to paying ALL ARTIST FEES to each of the artists we had planned to work with, regardless of our ability to sell tickets. If OtB has committed to a project, and the artist has planned for that income, we believe they deserve to be paid. We need each other to continue to create an arts ecosystem, it doesn’t work if we don’t support one another.
Through it all, artists remain at the center of what we do. Our north star is investing in artists and connecting them to audiences – and even THIS YEAR, we’ve done it. We have never for a minute wavered from our mission.
- On the Boards was the site for the World Premiere of A THOUSAND WAYS: Part One, A Phone Call; and the U.S. Premiere of A THOUSAND WAYS: Part Two, an Encounter.
- Virtually Spectacular, hosted by Betty Wetter, featured performances by Justin Vivian Bond and Christeene – and will go down in On the Boards, and maybe Seattle history as the most joyful online art party EVER.
- In the creation of Acting Stranger, artists Andrew Schneider, Fox Whitney, and Minna Lee turned the camera on Seattleites for a performance film that premiered in our parking lot.
- We turned the parking lot into a drive-in.
- Award-winning playwright Tina Satter led two OtB playwriting workshops
- We launched Sweet Virtual Vibes with DJ SassyBlack,
- We hosted Fox Whitney and Gender Tender; and Markeith Wiley for digital residencies
- We continue to provide our artists in residence, and artists in our community with safe, clean, rehearsal space – with COVID-safety protocols in place.
- All these efforts are not a secret, we’ve earned media attention this year from The New Yorker, the New York Times, The Guardian, New York Magazine, The Seattle Times, The Stranger, Crosscut, and KUOW.
On top of all that, we launched a new membership program. We are so grateful that you’re here, on this planet, reading this letter. While this year has been brutal, we’ve been able to get a whole lot done. We miss our live audiences, and of course, our ticket sales and social events at OtB. This new landscape has had an impact on the funds we’ve been able to raise. We’ve tightened our belts and pulled them in another notch or two.
We know our supporters are being pulled in many worthy directions this year – and we beg your consideration. For On the Boards to continue, to invest in artists, and for us to remain here, and ready ourselves to welcome you back with open arms, when it’s safe to do so, we need you. Your contribution means more than ever this year. We also know that this year has been incredibly hard – in a myriad of ways. If you can’t contribute at this time – we get it. Let us know how we can be here for you. In challenging times, art can inspire, delight, distract, and bring us closer together.
The images here were made by Cass Sachs-Michaels, inspired by A THOUSAND WAYS. I’ll close this with a note from Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone, the artists who are 600 Highwaymen.
At this extraordinary existential moment for performing artists around the world, we need On the Boards and similar organizations now more than ever. They are nimble and passionate, adventuresome, and virtuosic. For every ounce of care that an artist puts into their work, they match it with their own care for their audiences and their artists.
May intelligence, equity, art, and beauty prevail in 2021! We can’t wait to see you in the lobby again.
Happy Holidays, In Solidarity
Betsey Brock, Executive Director & Rachel Cook, Artistic Director