Enjoying a little ink

We’re smiling today about a headline — “‘Hairspray’ staging gets cool support” — at the top of the Metro section of Cleveland’s daily paper, The Plain Dealer (Sat., July 28, Page B1). “Tipoff” columnist Mike McIntyre got interested in our air conditioning story when he came to Hairspray, the Broadway Musical opening weekend, saw the bodacious equipment attached to the side of the building, and, once inside, heard how hot it usually is and how much we’re enjoying the rare and generous treat of not sweltering through a summer youth production. (He enjoyed the show, too, by the way.)  The online version of his column is here, complete with the picture below, which we were happy and eager to let him use. It’s a fun column and we’re glad for it. We’re also grateful for a mention in Julie Washington’s “Pop Ten” in The Sunday Plain Dealer on July 22.

Ink is good as black gold to a nonprofit theater with a small promotional budget and almost no advertising dollars. Cleveland is theater-rich, and a daily like The Plain Dealer has to limit what its arts staff can cover and review. Our professionally designed and directed NWT shows offer a high quality of art that, we regularly hear, far exceeds audience expectations. But our actors are volunteers, so we fall in the community-theater category and thus outside arts coverage and reviews in Northeast Ohio’s largest daily. The “community” label is not bad; our mission, after all, includes building relationships and serving the community with transformational theater arts. It’s just that we’re doggoned proud of the art, too. We dream that someday we will less often hear a stunned first-time patron say, “That show was amazing.  You’ve been here almost 35 years? How come I never heard of you?”

But let us not gripe. The work of promotion is ours, not journalists’.  We need to make the quality of our shows and the social impact of our work with kids and adults from the city and suburbs better known. We remain extremely thankful for the valuable free listings we get in places like the PD’s “Friday!” sectionScene Magazine, and coolcleveland.com, which help theatergoers find us. Our spring production of Ragtime had a wonderful radio segment on WCPN’s “Around Noon.” We do our best to promote our art, mission and impact via this blog, our website, Facebook, an e-newsletter and so on. Advertising, and a budget for it, need to be in our future. Meantime, we’ll keep honing a mix  of social media, word of mouth, direct mail, neighborhood fliers, news releases, window posters and relationships — and smiling at every major column or feature story like today’s.

AC and generator, July 21, 2012

This picture of our rented Hairspray air conditioning system made the online edition of The Plain Dealer July 28. Photo by Hans Holznagel

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About Near West Theatre

Our Mission Statement: "Near West Theatre builds loving relationships and engages diverse people in strengthening their sense of identity, passion, and purpose, individually and in community, through transformational theatre arts experiences." View all posts by Near West Theatre

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