As one of Near West Theatre’s staff leaders and editor of the The Near West Circle e-newsletter and blog, I want you, Dear Reader, to know of a change ahead for me. At the end of December I will be leaving the staff and moving into a contract-consultant role with Near West.
Here’s my Near West story. My wife, Kathy Harlow, and I moved to Cleveland from New York City in 1990 and it wasn’t long till she discovered, within stroller-pushing distance, this fun, urban community theater. In 1998, our son, Clifton, was the first to be in a show. The rest of us followed in every way possible – onstage, backstage and front-of-house – right up through daughter Alyssa’s performance in the cast of Move On! earlier this year.
Back in 2011, I gladly accepted the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer. Aided in part by funding from The Cleveland Foundation, its purpose was to lend administrative support to Stephanie in these transitional years, with special attention to the move to our new home at Gordon Square. I’ve never worked harder nor at such a wide and challenging range of tasks. We’ve raised some dollars, communicated extensively, connected with the NWT family and the wider community in new ways, seen the construction project through to the brink of completion, and brought some eager and gifted newcomers on board. As with any good role, the stretch has done me good.
As we move into 2015, I’ll lend a hand with the theater’s communication work and certain transitional tasks as the building is finished and occupied. Otherwise, I’ll catch my breath and freelance a bit while I discern my next vocational steps, looking for places, where, as Fredrick Buechner has famously described it, “your great gladness and the world’s great hunger meet.” Near West Theatre has been, and will continue to be, one such place for me. See you there! Thank you, Stephanie, for the opportunity, and thank you, friends and colleagues, for this rich, three-year journey. — Hans Holznagel
Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.