Renaissance Chandelier Restoration 2015 photo by Jeff Sprang

Moving from Success to Significance

by Colleen Cook

When I was in graduate school, I was fortunate to take an intensive course on fundraising for non-profit organizations. I distinctly remember one lecture, in particular, where my professor was unpacking the various reasons why someone chooses to give to an organization. At the time, my husband and I were living in a studio apartment an hour from D.C. on one meager income while I was a full time graduate student, so it was understandably hard for me to wrap my mind around being successful enough that paying the bills wasn’t a big challenge.

“When a person has reached a certain level of success in their personal and professional life, they are no longer just surviving, they’re thriving,” the professor taught. “They’re looking for ways they can positively impact the world around them.”

Admittedly, I’m further down the road than I was at the time, but with three small children at home, I wouldn’t say I’ve “made it” yet. But, I have been so fortunate to learn from many people further down the road than me in the past six years I’ve been on staff at the Ren.

When a person is successful and can look around their world and assess that they have what they need and what they want, they have the privilege to ask themselves, “Now what?” They have been fortunate to have time, talents, and treasures, more than they can use in one lifetime, they can overflow into the world around them. That might mean that they pour into their families, into an individual protégé, a charity, or perhaps they choose to share their success in a meaningful way with their community.

In just the last couple of years at the Renaissance, we’ve been able to witness successful individuals, families, and their designated foundations making a significant impact inside our doors. Just a few things that have happened as a direct result of donations:

  • We’ve been able to offer sensory-friendly musicals at no cost to families with special needs.
  • We have been able to repair, replace, and restore crumbling parts of our facility, shoring it up for the next generation to ensure that the Renaissance can continue to be a cultural hub.
  • We are drastically expanding our footprint to remove blight on our block and expand our programming, with the purchase of two buildings adjacent to our theatre.
  • We have offered reduced-priced tickets to every show in our season, free tickets for those in need, and supported dozens of community fundraisers with ticket donations

If you’re looking for ways to make a lasting impact on your community, connect with our Development Office and we can help you channel your success into significance.

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The Story of a City

This blog is written reposted from Richland Source’s Rising from Rust: SXSW series, and was written by Chelsie Thompson, our organization’s President and one of 15 individuals attending the South By Southwest Conference in Austin with the intention to bring back ideas and to reimagine Richland County. To read more SXSW blogs, click here.


On more than one occasion, I’ve made the mistake of telling my boss that I value professional development more than anything else in a job… and then have had to quickly walk back that statement to make sure he knows I like getting paid, too. But it’s true — I love learning, and for someone who values it so much, this week in Texas at South by Southwest has been the experience of a lifetime.

We started our journey at SXSW as fifteen (mostly) strangers. Every one of these incredible Mansfielders brought something different to the group, and having the chance to get to know them all has only made me admire them more. We’re leaving as friends, comrades who survived the trenches of SXSW, with a shared vision and purpose for the work ahead. We’ve heard from speakers from around the world, celebrities to federal officials to multi-million dollar marketers, and there is so much to bring back to our home city from each of them.

In six days, I tackled nearly two dozen of SXSW’s most promising sessions, and remarkably, every single one somehow touched on a common theme: the cities that are successful throughout the world are the ones that are minimizing the differences that separate them and embracing their shared humanity instead. They ask questions, listen to every voice and involve their citizens in the action. Take these comments from chef and “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern on the experience of his addiction in early life and how it shaped this perspective for him personally.

“I had to go to places to sleep at night, I had to go places to get meals because I was living on the street. I was the guy you crossed the street to avoid,” he said.

“After getting back on my feet and cooking as a nobody in restaurants, I kept feeling like I had to find a way to teach the world about patience, tolerance and understanding because I kept noticing throughout each restaurant that the way people talked about culture was only in terms of the ways that we were divided… In listening, one gains an understanding of the world. We all have to think about ourselves and how we fit into this, but the minute we get out if our heads and ask more questions, it’s a powerful experience.”

In everything he said, both Zimmern and his co-panelist, fellow chef José Andrés, emphasized respect for our fellow human beings. So often, we believe that we know what’s best for others, and without stopping to listen to what people actually want or need, we implement our solution. Andrés cited his trip to Haiti to aid after the 2010 earthquake.

“Beans, beans, everything there is black beans and that’s all we had. I thought, how terrible, there’s only beans, and this village hasn’t eaten in days. So I added rice, and gave them this bean and rice dish,” he said. “When I’m serving the stew I made, they all gathered around the translator… What do they want to tell me? That the beans are no good. It turns out they like their beans like a purée.”

In Andrés’s words, “It’s not helping when people impose what they think you need,” yet the loudest voices are often those who haven’t stopped to listen.

In a keynote with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, I learned about how the moral arc of a city bends towards chaos, not justice, and how social media has made it too easy to spread negativity far and wide. Whether they admit it or not, people say things that they wouldn’t otherwise say to someone directly under the guise of “honesty” without thought of respect. For those that hide behind this, there may never be change — and that’s okay — because their voices become minimized when the rest of the community comes together. But for those brave enough to step out from under this cloak of anonymity and participate in dialogue that is open and well-intentioned, they play a part in a larger cause, one that has the potential to impact tens of thousands in the place that they call home.

Ira Glass said, “Every good story has forward momentum of events.” This is our opportunity to be part of that momentum, to have a voice in our future, to step out of the negativity that has pervaded Mansfield for too long, and to propel the city forward. Our city has a story to tell, and this is just the beginning.”

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Five Affordable Arts Activities for School Breaks

by Colleen Cook

When the routine changes and your kids are home on break, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what to do to keep them learning, entertained, and engaged – especially if the weather isn’t ideal. Here are five fun and educational activities you can do with children of any age – without spending a million dollars!

Experience local art

Breaks from school are the perfect time to engage with your local arts scene, in part because of your extra free time, but especially because you can stretch bedtime a little later than you normally would on a school night. Check your local newspaper’s online calendar to see what’s happening near your home. If you live near us, here are links to a few events calendars:

Mansfield News Journal Events Calendar

Richland Source Events Calendar

Binge a musician

If the weather isn’t cooperating, instead of a Netflix binge, deep dive a musician or composer. Pick an artist or composer, listen to some of their greatest works on Spotify or Apple Music, visit the library and check out their biography, watch YouTube videos of the artist performing or great performances of that artist. Make food together that represents the artist’s local culture. At the end of the day, you’ll all be experts on the musician and you will have created some excellent memories together.

Build a sculpture out of recyclables

We’ve gotten better as a family about separating out our recyclables, and each week we have quite a lot that hits the curb for pickup. Before you send them out, though, grab those leftover Amazon boxes and oatmeal tubs and some masking tape and build a sculpture together. If you have a few children you could challenge them to create the tallest structure together, or a prompt like “build your favorite animal” or “create a dollhouse.” Just be sure to wash out any plastic or glass containers well and watch out for sharp edges on any containers.

Read a story together 

Stories don’t have to be just for bedtime! School breaks are the perfect time to read an extended story together over a handful of days. When choosing your book, consider your child’s attention span and interests, as well as the content of the book. Your local library’s children’s librarian likely has some great suggestions and free, easy access to your ideal book, but you can also utilize tools like this one to select something appropriate and engaging for your family.

Write and perform a play

Have a free day? Create a story together! Start by mapping out your story (you can use this free, handy printable or any graphic organizer like it). Then, create your set utilizing whatever you have available – cardboard, bedsheets, furniture, whatever! Gather costumes for your characters around the house, or visit a local thrift store and find your needed items. Write your script from your story map, or simply map out your scenes and improvise the dialogue. Rehearse it a few times, then invite family and friends to come and enjoy your play. Be sure to pop some popcorn and film it!

 

AND THIS ONE

Three Things Your Child Learns In Music Class

By Audra DeLaney

We all remember walking in a line from our elementary school classroom to the music room. When I was growing up, going to music class was one of my favorite parts of the school day. I loved learning music, from scales to songs, and I also loved learning about musical instruments and their origins. Music class was a bright spot in my primary education and it teaches children more than I realized at the time.

Multicultural Appreciation

In general music curriculum, students are immersed in learning music of other cultures and time periods. As a result, children begin to understand the purpose behind music and musical instruments in a way that curates an appreciation for the art form. Music is a critical part of diversity education because it is the expression of a culture. It is tied to stories, pastimes, and customs of people who have great pride in their cultural history. Music is able to tell years of stories in minutes that would take a story teller hours to convey accurately.

Pattern Recognition

The foundation of music is patterns. Playing music utilizes both hemispheres of the brain, which helps it recognize and replicate patterns. As children move through music education, they begin to realize how repetitive some pieces of music are and how others are so dynamic that the repetition is hard to locate. Pattern recognition supports a child’s growth in the areas of math and language, thus adding to their knowledge and understanding for their future endeavors. Music class helps children build skills in pattern recognition so they may make strides in careers having to do with technology like computer science, not to mention careers in music itself.

Collaboration

From playing classroom instruments, like glockenspiels and recorders, to performing in collegiate symphonies, music is made most frequently in a group. Working together with other people is vital to the development of healthy, productive adults. When an ensemble performs a piece of music, a performer learns that their role is important, no matter how small it is, and that each role brings something to the whole performance that is necessary. Playing or singing music together helps to develop patience with others and accountability for themselves, which are skills they will need all their lives. As a musician, you develop pride in your accomplishments and acknowledge the need for others outside of yourself.

Music demands collaboration, listening and patience. Singing songs, playing instruments, participating in musical games and learning about the origins of different types of music has the ability to change a child’s life. The child may develop a soft spot for music and arts education, as I have, or the may develop an intense passion for playing and composing music in the hopes of influencing others like those before them influenced them. Music class enhances education at all ages and is needed, like art, physical education and computer skills,  to keep learning creative and engaging.

 

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What is the Kennedy Center Partners in Education?

by Colleen Cook

The Renaissance is a proud member of the Partners in Education program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Starting in 2010, the Renaissance has been collaborating with the Mansfield Art Center and Mansfield City Schools to provide high quality professional development to educators in our region through workshops, conferences, trainings, and in-classroom teaching on topics related to arts integration. Workshops are open to any area teacher or school administrator, and are a fun, valuable opportunity to gain contact hours towards Continuing Education Credits (CEUs).

Arts integration is a tool that is meaningful for all educators, not just arts specialists. “Arts Integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both,” according to the Kennedy Center.

Our community has strongly supported the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program for several years, and this year has been no exception. Support from the Ohio Arts Council, the Key Bank Foundation, and Charles P. Hahn, Cleveland Financial have underwritten this valuable program to keep it free for educators to attend each training!

This school year, we’ve been able to offer a summer institute along with three evening workshops for educators. Each workshop during the academic year is paired with a full day of demonstration teaching within Mansfield City Schools. Because demonstration teaching utilizes the specific arts-integrated lessons that teachers will learn to create during the teaching artist’s workshop, demonstration teaching not only offers a valuable opportunity for teachers to observe the teaching artist’s method of delivery, but it also shows the immediate impact of using arts integration as a teaching approach in the classroom.

In addition, the Mansfield Partners in Education team launched a teaching artist training program for local artists in September 2017. Sixteen artists were selected for the extended program, through which artists will observe several Kennedy Center teaching artists in action during workshops and demonstration teaching, as well as participate in the Kennedy Center’s intensive seminars for teaching artists over the next three years. The aim of the teaching artist training program is to grow a cadre of fully-vetted local teaching artists who both supplement the professional development opportunities that the partnership currently offers and provide additional post-workshop follow-up, demonstration teaching, and arts-integrated coaching in North Central Ohio schools.

Educators interested in participating in the Kennedy Center Partners in Education trainings can find out about upcoming events here, by contacting Chelsie Thompson at chelsie@mansfieldtickets.com, or by watching our Facebook page for event posting.

Mindsprouts2016_PhotobyJeffSprang

Mindsprouts: Creative Writing

By Audra DeLaney 

Children channel their creativity in many different ways. Some love to tell stories, others enjoy writing poems, and some combine both ideas and put on a play or a musical. Mindsprouts, a program in the Renaissance Education Department, invites students in Kindergarten through 12th grade to creatively write on a theme. Their pieces are juried and the best of the submissions are staged in our annual showcase.

The project is open to children in public, private and home schools. Each year, a theme is chosen to inspire students, but to not restrain their creativity. We encourage teachers to discuss with the students the elements of a story: beginning, middle, end, character development and conflict/resolution. More advanced writing techniques are expected to be evident in upper grade submissions.

This year, the Mindsprouts theme is “Fantastic Fables.” Interested students can read the full guidelines and theme details here. Our MindSprouts Sixth Annual Showcase will be presented this spring. Submissions are due at the end of March, so be sure to enter!

Meet Our Bach to Rock® Finalists!

Toward the end of 2017, we had a singing contest inviting local performers to submit videos of themselves singing pop and rock songs. Once their videos were submitted, we invited the public to vote to select their favorite performers to choose a top 10 by the end of 2017.

From the top 10 finalists, the top 5 vote earners were invited to perform their song along with the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra on our Bach to Rock® concert on March 24, 2018. Take a look at these incredible singers!

 

See Them Live at Bach to Rock® on March 24

Mike Miller & Chelsie Thompson; photos by Jeff Sprang and Isaac Coffy

LEADERSHIP EXPANDS AT THE RENAISSANCE TO SET THE STAGE FOR FUTURE SUCCESS

With an eye to the future and a commitment to the present, the Renaissance Performing Arts Association is undertaking a reorganization in leadership intended to set the stage for a second century of providing arts, education and entertainment to Mansfield and surrounding communities.

Michael Miller, who has served as the Renaissance Performing Arts Association’s President and CEO since 2010, will become the CEO of the non-profit organization effective March 1. Miller will represent the organization in the community and focus on broadening the base of support for the Renaissance.

Responsibility for day-to-day operations of the Renaissance will shift to Chelsie Thompson, who has been on staff at the Renaissance since 2010 and most recently served as Executive Director.  Thompson has been promoted to President of the Renaissance Performing Arts Association and will lead the staff in its continuing efforts to provide meaningful arts, entertainment, and educational experiences for the North Central Ohio region and beyond.

Miller stated, “As we just celebrated our 90th Anniversary, this restructuring will allow me to concentrate on locking in the support and resources we will need as we strive to achieve our vision. I have full confidence in Chelsie’s leadership of the staff and operations of the Renaissance and am excited to see the Renaissance further live into its vision.”

“I am thrilled to accept this new assignment, but at the same time humbled by the trust and support of the Renaissance Board in making this change,” said Thompson. “I believe that my education and experience, as well as my passion for the performing arts, all combine to prepare me for this opportunity,” she continued.  ”We have a lot of work to do, but I believe that our outstanding staff is ready to take us to the next level.”

Rand Smith, President of the Renaissance Board of Directors, added, “It’s unusual for an organization of our size to have two such talented and capable leaders.  Our Board members fully support Mike and Chelsie in their new assignments and will work closely with them to secure our future.”

JesseDomkaMSYS2017_PhotobyJeffSprang

It’s Music in Our Schools Month

March is Music in Our Schools Month!

Many of our patrons, and most of our performers and staff have been influenced greatly by their music educators throughout their formative years. At the Renaissance, we consider it one of our highest priorities to supplement and support our local arts educators with resources and programming that will extend their arts curriculum. We are able to offer 15,000 students each year opportunities to perform, watch, and learn through the arts!

If you’d like to learn about our many educational initiatives, you can find out more here.

Be sure to thank your music educators this month – they often have class sizes three or more times bigger than the typical classroom teacher, work longer hours for little or no more pay, and many of them have to stand up in front of every parent multiple times a year to lead their students in showcasing their work. They deserve great recognition for the lives they are impacting!

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From Cirque to Soleil to Hunchback – Meet Brad Cronenwett

by Colleen Cook

In last week’s blog, we highlighted a handful of our region’s talented individuals involved with our production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which runs March 3-4, 11-12). If there’s one thing we’re passionate about, it’s providing top-notch arts and entertainment put together by the countless talented musicians, artists, performers, technicians, and creatives in our region.

This week, we’re going to dig in with someone you may not already know, whose work will take Hunchback to a different level. Bradley Cronenwett was born and raised in Shelby, and has gone on to do big things in the industry – most recently working with Cirque du Soleil!

Colleen Cook: What is your background? How did you get from Shelby to Cirque du Soleil?

Bradley Cronenwett: I was born and raised in Shelby, and have been an Ohioan for most of my life. While growing up I was an active part of The Ren community helping design productions with the resident designer at the time, Don Pontious. I really credit him for all of my lighting knowledge because he was such an integral part of my passion for lighting.

Through the years doing multiple types of production, working at The Walt Disney resort, and continuing to grow my knowledge in the field I began to apply for Cirque. I made lots of connections along the way, and we all know how small this world is, especially in production. As the news began traveling, one thing led to another and I began interviewing for positions.

I certainly did not get the first job I applied for. It was probably a span of six months of waiting and interviewing before I finally got the golden ticket. I joined Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna in Amsterdam, April of 2016.

CC: How did you get involved with Hunchback?

BC: While attending a preview of A Christmas Carol the cast, myself and Michael Thomas all when out to dinner after the rehearsal and we discussed my current adventures with Cirque. I had mentioned that I was back in Ohio to help with the Richland Academy’s production of The Nutcracker which I think sparked a conversation. Later on Michael and I spoke about the show and I continued to express my interest in helping out. So here I am!

CC: What is your vision for the lighting design in Hunchback? What has inspired you, and what can the audience expect?

BC: My vision for designing the Hunchback lighting was to keep certain design elements in the show as true to the actual cathedral as best as we could. Earlier this month I  was on holiday in Paris, and visited the cathedral. I studied the shadows, the colors, how the light interacted with the cold stone pillars, and of course admired the colors of the beautiful stained glass windows.

We want to take the entire theater to Paris for a brief moment and let them experience how the cathedral must have looked in 1482. Of course the cathedral is just one setting in the show. The lights will adapt to the scene, and enhance the beautiful set, complement the costumes, and all without much notice to the audience, and that’s all by design.

Bradley continues his journey with Cirque du Soleil joining the newest Big Top show, VOLTA, touring here in the United States. You can see his work on our stage at The Hunchback of Notre Dame, March 3-4, 11-12, 2018. Get Tickets Here!