Monthly Archives: April 2018

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.

chelsiesxsw

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.”

arts activities for school break renaissance theatre

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!