I would like to talk today about how I view the company's past and present and how I think that affects how we can shape our collective future. For me, the past starts when I became a Savoyard in the mid-1980's and ends around the time our relationship with the church began to change, circa 2016. The present I view from that point through perhaps next year. And our future will naturally follow.

The Past

From my view, I call the past our "sandbox", that time when we could do what we wanted when we wanted. We could make a profit or not. If we did, we could give it all to UMCOR or a similar charity, often with little regard for a prudent reserve. All we really worried about was which show was next in our rotation of the G&S canon and who we would be interviewing for the producer and director slots for that show.

It was as if we were little toddlers whose parents sent us out to play in a sandbox with a tin pail and shovel. We built lots and lots of pretty sandcastles as we and our friends entertained ourselves. Each one of those fantastic houses was different and each one was also ephemeral. It would take us about a year to build one and then we would tear it down and start all over again.

But just like a small child in a sandbox, we never had to worry about how our parent's house got paid for or what it took to keep the lights on at night. It was the freedom of childhood. In concrete terms, I put it this way:

  • We had the freedom to concentrate on our friends, our Community
  • We had the freedom to concentrate on each little sandcastle, each production
  • We had the freedom to not worry about what our parents worried about: money

The Present

But that was then and now is now. And just as surely as we were toddlers in the past, we are no longer toddlers in the present.

It feels to me just like growing up. I can still clearly remember when I drove out of the driveway of my family home for the last time. I knew I was never going to come back and live there as I had in the past. I would always feel different when I visited. I would have to take on responsibility for my own independence. From that day forward, I knew I would have to chart my own future. My parents wished me well but they would no longer bear that responsibility. That was now mine and mine alone. And also from that day forward, I knew I would have to worry about ... money.

And I think we Savoyards are in a similar situation with the church:

  • In a sense, we are moving out
  • We are now responsible for ourselves
  • We are now responsible for our own financial future
  • And we must create that financial future in order to continue

The Future

Remember when you had to plan a budget that first time? Remember those first few rent checks? Remember the feeling of going to the store to buy food for just yourself and no one else?

We Savoyards are going through those growing pains right now. We now have our own bills to pay. And now we have to plan our own budget in order to keep our lights on. Our lights, no one else's.

And deep in my heart, I know this to be true:

We will thrive when we plan to thrive

Long term plans are the key. Those short term show plans we worry about every year? Those plans are built from the long term plans that the Board of Trustees puts in place, both for a single year, and also for our longer term. That is their job and they are learning how to build plans that will serve us for years to come.

Our short term plans are built on our long term plans. And I think our long term plans should be built around our Savoyards culture and core:

  • Focus on our Savoyards community
    • What do we want for our community?
    • How will we achieve our goal of building a strong Savoyards community?

  • Define and focus on our role in the outside community
    • How large is our outside community?
    • What is the physical extent of that community?
      • Sudbury and Maynard
      • within 10 miles?
      • within 50 miles?
    • what do our audiences want?

  • Define and focus on what we want for our Art
    • musical theater
      • G&S
      • what else?
        • only Grand Scale?
          • Follies
          • Oklahoma
          • King and I
        • what about shows like "The Fantasticks"?
    • non-musical theater
      • traditionally summer shows have explored this
      • move them out of the summer
    • collaboration with other arts organizations
      • working with dance studios to bring dance into our repertoire
      • working with colleges/universities to bring in new theater and new audiences

    And lastly, we need the help of each person who is able and willing to step up. We are just beginning our long range planning, but I can say even at this early stage that it will take much more work than we have invested in the past.

    To thrive into the future, we need each of you. If you can volunteer to be on the Board, or work on a committee, or have the willingness to do anything at all, please contact the Chair of the Board (a link on sudburysavoyards.org) and help us.

    Our future is bright. And it will be all the brighter with your help.

    James Ravan
    2017 Yeoman of Regard Honoree
    June 4, 2017

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