An open letter to artists about changes at OtB May 5, 2017

by Betsey Brock

Hi. You’re great and we love you. Seriously, we do. We want to make sure you’re in the loop on recent changes at OtB. We’ve got the road map of a smart strategic plan, the hardest working staff in show business, and board leadership that cares deeply about us.

After almost 15 years at On the Boards, Lane Czaplinski is leaving to become Director of Performance for the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.  OtB has benefitted immensely from Lane’s talent and vision. He produced more than 80 new works, and created, now used in 157 countries, all 50 states, and at 110 universities. Other initiatives sparked during Lane’s tenure — like Studio Suppers, The Ticket Bank, and the Ambassador Project — will continue to demonstrate OtB’s hospitality and community connection. Plus, he planned a fantastic 2017-2018 Season!

As an organization that presents risk-taking new performance, we are quite comfortable with change. New energy is important. And we continue to be fiscally strong and smart, and we know many key things about On the Boards that remain steadfast and true. Here are just a few:  

  • On the Boards puts artists first.  We invest in artists near and far – and value them as leaders and community connectors who inspire, enrich peoples' lives, and contribute to civic and global dialogues.
  • We create a comfortable space for all kinds of people to meet ideas that might feel uncomfortable.
  • We embrace racial and social equity to ensure our organization includes multiple viewpoints
  • We value good hospitality, and we like to have fun.

On the Boards’ reputation is stellar, nationally, internationally, and locally – both as a place for great art, and as a terrific place to work. Our search committee is working to create opportunities for artists to connect with them during the search process, and we look forward to providing ample opportunities to welcoming (and celebrating) new artistic leadership WITH you. If you have considerations, we want to hear them. Our ears are open.

Meanwhile, while we plan for new artistic leadership – we’re also actively planning for the future. Our incredibly talented production team of Mark Meuter, Rich Bresnehan, and Julian Martlew are here working with artists on our stages and in Performance Production Program residencies. Charles Smith, Director of Program Management, continues to coordinate Open Studio – our platform for trying out new and experimental work. Next season, OtB will partner with Base: Experimental Arts + Space to co-host the performance lab 12 Minutes Max after its hiatus (look for more news this summer), and we’re excited to announce that Clare Strasser has been promoted to the new position of Associate Producer – a role designed specifically to advocate for local artists working at OtB and in the community, and to support partnerships and audience engagement. We’ve also got two Board / Search Committee members, Annette Toutonghi and John Robinson, who are specifically devoted to the task of keeping artists in the loop, gathering information, and hearing hopes and challenges from OtB’s artist community.

We just announced our 17/18 season – and we’re delighted that Dani Tirrell, Alice Gosti, Evan Flory-Barnes, Frank Boyd, Cherdonna and Kate Wallich are part of it. We’re also presenting Belarus Free Theater (featuring Maria from Pussy Riot), Bebe Miller, Forced Entertainment, Kaneza Schaal, Tamara Saulwick, and Graham Reynolds + Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol + Shawn Sides – we’re also already in conversations about 2018/2019 with artists we’re hoping to present.

Talk to us. We care about transparency, and while we are still pretty early in this process, we are happy to share what we do know with our friends; and we look forward to keeping you posted. We’re still here. We’re still working for you. And though some things are changing, the best parts will stay the same. You are why we’re here, and our success in this transition is only possible with YOU on our team.


Betsey, Annette, and John


PS. Looking forward to seeing you at On the Boards this weekend for The People’s Republic of Valerie. I cried some happy tears about the Bright Future Kristen Kosmas and her collaborators have proposed. OtB wants to live in that Bright Future with you all.