Shakespeare in the Park was recently notified that we will receive a grant from The Brico Fund! Once we finished jumping up and down, we asked Executive Director Anne Summers if we could chat with her about the Fund and her work there. She was gracious enough to indulge us! Read on to learn more!
The Brico Fund was founded by Lynde Uihlein with the mission to build "the collective capacity of people and organizations to actively and sustainably improve the civic, cultural and natural environments." Brico's specific areas of interest are the Arts, Environment and Democracy.
Anne explained that the spirit of the Brico mission is building quality of life for everyone. They are interested in building organizational capacity, including to broaden access to arts in the community. The organization intentionally works to support art with diversity of reach and location, and socially relevant missions -- especially where Brico's involvement won't overlap with traditional theater/arts funding.
What struck Brico about the “fit” of Shakespeare in the Park into the Fund’s investment areas?
The Brico Fund is increasingly interested in making grants at the intersection of its three interest areas: democracy, environment and the arts. Specifically, to seek out organizations that are already synthesizing those foci. As such, Shakespeare in the Park's populist ethos – reflecting the audience in the production, and intentionally anchoring everything that it does in the artistic and democratic spheres -- appeals to that larger giving philosophy.
What brought you to the field of philanthropy and to Brico?
I was attracted to the ability to use philanthropy as a leverage point for change. The Brico Fund has a particularly "open view" in term of funding. We are willing to innovate and experiment in ways that many foundations are not. Our charge is to help build stronger community and increase quality of life, but in doing that, we have the opportunity to create strategy. While we offer traditional core operating grants, we can also take greater risk outside of the status quo -- to make a statement in the community. Brico is willing to be a trailblazer and a maverick, make mistakes and learn from them in order to improve our grant-making, all in service of knitting the fabric of Milwaukee more tightly together.
What is the greatest challenge of your work at The Brico Fund?
The stereotype that it’s a cushy job – writing checks and sending money. I find it the most challenging and difficult work I've done. Part of that is because grant-making is not only role. There is a lot of sharing of relationships, and serving as a connector within the community.
Another challenge, if you will, is the ability to see the importance of capacity-building in the life of an organization. Without that step up on that front end, in order to enable growth, good ideas wouldn’t get the time required to "figure it out."
And, Brico is always working with our funded organizations to get honest feedback -- both so that we can be a better partner to them, by helping them "figure it out" through our own experiences, but also to make us a better grant-maker. Challenges are expected, and set-backs happen. Our ability to work with our organizations from a position of understanding that in a supportive way, in the end, helps everyone learn how to do what we do better.
At the end of the day, we try to really live our values in the organizations that we fund. HOW and WITH WHOM matter as much as WHAT we do -- being practical about direction. One of the most rewarding aspects is to see the power that even small amounts of money have, especially when we are able to accompany that money with our other relationships, which can magnify effects into BIG results.
Other than yourself (!), who should play you in the feature film of your life?
Morgan Freeman? Gene Hackman? Robert deNiro? People who play characters who have learned a lot in their lives – through mistakes, experiences, successes, are very reflective and open and engaging about that; understated, but play a key strategic role…very real. Those actors seem to play those kinds of parts regularly, so they come to mind.
What Shakespeare character do you most resemble?
Equal parts Titania, Lady Macbeth and Portia? I think?
Tragedy, comedy or history?
Truth or dare?
Taking the time to read a book (the thicker the better)...and eating Oreo cookies.
More about Anne:
An Illinois native, Anne holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters of Business Administration degree from Cardinal Stritch University. Prior to coming to the Brico Fund in 2004, Anne held positions as a senior leader in private nonprofit organizations and in the government sector. Her national leadership roles include the board of directors for the League of Conservation Voters, the Youth Engagement Fund and the Funders Committee for Civic Participation. She was a founder and first board chair of State Voices and helped found its Wisconsin affiliate, Wisconsin Voices. In her local community of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she serves on the board for the (Milwaukee) Harbor District, co-hosts the Collaborative Fund to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and previously served on the board of the Donors Forum of Wisconsin.
Anne’s professional and personal values intersect seamlessly, focusing on interdependence, fairness and equality. She has been a pioneer in the field of philanthropy, committed to idea testing, systematic evaluation and impact measurements that demonstrate collective action to create long-term change in communities. With her passion for innovation, combined with a focus on the next generation of leaders, Anne develops and mentors newer leaders across a variety of sectors. Under her leadership, Brico Fund has successfully modeled and led a new way of community investment that maximizes the potential for social change beyond the confines of more traditional philanthropy. She has co-authored and published an article for The Foundation Review titled “Weaving an Impactful Network” that details the Fund’s willingness to test the power dynamic of the traditional funding partnership. A state leader in capacity building of the nonprofit sector, Anne frequently presents and writes on this and other topics in Wisconsin and throughout the United States.
Visit The Brico Fund's website ~ jump straight to the page with the back story of the cavalier boots logo (scroll down)
If you're a Summer Sponsor and made a reservation for one of the limited reservable spaces, here's what you do with it when you come to the show!
If you're NOT yet a Summer Sponsor, but would like to become one, check it out here!
A big Optimist Theatre "Thank You"
is going out to the American Family Foundation, for your 2015 Premiere Sponsorship of Shakespeare in the Park.
From AmFam's Corporate Sponsorship webpage:
American Family Insurance protects dreams by helping strengthen and support individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities. Every year, our Corporate Giving Program provides more than $2.5 million in contributions and countless hours of volunteer work to nonprofit, charitable and community organizations throughout our 19 operating states. We also sponsor events and activities that build stronger ties with customers through memorable, beneficial experiences.
American Family's corporate giving focuses on the areas of Human Services, through local United Way chapters and organizations like Neighborhood Housing Services, the American Red Cross and Second Harvest Foodbank; youth and education; arts and culture; and health.
Optimist Theatre and BMO Harris Bank to Present 2014 Free Shakespeare in the Park’s Production of “The Winter’s Tale”
MILWAUKEE, WIS. – With great confidence that southeastern Wisconsin will have put the harsh winter of 2013-2014 behind them sufficiently by June to appreciate William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” Optimist Theatre and BMO Harris Bank announce the dates of 2014’s Free Shakespeare in the Park. The romantic comedy will be performed across three weekends: June 13-15, June 19-22 and June 26-29. There will be a media preview on June 12. Shakespeare in the Park will return to COA Youth and Family Centers’ amphitheater in Alice Bertschy Kadish Park for a second year.
The expansion of the season from two weekends to three was made possible, in part, by the organization’s achievement of a $20,000 challenge grant from 2014’s Presenting Sponsor BMO Harris Bank. Though fundraising for the free performances continues, the sponsorship of BMO Harris enables planning for the extended fifth season to proceed.
In addition to announcing the season for Shakespeare in the Park, Optimist Theatre further revealed the casting of “The Winter’s Tale.” The production will be directed by M.L. Cogar, who has been both the Dramaturg and Assistant Director for all four of Shakespeare in the Park’s previous productions.
Cogar is particularly drawn to “The Winter’s Tale” as “a panoramic adventure-romance that showcases some of Shakespeare’s richest language. The story stretches between two fairy tale kingdoms, across the genres of tragedy and comedy…it offers us a jealous king, a wrongly accused queen, a brave princess, a comic shepherd, and a singing thief—in other words, plenty of room for our team of local artists to explore the parallel inventiveness of both performance and production.” The audience, she explains, should “expect clear language and storytelling, evocative movement and music, and technical artistry that celebrates imaginative theater traditions. And puppets.”
The cast for “The Winter’s Tale” includes:
Allie Babich as Perdita
David Bohn in the Ensemble
James Carrington as Dion / Ensemble
Liz Fraglia as Dorcas / Ensemble
David Franz in the Ensemble
Ron Scot Fry as Antigonus
Cassondra Gresl in the Ensemble
Ethan Hall as Florizel
Jeffrey James Ircink as the Shepherd
Ashley Jordan as Mamillius / Ensemble
Mary Kababik as Paulina
Megan Kaminsky as Mopsa / Ensemble
Patrick Lawlor* as Polixenes
Linda Loving in the Ensemble
Brian Miracle as the Clown
Beth Monhollen as Cleomenes
Emmit Morgan as Camilio
Beth Mulkerron* as Hermione / Autolycus
Tom Reed* as Leontes
Genessee Spridco as Emilia
Susan Scot Fry as the Bear
*Member of Actor’s Equity Association
The cast includes the return of several actors from prior seasons of Shakespeare in the Park, alongside a number of Optimist Theatre debuts. Tom Reed, Optimist Theatre Associate Artistic Director and Shakespeare in the Park Producer, as well as the production’s Leontes, is “pretty darned excited to collaborate with this cast and crew. Each of our productions arises from the chemistry of the people we pull together. This cast of local professionals is so multi-talented—we have singers, actors, dancers, musicians—I almost can’t wait for the audience to see the results. We’ll be using all those talents to the best of our Optimistic abilities!”
About “The Winter’s Tale”
Generally believed to have been written later in Shakespeare’s career (1610-1611), “The Winter’s Tale” is a romantic comedy of jealousy and suspected infidelity, revenge, and ultimately, of redemption and reunion. It contains one of the most famous stage directions in English literary history: “Exit, pursued by a bear.” Some speculate that, because the Elizabethan theaters were housed in the same sketchy entertainment district as the “bear baiting” pits, it is possible that one or more performances featured a live bear.
Of further interest to historians, the plot, in which a monarch falsely accuses his consort of adultery, appears to parallel the fall of Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife to King Henry VIII, and may have been an allusion to which the Bard’s audience would have been attuned.
About Optimist Theatre
Optimist Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit theatre company and an affiliate member of UPAF, the United Performing Arts Fund. Free Shakespeare in the Park is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board. In addition to Free Shakespeare in the Park, Optimist Theatre offers interactive educational outreach performances such as “To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now.” The organization’s goals include reaching artists and audiences across the economic, ethnic, and experiential landscape by creating art that is accessible to all people. They aspire to educate, entertain, and inspire through creative works of artistic integrity and, in doing so, to serve as a “gateway” theatre experience, bringing new audiences to the arts. To learn more, visit OptimistTheatre.org, or contact Managing Director Susan Scot Fry at SSFry@OptimistTheatre.org or 262/498-5777 or Artistic Director, Ron Scot Fry at RSFry@OptimistTheatre.org or 262/498-9788.
Shakespeare in the Park is also support in part by grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board, the Milwaukee Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, the United Arts Performing Fund, and the Milwaukee County Arts Fund (CAMPAC).
For those of you not able to be with us at our "UNSPHERE THE STARS" fundraiser on February 12th, you missed a sincerely magnificent time. From Patrick Lawlor's playful MC-ing to the Milwaukee Opera Theatre's selections from their current season to a cameo appearance by the Bard of Avon himself -- the evening was a barnburner!
Our headliner, Philip Earl Johnson, wowed the crowd and proved, once again, why he's been a favorite each year he's appeared at our winter shindig. We also could not have been happier to fill Turner Hall Ballroom with the smoky, swanky, sexy sounds of Ms. Anita Stemper.
Of course, without those who bought tickets and made donations and bid on auction items, all those terrific performers would -- well, still have been terrific. But we wouldn't, at the end of it, be announcing our fifth season of Shakespeare in the Park, NOW WITH 50% MORE TRAGEDY, COMEDY, JEALOUSY, FALSE ACCUSATIONS, BRAVERY, SONG, DANCE AND YES, PUPPETS!
In the course of thanking those of you who attended and donated and bid, we must extend special thanks to our friends at the AAUW -- American Association of University Women (Milwaukee). This terrific organization has been empowering women for more than 100 years. Their generous donation is one of those that allows us to present The Winter's Tale as our 2014 Shakespeare in the Park production.
Thanks to the fun-filled success of last year’s Sonnet Slam, we invite you to join us the evening of Monday, May 13, 2013 at Optimist Theatre’s …
“All the World’s a Stage Sonnet Slam”
All the world’s a stage,
and all the men and women, merely players-
they have their exits and their entrances,
and one man in his time plays many parts,
his acts being seven ages.
AS YOU LIKE IT Act 2 scene 7, 139-143
What’s a Sonnet Slam?
It’s a fun, optimistic party jam-packed with sonnets and laughter in a delicious setting. If you made it to last year’s hilarious evening, you already know how much fun it is!
Give it! There will be 3 sonnet sessions throughout the evening. Sonnets do not have to be memorized and they don’t have to be by Shakespeare.
When: Monday, May 13, 2013 – from 8:00pm to 11:00pm
Where: Transfer Pizzeria and Cafe
101 West Mitchell Street (in Bay View)
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Parking: Free parking along Mitchell Street
Cost: $35 per person. Space is limited, so don’t wait. 100% of your ticket purchase goes to support free Shakespeare in the Park and $20 per ticket is tax deductible. To purchase tickets, click this BUY NOW button.
For more information: Email Tom Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 414-524-9050.
*Fres Oquendo appears courtesy of:
Shakespeare in the Park is also brought to you in part by grants and donations from BMO Harris Bank, the American Association of University Women, and people like you. Thank you.