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Alliance Theatre (2014)

Alliance Theatre (2014)

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Yale School of Drama
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Spring 2014, Susan V. Booth, the Jennings Hertz Artistic Director of the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, was in the midst of planning for the theater’s first capital campaign in its 45-year history. Gaining momentum for the campaign, which would fund a floor-to-ceiling renovation of the theater and increase the Alliance’s endowment, was a long and difficult process. Consultants had conducted multiple feasibility studies since 2007, all of which produced discouraging recommendations. By the 2013-’14 season, however, Booth had garnered enough support from her board, her staff, and the leadership at the Alliance’s parent organization, the Woodruff Arts Center, to move forward with a campaign to renovate its facilities and re-open as a new state-of-the-art performance space in Fall 2018, the beginning of the theater’s 50th Anniversary season.

As a leader with a reputation for tireless innovation, Booth saw the Alliance’s 49th season, during which the company would be displaced for construction, as a tremendous opportunity to conduct an unprecedented theatrical experiment – one that would inevitably come with complicated challenges for her staff, board, and longtime subscriber base. Her idea was to program each of the season’s 12 shows in a distinct, site-specific venue far from the theater’s Midtown location, rather than to follow the conventional practice of other regional theaters and rent a single nearby theater during the construction period. While Booth was convinced that her new model – with its great potential for community outreach and audience development – was the best option for the offsite year, she feared the idea would be met with resistance from her staff, even though she had spent 13 years cultivating a company culture of shared ownership, consensus, and transparency. Beyond that, she knew that the governing boards she reported to would have reservations about the impact such a season could have on the theater’s finances. Taking into account the risks, additional staff workload, and serious inconveniences that all the Alliance’s stakeholders would face in pursuit of such an ambitious plan, how could Booth persuade her staff and boards to support her vision for a revolutionary off-campus season?

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Publication Date: 2016-05-05

Suggested Citation: Trent Anderson, "Alliance Theatre (2014)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #14-73, May 15, 2016

Keywords: Atlanta, Community, Facilities, Leadership

Teaching Notes: Yes (contact yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu

About the Theater Management Knowledge Base

This case is from the Theater Management Knowledge Base, a body of arts management material created by Yale School of Drama Theater Management students and faculty, overseen by an editorial board of leading practitioners. For more information or for help in selecting cases suitable for your educational or organizational purposes, please email yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu.