SHINSAI in the Making

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by Katherine Charleton

I graduated from Emerson last May with a degree in Arts Management, and moved to New York for a temporary gig as Press Coordinator at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. It was during my senior year at Emerson that I realized that I wanted to work in marketing, specifically audience development. Other than the behind the scenes tour of NewFest 2011: Chops I put together for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members my last semester, I didn’t have any marketing experience whatsoever.

When the Lincoln Center Festival ended, I found myself with a lot (A LOT) of time on my hands, so in addition to searching for real jobs, I started looking for marketing internships. In December, I was very lucky to be welcomed by The Play Company as their marketing intern. I assisted with marketing on two of their productions: Working on a Special Day and The Ugly One (stage managed by fellow Emerson alum Davin De Santis).

The Play Company was one of the organizations that were part of the steering committee for the SHINSAI: Theaters for Japan event, and one of the participants involved with the “big New York event” at Cooper Union. (There were actually 5 other SHINSAI events going on in New York City.) The steering committee was comprised of several off-Broadway companies, TCG, the Japan Society, the Dramatists Guild, and Gorgeous Entertainment. I had actually worked with Gorgeous Entertainment on two other occasions, during Lincoln Center Festival 2010 and 2011. These organizations had been gearing up for the New York event for half a year and they decided to make this benefit a theater community wide effort, inviting many organizations from around the country to join in.

One sunny January afternoon, Kate Loewald and Lauren Rayner, PlayCo’s Executive Director and Marketing Associate respectively, were on a conference call with the steering committee discussing marketing for the event and volunteered my assistance for the effort. Actually, they asked me first, but how could I say no? This was an incredible opportunity, both for networking and to learn marketing, as I was charged with creating e-blast materials for the big New York event and for nationwide participants.

I created an e-blast schedule comprised of three e-blasts, and two different templates for each blast. The goal was to be of assistance to all organizations, especially to those who may have already been inundated by their seasons. As national participating organizations signed onto the cause I sent the appropriate materials and an e-mail explaining all things SHINSAI marketing. I occasionally checked in to see how things were going if they were not contacting me on their own, and I was able to send them materials as needed and answer questions. Over 60 organizations participated worldwide, representing the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Japan.

There were challenges, which included communicating completely through e-mail with the steering committee; I actually didn’t meet anyone in person until the SHINSAI event because two weeks into my involvement I was hired on a full time basis by a company not involved with the events. Overall, this was such an incredibly enriching experience for me, and I am very thankful for the opportunity.

*****

Katherine Charleton is a graduate of the BA Theatre Studies program in the Performing Arts Department at Emerson College, which participated in the SHINSAI events on March 11. The Emerson event raised over $300 for the Japanese theater community affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami of one year ago.

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