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Tending Our Performing Arts Gardens: Mankato, MN

January 4 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Tending Our Performing Arts Gardens

One-day, capacity-building workshops and conversations for organizations and individuals in Minnesota’s performing arts community.


Performing arts organizations — including the artists, administrators, board members, and volunteers — must be tended in order to thrive, build capacity, and take care of the holistic well-being of the people involved. Please join the Minnesota Theater Alliance and a dynamic group of presenters for useful workshops and conversations around the themes of establishing strong roots for capacity building and positive community impact. (Hence the catchy garden metaphor…!) 

We’ll dig into some of the essential elements that help our organizations, people, and community flourish. Each workshop will have a unique group of presenters, and will include a wide range of topics, such as marketing, fundraising, audience services, stage management, human resources, health, safety, wellness, and equity. Time will be available for conversations about topics you bring forward, or to connect with others in your areas of interest. Lunch is included.

These workshops will take place in five locations across Minnesota. Because the content will vary slightly in each location, you are welcome to attend as many as you would like. Consider exploring some new parts of Minnesota, and meeting the local performing arts movers and shakers in those areas!


Click here to register!


(You, probably!) Anyone who is involved with the creation or administration of the performing arts — including theater, dance, opera, improv, and music. These workshops will be applicable to individual contributors and those who represent organizations/companies.


SCHEDULE (Mankato, MN)

9:00am – 9:45am

  • Opening words: A Statewide View of our Performing Arts

9:45am – 11:00am (Choose 1)

  • Stage and Production Management with Megan West
  • Performing Arts Administration: Telling Your Financial Story with Dawn Bentley

11:15am – 12:30pm (Choose 1)

  • Program Evaluation 101: Crafting a Plan to Get Data You Can Actually Use with Rachel Brown
  • Building Character Through Physical Approaches with Darcey Engen

12:30pm – 1:30pm | Lunch provided

1:30pm – 2:45pm (Choose 1)

  • Building Ensemble and Individual Agency with Hannah K. Holman
  • The Artist/Administrator Model of Running a Theater with Hal Cropp

3:00pm – 4:15pm (You bring the topics!)

  • Open Space Conversations: What does your community need to discuss right now?

4:15pm – 4:30pm

  • Reflection & Next Steps



(Click here for presenter bios.)


♦  Stage and Production Management with Megan West

Learn the basics of stage and production management along with developing a healthy and efficient template to collaborate. Take away some tricks and tips to running a smooth rehearsal, leading an efficient technical rehearsal and calling a smooth show. Learn strategies for managing conflict and leading a team. Great for beginners and early professional stage managers and production managers.


♦  Performing Arts Administration: Telling Your Financial Story with Dawn Bentley

We all know the importance of storytelling in the performing arts. However, there is one narrative arts administrators often neglect to hone which can lead funders, donors, and audiences to interpret their own tragedy, drama, or farce: The Financial Story. Financial storytelling is the expression of how your organization navigates mission, activates vision, and expresses values. We’ll review the basic financial reporting documents of Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow to understand the messages we’re sending to constituents and talk about how to direct the story we want to be told.


♦  Program Evaluation 101: Crafting a Plan to Get Data You Can Actually Use with Rachel Brown

When you get to the Evaluation section of a grant proposal, do you groan a bit or maybe even panic? Do you ever feel like program evaluation is just a reporting hoop to jump through? When writing an evaluation plan do you ever feel like you are making stuff up or just putting in what you think the funders want to hear? If you answered yes to any (or all!) of these questions, come for a fresh look at the power of program evaluation to get you information that you can use to reflect on your art, connect with your communities, and help explain your work to funders. 

We’ll cover topics such as how to build an evaluation team, collect and use data, write reports, and more. This session includes handouts designed to have participants become more confident and effective program evaluators for their art and/or arts organization.


♦  Building Character Through Physical Approaches with Darcey Engen

In this session, participants will learn how to build a character using physical approaches and techniques based in Commedia Dell’arte, Wesley Balk and Jacques Lecoq. Through improvisation and movement exercises, we will help you develop the actor’s imagination, spontaneity, timing, expansive energy, and authentic actions. By putting the work in our body, you’ll learn tools that can be used again in rehearsals and in workshop settings.


  Building Ensemble and Individual Agency with Hannah K. Holman

In order to do our best work, we need to show up and be our best with each other. Join us for an exploration of practical tools and resources for building ensemble, communicating about respect and consent in the artistic process, and advocating for a safe and healthy rehearsal room for all. This session will be useful for individual artists, as well as folks who often direct or facilitate.


♦  The Artist/Administrator Model of Running a Theater with Hal Cropp

This workshop will look at the structure and feasibility of creating a business model which places rewarding artists as a premium while maintaining the likelihood of sustainability. Using the Commonweal Theatre Company as an exemplar, issues of decision making, evaluation, and planning will be explored.



  • November 2, 2019 — 9:00am – 5:00pm
    Castle Community
    121 N Broadway Ave, Rochester, MN 55906
  • January 4, 2020 — 9:00am – 5:00pm
    Mankato State University
    320 Maywood Ave, Mankato, MN 56001
  • February 1, 2020 — 9:00am – 5:00pm
    Zeitgeist Arts
    222 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802
  • February 29, 2020 — 9:00am – 5:00pm
    Walker Bay Theater
    609 Minnesota Ave, Walker, Minnesota 56484
  • March 14, 2020 — 9:00am – 5:00pm
    GREAT Theater
    710 Sundial Dr, Waite Park, MN 56387



  • Members: $40 per session
  • Non-Members: $60 per session 

Click here to register!



The Minnesota Theater Alliance connects, supports, and advocates for the statewide performing arts community. We envision a vibrant and complex Minnesota performing arts ecosystem in which practitioners’ flourish in companies that are stable, accessible, safe, and healthy; achieving their missions through enthusiastic engagement with their communities and audiences.


January 4
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Minnesota Theater Alliance


Mankato State University
320 Maywood Ave
Mankato, MN 56001 United States
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