In 2007, a volunteer group of non-profit theater artistic directors came together to explore how a formal theater alliance might bring the theater community together to advance their shared interests. Working with funding support from the McKnight Foundation, and feasibility planning consultation from Cincinnatus, they eventually formed a partnership with Springboard for the Arts to be an incubator for this community-driven initiative.
The Minnesota Theater Alliance officially started as a program of Springboard for the Arts in August 2009, and with startup funding from McKnight Foundation and the Travelers Foundation, hired Leah Cooper in March 2010 to work with its founding steering committee to research and respond to membership needs with initial programs, formalize the organization’s startup infrastructure, and secure funding support for long term services. The Alliance was incorporated in December 2010 with its founding committee serving as its board of directors.
During the summer of 2010, the Alliance presented 35 informational meetings, hosted in communities scattered across the state, and attended by over 200 theater representatives. At each meeting, ideas for programs and services, governance structure, and membership dues were discussed to ensure that the future of the Alliance was driven by the common needs and perspectives of our entire community.
With an initial outline of programs in place, the Alliance launched its first formal membership campaign in January 2011. Over the years, membership grew to include theaters of all types, sizes and geographic locations. In addition, Affiliated Business and Individual memberships were created to expand the participation from within our community.
In 2016, the Alliance experienced an executive transition, with Joanna Schnedler taking the position as Leah Cooper departed the organization. In 2016, the first ever Minnesota Theater Alliance Statewide Theater Conference (MTASTC) took place at St. John’s University in Collegeville. A second conference followed at Hamline University in 2017, establishing this as an annual program tradition.
In 2018, the Theater Alliance completed a new strategic plan, along with a new mission, vision and values statement to set its course for the next 3-5 years.