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!


(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.



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





Dawn Bentley is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Fringe and Adjunct Faculty member of the University of Minnesota Arts & Culture Leadership Master’s program. Dawn’s leadership expertise and experience focuses on navigating strategic vision to help organizations streamline infrastructure and manage effective change. Dawn holds a dual degree Masters in Nonprofit Management and Business Administration from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Her undergraduate degree in Microbiology from Hamline was applied to a previous career of scientific research for the US Food & Drug Administration and at the University of Minnesota where her work was published. For 30 years, Dawn has played violin in various ensembles from rock bands to professional orchestras with nearly a dozen assorted recordings in her repertoire.


Ernest Briggs is a proud professional actor from the Twin Cities who has worked in Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles and Florida (Film, T.V., Stage, & commercial) for over 10 years. Ernest received his Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Florida and attended the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. Ernest has been seen on stage at the Guthrie Theater, Park Square Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Teatro Del Pueblo, Nimbus Theatre, Turtle Theater collective, Artistry Theatre, SideKick Theater, Minnesota History Theatre to name a few. In addition, Ernest has had supporting roles in such independent feature films as Atarax, A Method, Area of Conflict, To Say Goodbye, Sold Out and Nina of the Woods to name a few. Some career highlights include being nominated for a best ensemble and web series (Drama) awards from the HollyWeb Awards for Atarax, embodying the role of Ernie Mac and Others for the Pre-Off Broadway sold out production of PUFFS, receiving a teaching award from the University of Florida and becoming a Park Square Theatre Directing Fellow (2019). Whenever not performing he can be found spending time with his family.


Dr. Rachel A. Brown is a program evaluation consultant, facilitator, educator, and strategic planner who facilitates learning, change, and growth in mission-driven organizations. To make learning with data useful, impactful, and fun, she melds expertise developed as a social science researcher, English teacher, camp director, curriculum writer, assessment editor, staff development specialist, and theater arts enthusiast. Since pivoting from K-12 education into the arts, she has worked with a variety of Minnesota arts organizations, including Stages Theatre Company, Theater Mu, The Grand Marais Playhouse, The Minnesota Theater Alliance, The Page Theatre in Winona, MRAC, and Nautilus Music-Theater. For more information, please see http://rachelbrownconsulting.com


Hal Cropp has been Executive Director of the Commonweal for the past twenty-five years. He has been a guest lecturer at Luther College, Viterbo University, and the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, CA. He holds a B.A. from Brown, an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University, and an M.F.A in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory. He has also served on southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, Santa Clara County (CA) Arts Commission, and Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce. He was awarded the 2006 Sally Ordway Irvine award for Initiative. He has been an active member of the Lanesboro Community, serving on the Lanesboro City Council and chairing the Lanesboro Economic Development Authority for six years. In his many roles at Commonweal, he is actor, director, playwright, and teacher, in addition to his administrative responsibilities.


Jeff Danovsky is a Senior Insurance Advisor at Kaplan Insurance Agency, specializing in theater and performing arts organizations. He provides effective insurance strategies for many arts organizations throughout the Midwest. Jeff’s in-depth understanding of the industry as well as his close relationships with the arts community make him a trusted advisor. In addition, Jeff’s wife and children are enthusiastic theater supporters, as attenders, board members and aspiring performers. He is a proud member of Minnesota Theater Alliance, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and Springboard for the Arts. Jeff is also an avid ultra-trail runner and board member for his faith community.


Alison Feigh, MS, is the Director of Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, a program of Zero Abuse Project. In her role as a subject matter expert on child and teen safety, she works with students, parents, youth workers, faith leaders, law enforcement and the media to help prevent childhood abuse and abductions. Alison’s work also includes writing curriculum for youth-serving organizations, training professionals about online challenges kids face and advocating for families of the missing. Alison has been working in the abuse prevention field for more than 18 years. As a classmate of Jacob Wetterling, she learned early on how important it is to protect children and youth from exploitation. She is especially drawn to prevention in faith-based communities and youth-serving organizations, collaborating with teens regarding technology and helping empower parents to talk with their kids about personal and online safety. She firmly believes that personal and online safety messages can be positive, empowering and accessible. Her safety messages are highlighted in her children’s books, “On Those Runaway Days” and “I Can Play It Safe.” Both titles were released nationally in 2008 by Free Spirit Publishing and have recently been translated into Chinese.


Hannah K. Holman interdisciplinary maker, social practice artist, theater collaborator, and creative consultant working in rural, remote, urban, and suburban communities. She is deeply invested in arts-inspired conversation, community, and connection. In addition to the Minnesota Theater Alliance, Hannah is the Producing Artistic Director of Umbrella Collective, Project Manager for the 2019 Rural Arts & Culture Summit with Springboard for the Arts, and a Board Member and collaborator with the Department of Public Transformation. Previously, Hannah was the Associate Managing Director for The Loft Literary Center. She holds a BA in theater and music from Concordia College—Moorhead, MN. Having called Minnesota home all her life, Hannah loves working to strengthen connections, resources, and opportunities for learning in this inspiring statewide performing arts community.


Heather Meyer is an improviser and playwright in Minneapolis. She performs improv regularly with The Brave New Workshop, Huge Improv Theater, ComedySportz and The Theatre of Public Policy. She teaches improv for non-improvisors, corporate clients and individuals aged 55+. Her scripts have been performed in over 25 states and she is a staff writer for an international animated children’s series debuting in 2022. She is an alum of the Second City Satire Writing program. She has an MFA in Playwriting from Spalding University and an MA in Sustainable Design from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her work in this program focused on how to use improv to create job satisfaction for employees in non-managerial positions.


Joanna Schnedler has been active in the Minnesota theater community for over 18 years, with experience ranging from small start-ups to major performance venues. Initially a Stage Manager, Joanna worked for a variety of Minnesota theaters and opera companies, and was a member of Actors Equity Association. Joanna has been involved with Minnesota theaters as a board member, business manager, director, technician, costumer designer, properties designer, and in box office/front of house roles, including eight years with Theatre de la Jeune Lune as Performance Manager. When not working in theater, Joanna’s focus has been in fund development for nonprofit social service and social enterprise organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Theater Arts from Simpson College, a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management and a Master of Business Administration from Hamline University. In recent years, Joanna held the position of General Manager for the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul, managing the business operations for this major performing arts and public radio venue, and most recently worked in a consulting role at the Fitzgerald, with finance/budgeting, fundraising and historic preservation projects.


Jon Skaalen spent the last 20 years as access & grants coordinator for VSA Minnesota, the state organization on arts and disability. He’s served on boards for MACT, AACT, Interact Center, Bridge Theatre (Stillwater), Village Players (Montevideo) and produced several original plays at MACT and Fringe Festivals that include performers with disabilities.



Harry Waters, Jr. created the role of Belize in the first production of Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes in 1991. He is most famous for his portrayal of Marvin Berry in Back to the Future (1985) which earned him a Gold record for his rendition of “Earth Angel.” Born in Tulsa, and raised in Denver, Colorado, he attended Princeton University and received his MFA in Directing from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He worked as an actor in New York City on and off Broadway for many years. Currently in the Twin Cities, he has appeared on stages as diverse as The Guthrie, Penumbra Theater Company, Mixed Blood, Ten Thousand Things Theater, Pangea World Theatre, and Park Square. Mr. Waters has directed numerous productions around the Twin Cities. He has worked as a Facilitator for the Many Voices Roundtable at The Playwrights’ Center where he has inspired the careers of numerous emerging writers of color. He also worked with his son Jordon Waters, and gay rapper Kevin “Kaoz” Moore on AKA FATHERS/SONS sharing performative conversations about sexuality and sexual identity. The presentation moved throughout the Twin Cities, at various sites where fathers and sons participated in story circles. In 2013, Waters created the role of Fat Rev in the regional production of THE ROAD WEEPS, THE WELL RUNS DRY by Marcus Gardley at Pillsbury House Theatre, directed by Marion McClinton. He is a Professor in the Theatre and Dance Department at Macalester College.

Megan West is the Executive Producer for The Chameleon Theatre Circle. She has been in art administration for the last decade, an AEA Stage Manager, a tour manager for Open Eye and In the Heart of the Beast, as well as production and company manager for Park Square Theatre. Megan has served as the Board Chair of the Minnesota Theatre Alliance and on the board for Walking Shadow Theatre Company. She is a freelance Director who has directed recently at Lakeshore Players Theatre and Rochester Civic Theatre.




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.