The Next Decade

by FTC Board Chair Steve Suleski

Wow! It’s 2020 already. A new decade. Forward Theater’s second full decade. Ten years ago, in January 2010, Forward was little more than an idea and some early experiments. Our inaugural 2009-2010 season featured All About Eve, Kiritsis, and Why Torture Is Wrong and the People That Love Them. The company barely had a staff or any money in the bank. Performing at Overture was a hope and a dream. The country and arts organizations were still painfully climbing out of the Great Recession.

What a difference ten years makes. Unlike a day or a week or a month, or even a year, a decade is long enough to show with great clarity the changes that have been happening all along. Forward is now a well-established resident company at Overture. We produce four full-blown, high-quality, contemporary plays each and every season. We pay our actors and other theater professionals at the top of the pay scale for theater companies our size. We connect the themes of each of our plays to relevant issues in our community and partner with other community organizations to leverage the impact of our artistic works. Our annual budget has grown to $1.2 million and we have substantial reserves in the bank. And we have created a family — close-knit, rambunctious, respectful and loving — that includes our audience, our financial supporters and volunteers, our artists and advisory company, our board of directors and staff.

And now we look Forward to a new decade, the 2020s. What will we be able to say about Forward Theater in January of 2030, when this new decade has run its course? What new art will we have brought to the stage? What new and existing talent will we have supported at a level that will have enabled them to make a life in Wisconsin as a full-time theater professional? What community outreach programs and initiatives will we have undertaken with our community partners to enhance the quality of life in this place we all love so much? What economic impact will we have made in Dane County by being a successful arts organization that draws thousands of people to our productions and events? What new efforts will we make that we are not even contemplating today and what will they accomplish? And, finally, how will we have grown our Forward family, how many more audience members will we have brought into our fold, and how will we have nurtured our unique culture of challenging thought, mutual respect and artistic excellence?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to find out.