AMS continues its research and project support for Theatre Communications Group’s Audience (R)Evolution initiative, exploring trends and best practices in audience engagement. TCG recently posted a wrap-up report on the February convening for the project, including details on AMS’ presentation. Says the article:
A trio of presenters from AMS Planning and Research–Lynette Turner, Steven A. Wolff and Andrew Taylor–shared information based on in-depth surveys of the field commissioned by TCG, and spiced their calculations with an instant survey of the room: Who cares most about audience engagement, versus artistic quality, versus marketing success? If your theatre went away, would anybody care? One crucial poll showed that “a more fulfilling experience” at the theatre was far more important to conference-goers than becoming a community resource or attracting a new demographic.
Audience (R)Evolution is a multi-year program designed by TCG and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to study, promote and support successful audience engagement and community development models across the country. This new initiative encompasses four phases unfolding over three years: research and assessment; a convening; grant-making; and widespread dissemination of audience engagement models that work.
AMS Planning & Research is a consulting partner on the project.
Steven A. Wolff, CMC is the founding Principal of AMS Planning & Research Corp. and AMS Analytics LLC. He works from the firm’s Connecticut headquarters. For nearly 30 years, Steven has provided counsel to arts, culture and entertainment enterprises on strategic initiatives, the planning and development of capital facilities, and arts industry research. In addition to work with AMS clients, Steven is a leading industry thinker and speaker exploring topics from the role of ‘anchor cultural institutions’ to ‘re-thinking success’ for 21st century arts and cultural enterprises. In 2017, he was awarded the ACQ5 Global Award as US Gamechanger of the Year. The firm was also recognized as US Niche Planning Consultancy of the the Year.
Steven has helped to guide more than $8 billion of new and renovated capital facilities for the arts working with notable architects and theater designers. Among the most recent, the Eccles Theater (Salt Lake City), the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts expansion in Washington, DC, and planning for Granville Island’s 2040 Master Plan. He has guided projects from needs assessment through project definition to site selection, financing and project implementation, operation, and re-imagination.
Steven provides research and management counsel to drive innovative new business models, including change initiatives, governance and management evolution, strategic planning and program evaluation. Current assignments include renowned theater companies, (The Guthrie, Arena Stage, and The Old Globe), to major performing arts centers (Columbus Association for Performing Arts, The Kentucky Center for the Arts and Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall) to major foundations (The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation).
Steven is on the faculty at the Yale School of Drama, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater administration and teaches Decision Support. He is a member of the Institute of Management Consultants and holds the designation Certified Management Consultant (CMC). He serves on the Board of several arts and educational not-for-profit organizations.
With more than 20 years of practical experience in the non-profit performing arts arena, Michele has a thorough understanding of the operating issues and opportunities facing many of our performing arts organizations.
At AMS, Michele specializes in partnering with clients to guide their organizations through institutional development, as well as implementation of new arts facilities. Most recently, her work in St. Tammany Parish, LA supported the Parish government with a process to define a Cultural Arts District and Performing Arts Center. She led Auburn University through testing and development of a performing arts center concept, assisted in the architect selection process, supported the University in its Executive Director search process, and partnered with the design and construction team in a decision support role. Michele has also partnered with New Spire Arts, in Frederick, MD, to provide a comprehensive planning approach to assist with organizational development and strategy for a new performing arts and education facility in two newly acquired buildings.
Recent planning and strategy work includes partnership with GableStage to implement a long-range plan to relocate into a new, expanded theatre at the site of the former Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami. In her work with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts she guided the management team through a methodology to evaluate program options for its new expansion through a definition of success and desired artist, patron and institutional outcomes. Strategic planning counsel for New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) included multiple scenarios in order to be nimble in an environment of unsettled public funding outcomes. Her process guides organizations to define a shared vision for success, analyzes and assesses lines of business, and creates detailed plans with recommendations for implementation. Michele’s passion is to enable organizations to adapt within an evolving environment while maximizing value to their stakeholders and community.
Prior to joining AMS Planning & Research in 2006, Michele served as Chief Operating Officer of the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation in Richmond, Virginia, where she oversaw design and financial planning for a proposed multi-theatre arts complex. Key responsibilities for that organization included planning for all operational aspects of the venues, engagement of the arts and cultural community, financial management and planning, and coordination of the development team.
Within her 15 years of orchestra management, she served as Executive Director of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 2002. During that time, she oversaw organizational growth of 30% (including a successful capital campaign for endowment) and was instrumental in developing several creative outreach and education programs.
A native of New Jersey, Michele earned her B.A. degree at the University of Michigan. She resides in Richmond, Virginia.
Bill Blake is AMS’s West Coast Director. He has returned to AMS after having been with the firm previously as a Project Manager from 2000-2005. Prior to rejoining AMS, Bill was the Managing Director of the B Street Theatre in Sacramento. The B Street Theatre produces over 450 performances a year with an emphasis on new plays, provides educational programs reaching dozens of schools and school districts, and offers theatre arts classes in the community. In addition to managing these diverse activities of the company, Bill led B Street in the planning, fundraising, design and development of its new $25 million mixed-use performing arts complex that opened in February 2018.
Bill has been involved in over 60 consulting and planning projects with clients ranging from federal agencies and municipal governments, to small and large not-for-profit organizations; he has developed strategic plans, business plans and feasibility studies for cultural facilities and organizations, including performing arts centers, theaters, museums and interpretive centers, as well as historic theaters.
Prior to joining AMS in 2000, Bill was the General Manager of the Everett Performing Arts Center and served as an administrator at the Village Theatre, both located in Washington State. Bill also worked as an arts educator at the Seattle Children’s Theatre and the Idyllwild Arts Academy in Southern California.
Lynette Turner joined AMS in 1998 and has over 30 years of experience in the arts. She frequently calls on her past skills as Producing Director, performer, director and facilitator to understand the varied perspectives and points of view our clients and project participants represent.
At AMS, Lynette assists clients in the construction of strategic and business plans as they maneuver their organizations through the complexities of the 21st century. She is currently engaged with The Maryland State Arts Council on the creation of a new strategic plan, and also recently assisted Boston’s New England Foundation for the Arts, and is working with Florida’s GableStage on institutional planning as they prepare to transition to a permanent home.
Lynette is particularly committed to incorporating diverse voices and perspectives as an integral part of AMS’s study process. For six seasons, she managed the evaluation of the DanceMotion USA(sm) program for the Department of State, and Brooklyn Academy of Music. The program facilitated international cultural exchange while showcasing the best in contemporary American dance abroad. Lynette has provided guidance to the Santa Clara Pueblo Tribe, in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico analyzing their market and determining the feasibility of implementing a cultural arts museum. She has also been engaged in the work of The Yakama Nation, in Yakama, Washington, as they considered the vision and implications of re-imagining new spaces and renovating their existing Cultural Heritage Center. Her work with these important Nations helps to enable the preservation of indigenous North American culture. She is currently working with the Pittsburgh Theological Society on a venue feasibility study to determine how to maximize the organization’s service to their community.
Keeping in mind the important role of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in an organization’s culture, she is committed to bringing these issues to the forefront with engaged conversation and guidance that may lead to decision making in this important area.
Lynette has also assisted clients, such as the Village of Saranac Lake, in important planning work to augment cultural vitality. She assisted Brown University of Providence, RI in a performing arts assessment and visioning study to strengthen and enhance opportunities for curricular, co-curricular and public programs, and she assisted Theatre Communications Group in a research project that focused on new audience engagement for the 21st century American theatre for the organization’s Audience (R)Evolution initiative.
Lynette is well-known for her facilitation of workshops and residencies focusing on African culture. She holds a BFA in Theatre from the University of Utah. A recipient of the Governor’s Award for Arts Advocacy in Alaska, she has been recognized by Theatre Communications Group, Alaska State Council on the Arts, and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. Lynette is also a Positivoligist™ and author of The 10 Be’s of Positivity, 10 Steps to A More Positive Way of Living, as well as an ordained interfaith-interspiritual minister.
Amy F. Ben-Kiki, Project Manager based in Los Angeles, has been part of the AMS family for over a decade. With 20+ years of experience in the arts and cultural sector, she is particularly focused on the role of arts in developing individuals and communities.
Amy has assisted over 40 organizations nationwide through a multitude of planning and evaluative initiatives. Amy’s keen understanding of the care and risk required to successfully develop and operate facilities has driven her work with key stakeholders in the planning and creation of new arts centers including: The Stages at Northstar, Lake Tahoe, CA; the Perelman Center for the Performing Arts at the World Trade Center, New York, NY; and the Sarasota Performing Arts Center, Sarasota, FL. She recently explored the feasibility of a new Arts Education Centre on behalf of the ArtsBridge Foundation in Atlanta, GA and the potential for facility expansion for TheaterWorks in Hartford, CT.
Amy’s commitment to advancing the sector and challenging its boundaries is evident in her strategic planning work with museums, cultural centers and higher education institutions, and in her management of several large-scale assessment projects, including an Environmental Scan for Americans for the Arts, which served as a basis for their strategic planning efforts, and an evaluation of the U.S. Department of State’s Jazz Ambassador’s Program. More recently, she worked with Hillsborough County, FL to inventory and articulate the value of its cultural assets and recommend ways to stimulate economic development success.
Amy recently served as Board President for The Little Theatre of Manchester, in Manchester, CT and served in an advisory capacity during the development and early implementation of Hartford Performs, an arts education collaborative serving the Hartford Public Schools system.
Melora Cybul is a senior consultant with AMS Planning & Research.
Since joining the AMS team in 2015, she has worked on over 30 projects in facilities and business planning, operations assessment, program design, and industry research.
Melora has worked with organizations across the country to explore the feasibility, form, and function of new, renovated or expanded cultural facilities, including Auburn and Fresno State Universities, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, and City of Elk Grove, California. She enables clients to define or re-think success for their communities by synthesizing stakeholder input, mapping cultural assets, analyzing historical trends, and modeling scenarios given programmatic aspirations or potential capital investment.
In addition to facility planning, market and best practices research, Melora co-authored a white paper on a decade of performing arts center developments, conducted research on the role of anchor arts institutions in their communities, and supported two national executive searches. Melora also coordinated teams from the Dr. Phillips Center and Florida Hospital (now Advent Health) in the development of a clinical study on whether performing arts can help those with memory loss and their caregivers. Melora is also currently supporting the Maryland State Arts Council in the agency’s strategic planning process. She explores how organizations operate and provides insights that enable our clients to maximize organizational value within their communities.
Before joining AMS, Melora worked with organizations including the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Springer Opera House, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, and Georgia Thespians. She has presented research at Theatre Symposium and is an active member of IAVM, through which she presented at the Performing Arts Managers Conference, interned with the Venue Management School, and currently serves on the Performing Arts Committee. Melora holds an MBA and MFA in Theatre Management from the University of Alabama and a BS in Theatre Education from Columbus State University.
Meg Friedman is a Consultant with AMS Planning & Research, based in the Southport, Connecticut office. She gathers and synthesizes data for strategic planning projects, feasibility studies, and to support a range of organizational decisions by AMS’s clients and partners.
Meg interviews industry leaders, researches industry trends ranging from consumer preferences to cutting-edge venue design and the arts workforce, and produces dynamic financial and evaluation models to support a wide range of projects.
Past projects include the inaugural strategic plan for Assets for Artists, a program of MASS MoCA, and a robust strategic plan for the New England Foundation for the Arts. Meg has researched trends and best practices in performing arts center design and operations for the City of Boise, Idaho and the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and provided supporting research for a chapter in Routledge’s Performing Arts Center Management. She conducted research into best practices of global cultural districts for Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia and assisted in a cultural asset mapping process for Hillsborough County, Florida. Current projects include a significant new performing arts center in Sarasota, Florida, and research to support an arts sector investment strategy for The McConnell Foundation in Redding, California.
Meg holds a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Goucher College and a BA in Theater Design and Production from UCLA. Prior to joining AMS, Meg was a freelance Equity stage manager and worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as at leading regional theaters.
In addition to research and planning, Meg tweets from @AMSarts, along with several other AMS team members. In her spare time, Meg can be found scrolling through BoardSource, Nonprofit Quarterly and American Theatre articles. Meg is a California native and resides in New Haven.
Beth Rubin has over 25 years of experience as a researcher, curator, and consultant in museums and cultural institutions. In addition to her work for AMS, she has served as a curator at the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, MO; exhibition coordinator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC; exhibition content developer at PGAV Destinations, St. Louis, MO; and researcher at the St. Louis Art Museum.
Beth has been contributing her research expertise to a variety of AMS planning projects, including cultural plans, feasibility studies, and strategic and business plans for over 15 years. Heritage sites and historical cultural projects are a particular area of interest for Beth, given her background as a museum professional.
Past AMS projects in which she has participated have included: Minnesota Historical Society North West Company Fur Post Historic Site – audience research and market analysis; African American Museum of Delaware Foundation – feasibility study for new museum; Scottsdale Museum of the West – feasibility study; Speed Art Museum – strategic review, assessment and staffing plan for museum expansion; Louis L’Amour Interpretive Center – feasibility study for new museum; Asia Society, Texas –feasibility study and business plan.
She holds undergraduate degrees in Marketing and History from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in American Studies, with a Certificate in Museum Practice, from the University of Michigan.
Liz joined AMS in 2014. She facilitates marketing and business development, manages office and executive functions, and provides project support. She assisted in the market analysis component for The Kentucky Center, and conducted the 2017 patron file analysis for New York Botanical Garden’s Adult Education Department.
In addition to her work with AMS, she served for two years as Executive Assistant at the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. She participated in development efforts, leading the coordination of their annual gala auction, and conceived and implemented an “Architectural Sights & Sounds” initiative, as named by their Executive Director, which reconnected the organization to local architects and augmented giving for the 2015-16 season.
Liz independently developed a national database of performance and event venues, this work includes the visualization of arts and events venues across the US, explores the relationship between types and capacity of venues and population, and cites industry trends. This collated data provides her with an understanding of arts and events environments across the country.
Liz holds a BFA in Theatrical Design and Technical Direction from the University of North Carolina. She began her career as a theatrical contractor and manufacturers’ rep. She moved to Connecticut for Theatre Projects Consultants and assisted their design and project management teams on projects including Kodak Theatre (now The Dolby Theatre), Los Angeles, CA, RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, Columbus, Georgia, and Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, Wisconsin.