Highlights from CSTC Annual Meeting

Clear Space Theatre Company’s patrons, board, and Producer’s Circle met on Tuesday May 14 for the company’s annual meeting. News from the most recent season was shared, as well as updates on future plans and programs.

After a musical performance from Autumn Schneider, board chair Megan Nehrbas opened the gathering by welcoming the many new faces joining Clear Space for an annual meeting for the first time, recognizing that this was our largest attended annual meeting ever. She thanked everyone for their support and service.

After celebrating the artistic successes of the 2023 season (including sold out runs for Young Frankenstein and Kinky Boots), Artistic Director David Button shared plans for this year’s exciting summer season – including not only three blockbuster mainstage productions of Jersey Boys, Rock of Ages, and The Prom, but also our annual Saturday morning series for young audiences and a two new series. The Signature Cabaret Series will give members of the season ensemble the opportunity to shine in exciting new ways. The Presenting Series will help Clear Space welcome artists of great caliber to our stage for special one night or one weekend engagements – including such artists as Tony Award winner Len Cariou, Tony nominees Sarah Stiles and Liz Larsen, and comedienne Fay Jacobs. In addition, David Button announced the breaking news that CSTC has secured the rights to Hairspray for our 2025 summer season. (The rest of the 2025 season will be announced later this year.)

Managing Director Joe Gfaller highlighted recent organizational accomplishments, including CSTC’s 2023 reach (nearly 19,000 audience members from across 61 of 62 zip codes in the state and 36 states across the country) and 2024 audience growth (with attendance up 59% to date year-over year). He further highlighted the exciting opportunity for coastal Delaware audiences to experience the creation of a new musical firsthand with one of the summer presented events: a staged reading of the new musical Psyche by Jake Landeau and Emily Garber. This New York-based creative team will spend three weeks in residence this summer before a weekend of performances, which will include both Broadway artists and CSTC summer ensemble performers. Not only will this workshop help the project take its final shape artistically, it will also enable our season artists to work together with national artists of significant caliber during their summer residency with us. Plus, CSTC announced the hire of new Director of Development and Community Engagement, Todd Espeland who will join us in late June.

Neil Kirschling, Executive Director of Delaware Arts Alliance, shared details on DAA’s statewide CREATE study and emphasized the importance of empowering artists and fostering understanding among elected officials about the significance of the arts for our state. The CREATE study is the first of its kind nationwide, in analyzing and providing recommendations at the municipal, county, and state level for how the cultural sector can be better be embraced for economic impact and quality of life. The study offers up 25 recommendations, varying from review of municipal ordinances to reduce barriers of access to the arts to recommendations for the creation of arts hubs in key communities across the state to help artists of all disciplines gather, develop, and grow. Neil also encouraged attendees to advocate to their elected officials to help increase funding for the Delaware Division of the Arts during the current legislative session.

After remarks, there were questions for Neil, Joe, and David. Then, board member and Producer’s Circle member Ida Rowe shared a few closing words about why she and her husband Jeff participate in Clear Space – encouraging our guests to consider joining them as volunteers and donors to help bring us all one step closer to Clear Space’s bright future.

Before and after the program, guests enjoyed a light reception which was sponsored by Ida and Jeff Rowe.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at the event. Here’s to 2024!

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Delaware Division of the Arts

This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

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