Writers Theatre

Background

Writers Theatre, hailed as the “best drama company in the nation” by the Wall Street Journal, was launching a $34 million capital campaign – “On to A New Stage” – to build a new theater complex in the northern Chicago suburb of Glencoe. Designed by internationally-renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by principal Jeanne Gang, the new theatre would recognize Writers’ reputation for excellence, and allow for growth in audience and in new events for students and the local community. To prepare for the campaign, Writers needed assistance in developing messaging and materials to present to prospective donors, and training for development staff and board members to make the ask. Following the groundbreaking for the new theater, Writers required media planning to prepare for the grand opening.

Our Work

Working with the development and artistic teams and board leadership of the theatre, we and our graphic design partner carried out copy development and editing for the elegant fundraising brochure. We studied the competitive positioning of the theatre, and led a team of theatre executives and board members through fact-finding and messaging sessions to create the thematic narrative for the brochure – the vitality of Writers Theatre and the critical need for a new facility to sustain its distinctive artistic and audience experience. We equipped development staff and board members with an FAQ to answer the tough questions and make the strongest case for the new building. In the run-up to the official opening, we prepared a comprehensive local and national media relations plan to promote the theatre’s artistic and executive leadership and the impact of the new theatre on the broader Chicago theatrical community.

Impact

The new brochure was produced and in the hands of fundraisers to begin discussions about the campaign with key stakeholders well ahead of the groundbreaking. Staff was equipped with the additional messaging to support the campaign in presentations to prospective donors. Development staff and board members enthusiastically embraced the materials as integral to these important discussions, which helped meet targeted goals. Media relations, carried out with theatre leadership and communications counsel, generated widespread excitement for the opening of the new center. The opening received widespread Chicago area and national newspaper, magazine, TV and radio exposure, ranging from the Chicago Tribune and WTTW to American Way magazine and the Wall Street Journal, and all leading architecture media.