Starting with A Stage Reborn
It's hard to believe that A Stage Reborn has been an organization for almost 10 years. While I haven't been a part of it from the beginning, I came into the organization at an exciting time, just off the heels of several wildly successful projects, and with a lot of momentum behind the projects and organization as a whole. We were just finishing up and waiting on the IRS to officially recognize us as a nonprofit, and things looked great. At the time though, we were much more focused on small-scale content creation. We had a broad mission, but a very narrow scope, and the Board of Directors realized that. We were running things like a community theatre troupe, but we were looking at things and we saw that it was always the same volunteers, participants, etc. The board was largely stagnant, and there wasn't interest in moving away from things that we knew. I didn't expect to come into the position that I have today, I was here to help break the cycle of doing nothing but stage shows in Final Fantasy XIV. It was only though some unfortunate circumstances that I needed to step up into the Vice Presidency, and I've stayed there for a while. Over the years, I've certainly pushed for some other projects, from Reads:Anon cold table reading to ASR Sings! an attempt at a virtual choir, and several other projects in between.
Challenges Leading up to COVID-19
Many of the programs that we had in the past had some issues. We dealt with anything from apathy for branching out, founder's syndrome, people taking on projects with no project management experience, title-to-responsibility mismatch, and lack of experience in a non-profit environment. It's that last point that really hit us hard over the years, because we started as an informal community group that made their mission real -- but that came with the downside of meaning there are new regulations imposed on us by the government. We admit, it takes the fun out of a lot of it, but several people agreed that it was more important than the pure "we're having fun" concept. That lead over time to some attrition, of core volunteers and board members alike. Some thought the title of "Director" meant something related to the content creation, and not that they were a decision maker of the organization itself. Up until COVID-19 hit, we were coasting on success, but there were some major issues with the organization under the surface.
Missed Opportunities During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic initially seemed like a chance to advance our mission and provide crucial support to the community during a difficult time. With school and community groups suspending operations and people staying home for safety, the need for arts outreach and education programs was greater than ever. However, like many organizations, we found that the pandemic exposed and exacerbated the pre-existing issues that underpinned our struggles. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to fully capitalize on the opportunities presented by the pandemic, and our organization faced significant challenges as a result. In the wake of these difficulties, we are committed to rebranding and restructuring our approach to better serve the wider arts community as it emerges from the pandemic.
A New A Stage Reborn
As we look ahead to 2023, we are excited to emerge from the challenges of the past few years as a more streamlined and focused organization that is committed to making a positive impact on the arts community. We recognize that we must balance the need for change and growth with the core values and mission that have driven our organization from the beginning.Despite the challenges we faced, we are proud of the progress we have made in restructuring our Board of Directors. With a smaller team of three dedicated members, we are able to pivot our approach quickly, make necessary changes to our documents and procedures, and establish a more sustainable foundation for growth. While we understand that there are still significant challenges ahead, we are optimistic about our ability to make a meaningful contribution to the arts community and support the return to live performances and community events.
What I Have Been Working On
In the past few years, I've been involved in several important projects that, while perhaps less visible, were critical to laying the groundwork for our organization's relaunch. One of the most significant was our migration from Microsoft services to Google Services. This move was necessary due to licensing and non-profit program changes, and it required a significant amount of time and effort to migrate all of our corporate documents, work product, chats, email, and other important data. We had to refactor permissions for access and undertake other management tasks to ensure a smooth transition. While this process took longer than we had hoped, it allowed us to produce a wealth of internal documentation that will be invaluable in the future.Another important focus for us has been re-evaluating how we solicit and accept donations. Many of our partners changed their non-profit programs, and some programs that were previously tax-free are now considered taxable income. This posed a significant challenge for our small non-profit, and we had to explore new approaches to ensure our sustainability.As part of this effort, we have decided to prioritize Fiscal Sponsorship as a key area of focus going forward. We have successfully implemented this approach in the past with the High Plains MiniCon, and we believe that it has the potential to have a significant impact on the arts community as a whole. Through Fiscal Sponsorship, we hope to provide much-needed support to emerging artists and organizations and help them navigate the complex financial and regulatory landscape of the arts.During the pandemic, our registered agent was shuttered, which posed a significant challenge for our organization since registered agents are essential for companies without physical office space. To address this issue, I offered to provide a physical address for the organization since I had recently purchased a house in Tacoma, WA. While handling mail and regulatory documentation for the organization doesn't take up much of my time, changing our mailing address with the Secretary of State, IRS, banks, and other entities did require a significant amount of effort.
We have several ongoing projects that we're working on, including a revamp of our social media channels. Our goal is to streamline our online presence, while involving more individuals and groups in our official rebranding. Discord will be updated to reflect recent platform changes, while Tumblr will be phased out. We plan to make greater use of LinkedIn, while discussions continue regarding our approach to YouTube.In addition, we are exploring the creation of subsidiary for-profit organizations to manage high-risk or taxable income programs. This approach will enable us to support content-creation projects while minimizing financial risk. While we remain committed to our long-time supporters, we recognize the importance of focusing on new organizations that need our support.We're also actively seeking partnerships with other non-profit organizations, building on our past success with groups such as Extra Life. These partnerships offer a great opportunity for outreach and engagement, both for us and for our partners.Finally, we're excited to be completing a full rebranding, with a new logo already in the works. We can't wait to see what Steve and the team come up with as we continue to move forward.
I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to our long-time supporters. Your unwavering commitment to our mission has been the foundation upon which we've been able to weather the storms of the past few years. Despite the challenges we've faced, you've continued to stand by us and offer your support, whether that's been through your time, your financial contributions, or your encouragement.Without your dedication and belief in what we do, we wouldn't be where we are today. You've helped us keep the spark of creativity alive, even during the darkest times. And for that, I can't thank you enough. As we move forward, we'll continue to honor your trust by doing everything we can to make a meaningful impact on the arts and communities we serve.So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You're an essential part of the Stage Reborn family, and we couldn't do this without you.