May 11, 2020
Dear friends –
First of all, I want to offer up a heartfelt THANK YOU to the more than 1500 subscribers who have already renewed for our upcoming season! We are absolutely humbled by your support and faith.
For those who may still be on the fence, we now have more details to share on some of the ways we are planning for the upcoming season.
As I mentioned in my last letter to you, the very best way to help Forward through the year ahead is to buy a subscription.
But with so much uncertainty out there about what that year may look like, we completely understand that subscribing feels like quite a leap of faith! And we are doing everything in our power to make that leap less scary.
I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: all of our artistic and financial successes to date can be traced back to the loyalty of our incredible subscribers. None of what we have achieved would have been possible without you. And our future likewise depends on you. Taking care of you remains our number one priority.
So here’s a closer look at what we are planning (with some exciting new updates!):
• We are ready to work with Overture Center’s amazing ticketing and maintenance staff to follow any health and safety guidelines regarding limits on seating, and cleaning processes. Should we need to reduce attendance at any performances, we’re ready to work with you to accommodate those changes.
• We are partnering with Actor’s Equity Association and the other professional theater unions to develop protocols that will allow us to safely rehearse and tech our productions.
• As long as our productions can safely be rehearsed and mounted, we plan to film them. And we have now received permission from Actors’ Equity Association to offer those filmed versions to our subscribers for remote viewing for any reason. There is still work to be done to fully make this a reality, but the greatest hurdle has been passed. Even when the government allows full attendance of live events, and Forward mounts these shows for a live audience, you will have the option to choose to instead be sent an online link to watch our productions from your home. That way you can make your own decisions about what feels safe for you in real time. We know that theater on a screen is a pale shadow of what we all experience together in the Playhouse. But we also feel that being able to experience these stories in any way – especially during these tumultuous times – is much better than missing them altogether!
• If we are unable, due to evolving waves of COVID-19 infections, to safely rehearse and film any of our productions, we will either postpone the impacted production until mid-2021, or we will cancel the production and provide a full refund of your ticket price.
The bottom line is that none of us can know exactly how the year ahead will unfold. We are all going to need to respond nimbly and transparently to changing circumstances. Here at Forward, we are developing plans for every conceivable scenario to be as prepared as we possibly can be. In all our planning, we are thinking about how to support our audiences – and especially our subscribers – through these tough times. We know you will want art, and stories, and ways of connecting. And we also know you will want to feel physically safe. That’s what we all want. And together, we will find ways to be together and connected during the coming season.
If you have been on the fence about renewing your subscription, or subscribing for the first time, I hope that this information is reassuring. If you have further questions – or ideas! – for Forward, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
Originally, the deadline to renew your subscription (and keep your current seats) was May 15th. With the new information we’re sharing with you, we want to give you a little more time to make your decision. The renewal deadline is now June 1st.
There’s not a lot that anyone can guarantee for the year ahead. We are in uncharted waters. But I can promise you this: we are committed to our audience’s physical – and emotional – wellbeing. We are committed to the livelihoods of Wisconsin’s professional theater artists. We are committed to open, transparent communication. And we are committed to continuing to share stories with our community that will bring us together in ways big and small.
We love you.
Stay safe out there.
Jen Uphoff Gray