Members of our group have been told, repeatedly, that we don’t represent all the stakeholders the board must consider in their decision-making. The board president has said this directly to a few of our representatives. She and others on the board repeat this talking point when questioned by the media, as well.

While our number seems to be somewhere between 250 and something north of 500, we are admittedly not the entire Rochester or southeastern Minnesota community. But it is also apparent that our make-up is not fully understood as we’ve been characterized as a small group of individuals or a group of individuals who feel disgruntled. If, perhaps, our group consisted of only actors or some other specific class of volunteers, there could be some validity to that position.

But that is not the case, and we have tried seemingly in vain to help the board officers understand the scope and breadth of our group. There will no doubt be some accidental omissions, but here is a list of some of the make-up of the Friends of RCT.

  • Volunteers
    • Set builders
    • Painters
    • Actors
    • Musicians
    • Follow-spot operators
    • Sound operators
    • Stage managers
    • Back-stage crew
    • House managers
    • Ushers
    • Bartenders
    • Costumer assistants
    • Prop builders
    • Prop room help
    • Former board members
    • Former board presidents
  • Regular season ticket holders
  • Regular donors
  • Patrons of theatrical performances
  • Patrons of Civic Live music events
  • Patrons of outreach events such as Women on Wednesdays
  • Students and former students of Civic education programs
  • Ages from youth through retired (youthful in spirit) people
  • Fast-food workers
  • Engineers
  • Small business owners
  • Doctors and other health professionals
  • Service industry workers
  • College students
  • People who’ve rented the RCT space for their events
  • Artists who’ve displayed their work in the RCT lobby
  • Former RCT leadership
  • Former employees of RCT
  • Leaders of other theatres
  • Regular patrons of theatre throughout the region

We struggle to understand what aspect of the community we do not represent. Perhaps it is the casual theatre goer who sees a show once every few years or community members who don’t know about RCT and what it has offered. Perhaps it is those who take the board president’s word as truth without doing any research or asking any thoughtful questions. Indeed, we don’t appear to represent those folks.

But what distinguishes this group from other people in our community is a passion for theatre. The same passion that led a small group of individuals to form a community theatre in Rochester back in 1951. The same passion that helped that group and their successors grow that seed into what was the premiere theatre in the region. The same passion that helped that theatre build audiences with top-notch performances of timely shows bringing in new patrons, young patrons, at a time other theatres throughout the country have been struggling. The same passion that drives collaboration and a work ethic of volunteers of which other non-profits can only dream.

Maybe Kay Hocker is right. We don’t represent the community at large. We represent only those who care deeply about theatre, care deeply about RCT, and care deeply about each other.