Featured Member: The Mighty Quinn Foundation

The Mighty Quinn Foundation is the 501c(3) behind the Stratford-based Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford, a summer theater program for college students; and the New Works Lab @ Stratford, a program to support playwrights and directors creating new writing. In 2016, it takes the reins for the town’s theater program, In the Spotlight, a 30-year-old, town-run theatre program for 7-12th graders. Wright operates the foundation with her husband, Chris Rooney, and their children.

Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford 2016 Mighty Quinn FoundationCAGCT: The foundation is named for your son Quinn, who died of a rare brain cancer in 2012. Tell us about why theatre.

SW: For most of Quinn’s life we lived in Stratford and Quinn grew up playing on the grounds of the Shakespeare theatre. He would mow the lawn when it was in disrepair. He loved theatre. He even wrote an impassioned letter to the people at the festival: why don’t you have more young people involved?

Because if you have young people involved, their parents will come to the show. It will sell more tickets. After he died, we wanted to create something to honor his spirit and joy.

CAGCT: Why did you choose Shakespeare?
SW: We approached two friends of Quinn’s who were recent college graduates. We had an idea of doing a theatre program on the festival grounds. They researched programs around the country and the world, and came up with the framework. It is filling a niche that had not been created elsewhere.

(The program is a six-week, educationally intensive workshop on the grounds of the former American Shakespeare Festival Theater in Stratford. Students take daily classes in Shakespeare performance and contemporary ensemble theater- making and perform two Shakespeare plays in repertoire at the end of the program.)

CAGCT: You lease space from the town at “The White House” on the Shakespeare grounds for your academy. The building has had some improvements. How is the space?

It’s a work in progress but it is great to have the space. We would like to have the ability to do programming throughout the year. Workshops for high school students to learn how to audition. Offer weekend classes for adult actors, that sort of thing. We want to keep expanding theatre programming, but we want to be sure we do it well.

Urinetown by In the Spotlight Stratford Mighty Quinn Foundation

CAGCT: The foundation’s latest addition is the long-running town theatre program, “In the Spotlight,” which many Stratford-ites know well. How did that come about?

SW: The town did not have the funding to keep it. So they reached out to us. Tammy Trojanowski will be helping to transition it. Three of my four children performed through the program, including Quinn.

They do a musical production in the spring/summer every year for youth. The one we are doing this year is “Urinetown” (which is a really awful name for a terrific show, by the way).

Alumni from the program are doing an Indiegogo campaign. And because there is not a theater that has air conditioning in Stratford, we are going to be doing the performances at the Klein Theatre in Bridgeport.

Auditions were in May and the program runs June 13 through July 23. It overlaps with the Shakespeare Academy.

CAGCT: It sounds like you’ve hit the ground running with this program.

SW: We have tons of very dedicated “In the Spotlight” parents, alumni and advisory board members! They are helping us do different parts of the program, helping us to keep the program alive.

CAGCT: You mentioned that you have other family involved in the foundation as well.

SW: Joe lives in the city so he isn’t involved in the day-to-day. He is our treasurer. Our son, Brendan, is the residential life coordinator. Katie, who is a junior at Laurelton, she does babysitting for the Master Class teachers and does anything needed to help things run smoothly. She helps with taking photos. And of course [my husband] Chris [Rooney] is the Board Chairman.

CAGCT: That is one dedicated family! Thanks Sue!

Building the Website You Deserve

Build a Website for Artists & CreativesThis week, Mark Hannon and I will begin teaching the class “Building Your Website, For Artists & Creatives.” The class costs $175/$135 for members and includes a year’s of web hosting.

Does that seem like a lot of money? I think it probably does. But consider this:

According the The Guardian, in “Selling Art Work Online and Reaching New Markets” one of the most critical aspects of selling artwork online is a having an up-to-date online presence.

“92% of art buyers said that the quality of the artwork image and the information presented on the website were the most important factors when buying art online.”

Paying for It in the Long Run

Web designers are happy to create a site for you, but they won’t train you to run it, update it, keep it fresh. And the initial design alone can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Websites require backups and updates that, if they aren’t completed, can break the site.

In order to keep your website up-to-date — with new artwork, events, or just wonderful blog posts about your latest project — the best course of action for an artist on a budget is to learn to create and maintain a website yourself.

You can do that this March. Classes start this Thursday and we have a few slots left. Come and join us. You will be glad you did.

–Elizabeth Howard

This class is currently closed. If you would like to see this class offered again, please contact us and let us know! Thanks!

Should I Build My Artist’s Website?

If you are an artist or creative person without a website or social media presence, here’s a sad truth:

You are missing out on the bulk of business exposure opportunities.

However, if you want to reach your customers and art lovers and really sell your work, it’s time to come to terms with the reality that most people are spending more and more time online.

Do I really Need a Website?

Yes. A website is a your online home and gallery. It’s where you get to reach out to the world, share your work, and tell them who you are.

It’s often the first place (and hopefully not the last!) that people will interact with you and your art.

If you think about it, this is AMAZING! In the past, artists and their followers could only meet people in person! Now, you have the chance to extend your reach to any corner of the world, to virtually anyone with internet access.

The website is your launchpad to marketing yourself. Do you feel intimidated by the idea of “marketing” yourself? That’s normal.

Just think of a website as a (practically free, beautiful, ever-customized!) listing in the yellow pages. If you don’t have one, how will people find you??

Why Learn to Design a Website Myself?

If you hire a designer create a site for you, that’s great! They will love you for it! Most designers will create professional, beautiful sites that you will be proud of.

However…

Here are the THREE Cs of why learning to design it yourself may be better for an artists or creatives right now:

  • Creative Control – It isn’t always easy to express to another designer what you are seeing in your mind. Your website expresses the ‘YOU’ brand. It says what you want it say and looks the way you want it to. Doing it yourself gives you that control.
  • Cost – Over time the cost of changes to a site definitely add up. You don’t have to pay yourself anything to change an image, add a page, or post a blog update once you know how to do it yourself.
  • Continuing Education – There is nothing better than expanding your skillsets and learning more in life!

If you are ready to get serious, then..

Take This Class

If you don’t have a website, you can sign up now for the Coastal Arts Guild of CT’s 4-week course “Building a Website for Artists and Creatives.”

Building a Website

Build a Website for Artists & Creatives

The course — co-taught by designer Mark Hannon and content and social media specialist Elizabeth Howard– will give you opportunity to create your OWN HOME online.

This class is currently closed. If you would like to see this class offered again, please contact us and let us know! Thanks!