Lisa Condit spoke The Hanover Theatre chairman of the board, Steve Joseph, about his vision for the future of the theatre in light of present times. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Then tune into WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Lisa: I’d love it if you could tell us about yourself and how you became involved with The Hanover Theatre.
Steve: Some people who knew me in my younger days would probably say, “How did a person like you, who spent most of his life on a football field, end up so involved at The Hanover Theatre.” It’s really about my wife and meeting her back in high school.
We were in high school together, and she was a dancer. I was smart enough to realize that if I ever had a chance of spending much time with her, I’d better start learning a little more about dance and the arts. I can remember seeing her dance for the first time, and I was so impressed with the athleticism, the grace, and, certainly, after watching her and the other dancers, you could really appreciate the hard work and dedication they had devoted to their craft.
Lisa: It is a very similar discipline that you need to apply both to athletics and to the arts, and the arts, some people would say, is really that workout for the mind and creativity.
Steve: I remember reading about the construction going on at the theatre. I already had it in mind to be a founding member, so I said, “Let’s go pick our seats.” Since then, we’ve continued to be involved and have just loved going with family and friends.
Lisa: And take note, this is one of the ways you stay happily married. You call your wife and you invite her to lunch, and then you say, “Honey, pick out our seats.”
You’ve seen the organization grow since the very beginning, a thrilling time in our history. We’re in another crucial time in our history. At the board level, what precipitated the board match challenge for The Hanover Theatre COVID-19 Resiliency Fund?
Steve: Since we’ve been going through this pandemic, we’ve been discussing as a board, how do we make sure that the theatre survives through this? One of the things we immediately thought about was that we needed to reach out to our audience. I firmly believe, and our board firmly believes, that if we’re going to ask the community to help maintain the theatre, when they do have many other choices, it’s extremely important that the board steps up and shows their commitment first.
Lisa: It always means more to people when they know the organization supports itself, as well. So, what’s your vision, given all of this, for the theatre and conservatory during your term on the board?
Steve: Who would have thought that just a few months after taking over we’d be in the middle of this pandemic in this very challenging situation for the theatre? When I first took over as chairman, my vision was continuing to expand our offerings. We’re always going to have our Broadway Series, but what other shows, educational series, can we bring in? Also, what I think is important is how do we increase diversity at the theatre of our staff, our shows, our audience? The more people we get involved in the community, the better the theatre is going to be. I think the other piece that’s been greatly successful is our conservatory. We started small with that and we’ve expanded the space over the last several months. Even during this time, we’re still holding online classes. The way things have maybe adjusted a bit since the pandemic, is how do we make sure that we stabilize the finances of theatre to make sure that we’re ready to reopen?
Lisa: How would you describe what you would like your legacy to be as chairman of the board?
Steve: I’m hoping that my legacy isn’t that we had the least amount of shows in my two-year term.
Lisa: I don’t think you have to worry about that. Our very first season, we had fewer shows.
Steve: There’s a saying that talks about honoring those who came before you. From my perspective, the board chairs, members of the board who have served, did a tremendous job of building the theatre to one of the premiere theatres in the country. To me, my legacy is asking how do I maintain that? How do we expand that? How do we make it stronger? And I think the other piece that’s important is an endowment, or expanding the support of the theatre to maintain its long-term viability.
Lisa: I look forward to what I know will be a bright future.