In case you missed it, The LA Times had a great article the other day about the role that the arts can play in tough economic times: “We know from the 1930s that the stimulating effect of art and entertainment comes … in the emotional links with the public that absorbs this work and takes it to heart.” We’re certainly a long way from a Great Depression, but most of us would probably agree a little upliftment might be in order. Which is why ExecutiveBiz recently caught up with Wolf Trap’s president and CEO, Terre Jones. For nearly 40 years, Wolf Trap has been a local institution, showcasing the best that the performing arts has to offer. Here Jones fill us in on the latest at Wolf Trap, with a lineup that will last well into the summer.
What’s the no. 1 thing people may not know about Wolf Trap?
Terre Jones: A lot of people think of Wolf Trap first and foremost as an outdoor summer venue, which we are, but our attractions don’t stop there. Right now we have The Barns going on. The venue offers a wide range of live performance options, including our classical chamber music series, “The Discovery Series,” which presents young classical artists in the small Barns concert setting, an intimate space with about 400 seats. At intermission, you get to ask questions of the artists, which is pretty unusual.
Can you share your upcoming lineup?
Terre Jones: The Pacifica Quartet, which is a wonderful string quartet, is coming up in early April. Barrage, is a high octane fiddle group from Canada that will perform in April as well. On the other side of the musical map, John Eaton does a great jazz program, “The Music of the 40s.” Tom Paxton, a great folk artist, is coming up, and Chuck Brown. We’ve got an evening of comedy at the end of the Barn season, in early May.
How has the economic downturn affected your lineup, if at all?
Terre Jones: It really hasn’t. Last summer reflected our highest ticket sales ever in the history of Wolf Trap — obviously we were in the midst of this economic downturn at that point. As far as planning either for the Barn season, which we’re in the midst of, or the summer season, which we have 60 to 70 performances already planned for, we’ve not felt the need to have anything less than a full roster.
How can people support Wolf Trap?
Terre Jones: One way is simply to give your time and volunteer. We have volunteer ushers and other volunteer service people in the gift shops and other areas. Then, obviously, coming to the performances is a great way to support Wolf Trap; whether it’s to the Summer Filene Center season in the National Park or The Barns venue the rest of the year. As a not-for-profit foundation we support not only performance, we are heavily involved in education, especially early childhood education, which contributions support. We have a program called Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, for example.
What’s next for Wolf Trap?
Terre Jones: Obviously we’re in the depth of planning for the summer season. Beyond that we are looking to continue to build on the success that Wolf Trap has experienced over its 38 years. One of the critical things for not-for-profits like ours is to continue to build our endowments. That’s in the horizon, so is strengthening our use of technology, particularly outreach to audiences utilizing technology: blogs, social networks, even an internet radio station dedicated to Wolf Trap. So, as we look to the future we will continue to cultivate new audiences.
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