(From Michael Brix, our outgoing Executive Director)
It was the summer of 1999 when I first stepped nervously onto the stage at Eastern College, which would serve as my classroom for the next four weeks. I was expecting 12 middle schoolers to walk through the door in just a few moments, waiting for me to teach them everything I knew about acting. I was prepared, but terrified. It would be a lie to say that I remember what I taught that day, but I remember reading to them from a picture book called Amazing Grace, and then starting instruction with neutral acting bodies.
In the coming years, I would continue to teach acting, direct the summer shows, and become part of a dynamic young team of artist-educators who wanted to change the world through our work with these kids. Brooke, Jake, Sarah, Joanna, and I would dream and plan for hours, often at the foot of Mark Hallen, our mentor, co-conspirator, and (as time went on) our friend. Except for one year when I was on a sabbatical trip, I have been a part of every year since I joined in 1999. When our team agreed to trust me with leadership as our Executive Director, I was so very honored. I was determined to not let them down and we built an amazing, vibrant, youth-focused program that I am extremely proud of.
Some of my favorite parts of my time here included: creating and shaping our teen program (Shadow Company), their first show in the Fringe Festival-a flash mob we performed on South Street, dropping off my kids for their first summer camp experience, getting our 501(c)3 letter in the mail, the first time our summer camps had to start a wait-list, our kickball tournaments, auction parties, and VIP receptions, as well as having the chance to meet the Phillies! Of course, there were hard times and moments I’d rather forget as well, such is the way of every job.
As I turn the page on this chapter of my life, I want to encourage all of you to step forward to make sure that this life-giving organization continues on into the future. Please take a minute to click and pledge today – perhaps a monthly gift to sustain this work – or maybe a one-time gift that will help us mark this transition time.
I’ve spent this week tying up loose ends and trying to find moments to reflect, remember, and enjoy this period of my life. In all of the whirlwind of last-minute things as I prepare to leave the office for the final time as the Executive Director, I must remember back to my first lesson to my theatre campers and find that “neutral” again. I can’t wait to see all of the good that Yes! And… Collaborative Arts will continue to do and I look forward to supporting it with you all!
Thank you all, for everything.