From the Board of Directors
Friday, October 2, 2020
Dear Revels Community –
You’ve just learned that Greg Lewis is changing roles, shifting responsibilities from Executive Director to part-time Director of Special Projects, with Colin K. Bills becoming Producing Director and Ross Wixon becoming Administrating Director. So what does this change, in the face of so many others, mean for Washington Revels?
As a performing arts community, we are well accustomed to changing roles. Every year, we change our theme for The Christmas Revels, while retaining the steadfast elements of community and celebration. And our cycle of year-round activities celebrates the changing of the seasons. These experiences prepare us, in part, for the kinds of staffing changes that are also occurring now at Revels.
Certainly, Washington Revels is facing challenging times. The pandemic’s necessity of social distancing may have altered our traditional Christmas Revels to a virtual celebration, and yet it has also inspired a whole new “Season of Reveling” with celebrations that extend beyond the stage. We may have moved from our office base in Silver Spring to Glen Echo Park, but we are now surrounded by more arts organizations, offering new creative collaborations. We can meet these challenges, and seize these opportunities, because we are blessed that Washington Revels is stable and strong, thanks to great leadership and talent, and thanks to a great Revels community.
But, fundamentally, Washington Revels will manage these challenges successfully, precisely because these times call out for us to come together to revel. Over the centuries, especially during difficult periods, people have felt a need to share in the celebration of cultural moments, manifesting their mutual support, fortitude, and gratitude. These times call out for us to gather (even if virtually!), to sing and dance, to “take joy!”
The strength of the Washington Revels organization makes possible the recently-announced leadership changes, so that we can adapt strategically and create our virtual “Season of Reveling.” It is possible because we can draw on the deep administrative and creative strengths of Colin Bills, Ross Wixon, Roberta Gasbarre, Betsy Fulford, Jo Rasi, Andrea Blackford, Mike Matheson, and many others, as well as the dedicated support of the Washington Revels community.
Thank you for your continued support, now more necessary than ever, as we celebrate the changes that bring new exciting opportunities to our community.
—Jim Lazar, Joan Burns, Gary Correll, Claudia Dulmage, Cyndie Langstaff, Lars Peterson, Karen Schofield-Leca, and Terry Winslow (The Washington Revels Board of Directors)
To help everyone out, we have tried to anticipate and answer some questions that might arise regarding this transition:
Q1: What responsibilities will Colin and Ross have in their new positions?
As Producing Director, Colin will oversee the production of all of Washington Revels’ performance and community engagement programs, working with the Directors of those programs. As Administrating Director, in addition to directing Revels’ marketing and development activities, Ross will also assume day-to-day oversight of Washington Revels’ administrative and business operations. Ross and Colin will share together the financial management of Washington Revels; they will be assisted closely by Gary Correll, Revels’ Treasurer and Chair of the Board’s Finance & Audit Committee. Decisions concerning adding or discontinuing programs will be made by Colin and Ross together, in conjunction with the Directors of those programs and the Programs Committee of the Board of Directors.
Q2: I used to contact Greg when I had a general question or problem. Who do I contact now?
If the question relates to a program, contact Colin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Director of the specific program. If it relates to anything else, contact Ross (email@example.com).
Q3: Is Washington Revels OK financially?
Yes, for now. Like virtually all performing arts organizations, we have been hurt by the pandemic, most particularly by the loss of net revenue caused by the cancellation of our live Christmas Revels production this December. However, with the help of some special grants, Washington Revels has been able to avoid cutting staff or compensation. This should remain the case at least through the end of our 2021 fiscal year next June 30. After that we will have to see.
Q4: What has the Board done so far to recruit a new Executive Director, and what does the Board anticipate doing next?
“When Greg announced that he planned to retire from the Executive Director position in FY2021, the Board began planning for a new executive director. Following much brainstorming about what the job could look like, and anticipating that Colin Bills would be taking over the Producer role formerly held by Greg, the Board crafted and approved a new Executive Director job description. In early 2020 the Board began the initial phase of a local search, but because of the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, the search had to be deferred when it became clear that the whole programming process was upended and had to be substantially altered to create instead a virtual Christmas Revels. We were then faced with leaving our Silver Spring office and base. Yet, even with these challenges, we realized that we had great Revels talent already in hand with Colin, Ross, Roberta, Betsy, Andrea, Jo, and many others, who know Washington Revels intimately and who could see us through to next year and even beyond. The Board is also confident this team should be given the reins to run Revels right now to navigate these new and complex challenges as “A Season of Reveling” unfolds. We will assess where we are in early 2021, but we know we are now in a very good position, thanks to our past and current talented leaders.
Q5: What is Washington Revels’ response to the call for all institutions to address racial injustice and diversity, equity, and inclusion?
As reflected in our letter of June 6 to the Revels community, Washington Revels takes issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion very seriously. To do so is already in our ethos: embracing different cultures around the world is a hallmark of our programming, and we revel in sharing how humanity over the ages comes together to celebrate and give thanks. Nevertheless, in line with the nation’s heightened focus on racial injustice, Revels has taken on an intense self-examination of our programs, community engagement, and leadership structures. The Board and Staff together are currently deeply engaged in this work and soon will open the circle, particularly to engage with communities of color to explore shared purposes. We believe the near-term outcomes will contribute significantly to more inclusive modes of planning and a broader definition of Revels community and celebrations. Revels programming is already more diverse, and that commitment will grow. Diversity, equity, and inclusion will become an important and enduring part of Washington Revels’ thinking as we move forward. We see it as an opportunity to broaden and enrich our partnerships, programs, and community.
Q6: Who will staff the new offices at Glen Echo?
John Blakeslee, our Office Manager, is scheduled to be there all weekdays except when he is on leave. Grace VanderVeer, Education & Volunteer Manager, will be in the office 3-4 days per week, and working from home otherwise. Ross, Colin and Greg will be in periodically and will work from home otherwise.
Q7: How do I get in touch with Revels staff at the Glen Echo location after the move?
Our general Revels email address will still be firstname.lastname@example.org. Our general Washington Revels tel # — 301-587-3835 — also will not change. We do not expect to have an auto-attendant capability similar to what we have had for the past decade. If no one answers your call, leave a voicemail message and it will be forwarded to whomever you are trying to reach.
Q8: Where are our facilities located at Glen Echo?
Washington Revels has rented 3 classrooms on the third floor of the Arcade Building, one floor above the Glen Echo Park administrative offices. Our administrative offices will be in Room 301, which looks out on the Carousel. Rooms 302 and 303 will house virtually all of our costume and props storage as well as a work space for our Costume Team.
Q9: What is Washington Revels’ address at Glen Echo?
The mailing address is P.O. Box 665, Glen Echo, MD 20812. The actual street address for Glen Echo Park is 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, MD 20812.
Q10: Can I and my family come visit Washington Revels’ new facilities?
Yes, but please email or call to schedule a date/time before doing so. We are subject to a strict COVID-19 protocol, and no more than 4 people at a time are allowed into any of the classroom spaces.