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AUG 2021

Overture Executive Leadship Team seated together

Photo by Amadou Kromah

It’s official! Overture announces Executive Shared Leadership Team

“The Overture Center Foundation Board unanimously approved the shared leadership model, and we are confident in our team to help lead this organization,” said Overture Foundation Board Chair Pablo Sanchez. “Using a shared leadership model lessens the organization’s dependence on any one person and strengthens strategic thinking and decision-making capacity across a broader range of staff members.”

The current team successfully assumed management responsibility of the entire organization upon the death of former CEO/President Sandra Gajic in December 2019, managing full operations with daily events through mid-March 2020 and the subsequent months of closure, reduced staff and loss of earned revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the uncertainty of the arts industry and financial considerations at the time, the search for a CEO/president was suspended last summer, and it will not be resumed for the foreseeable future.

The executive shared leadership team consists of the following members with new titles:

  • Matt Beckler, Chief Information Officer
  • Jacquie Goetz, Chief Operations Officer
  • Emily Gruenewald, Chief Development and Communications Officer
  • Ed Holmes, PhD, Chief Equity and Innovation Officer
  • Tim Sauers, Chief Artistic Experiences Officer
  • Chris Vogel, Chief Financial Officer/Chief Business Officer

I am honored and excited to take on this unique leadership opportunity with this group of exceptional arts professionals. This is an incredible team with vast institutional and industry knowledge. We have been in the trenches together through COVID-19 and other major challenges. Against conventional wisdom and what we are seeing across the country, we continue to not only survive but thrive, surpassing all that has been expected of us.

We have worked through the loss of our CEO/President Sandra Gajic, through the global pandemic that we still find ourselves trying to navigate in what has become a volatile live venue arts industry as our reality and the landscape around us change daily. It has been one challenge and one tough decision after another, but we continue to weather the storm, and we look forward to a successful reopening in the coming weeks. In a year of tremendous change, and while working virtually from our homes, our progress has never stopped. We are proud of the many accomplishments over the past year and a half, and while I feel like a seasoned veteran in this new model of leadership, I am reminded by the new challenges we face daily that we are just getting started.

Ed Holmes, PhD

Chief Equity and Innovation Officer

Overture Center announces COVID-19 policies

All who enter building must wear a face mask and show proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test

When live performances return to Overture Center for the Arts in September, we want to offer the safest environment possible for our patrons, artists, employees, volunteers and community. Following the lead of performing arts centers and live performance venues across the nation, we have implemented the following requirements for everyone who enters the building:

  • must wear a face mask that covers nose and mouth
  • must be fully vaccinated, meaning their last dose must have been administered at least 14 days before the event.
  • must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination with a physical vaccination card, a photograph of the card or a digital vaccination record, or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior to the performance, with a photo identification, such as a driver’s license, passport or student identification. 

For full details, click here.

“Safety is our number one concern,” said Jacquie Goetz, chief operations officer. “We understand these requirements may seem strict, but when we’re gathering hundreds or even thousands of people together, we want to do our part to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19. We want everyone who enters Overture to feel safe.”

Broadway recently expanded its vaccination mandate beyond performers and backstage crew to include audiences. In addition, Overture Center has mandated proof of vaccination for its staff and volunteers.

Ticket holders who do not want to wear a face mask and those who are unable to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test may obtain a ticket refund by contacting the Ticket Office at tickets@overture.org or 608.258.4141. Refunds are being accepted for shows through September 30, 2021. Refund policies will be evaluated monthly.

In addition to vaccination and mask requirements, Overture has made the following updates to its facility and operations:

  • Installed touchless security systems at entrances
  • Installed touchless credit card readers at the ticket office
  • Installed touchless ticket scanning devices
  • Installed touchless sinks and toilets in all bathrooms
  • Provided hand sanitation stations throughout the building
  • Increased fresh air intake throughout the building
  • Increased routine cleaning and sanitation throughout the building
  • Turned off all water fountains/bubblers.
  • Reduced concessions to drinks only, to be consumed in the lobby only.

“We’ve been closed for almost 18 months, and we want to be cautious in how we bring our patrons, artists, employees, volunteers and community together again to avoid another shutdown,” said Goetz. “We’re committed to creating a safe environment, so the shows can go on.”

Overture Center’s COVID-19 reopening policies for public events are in effect when the building officially reopens on Monday, Aug. 30 and will remain in effect until further notice. Policies will be in effect for the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Farmers’ Market Organ Concert on Saturday, Aug. 28 as well.

Touchless security system installed at Overture entrances

The next time you enter Overture Center, you’ll be walking through a touchless Evolv Express security system. This crowd-screening system keeps high volume entrances flowing by reliably detecting threatening items as visitors walk through at a natural pace. It uses the same frequency range as the electronic theft prevention devices that have been widely deployed in thousands of stores with tens of thousands of people walking through them daily.

The extremely low frequency (ELF) radio waves, deemed safe by the FDA, pose extremely low risk of interference with implanted medical devices and are safe for pregnant women. Evolv can identify what is in people’s bags and pockets, and if it identifies a threat (firearms, knives, metallic weapons, explosives), it immediately notifies security staff.

“We are excited to use this technology to keep our building secure and everyone in it safe,” said Nicholas Parrish, security manager.

Please note, under current policies, everyone entering Overture Center must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of entering along with a photo ID (for details, visit overture.org/health). Please plan accordingly as this may cause delays.

Wisconsin Leadership Summit set for Oct. 18-22, stays virtual

Wisconsin Leadership Summit virtual windows

Overture Center continues to support Madison 365 and its State of Wisconsin Leadership Summit, originally scheduled to be an in-person event at Overture this year. After much deliberation, Madison 365 Media Foundation, the nonprofit organization overseeing Madison365, FoxValley365 and the Wisconsin Leadership Summit announced that the state’s premier professional development event for people of color will once again become a weeklong online event due to the ongoing pandemic.

Last year’s virtual summit was successful beyond expectations as were the Men’s and Women’s Leadership Summits this past spring,” 365 Media CEO Henry Sanders said. “Just over the past three years, this event has become something people really look forward to, and we are all eager to be together in the community. But we do have to keep our people safe and healthy. We’ve had several virtual town hall and summit events, and the response has been incredible, so I’m excited about continuing our signature event this way one more time.”

Sanders noted that the online format allows the event to be spread out over a week, so no one will have to choose between sessions. Additionally, anyone can participate without incurring travel expenses.

Dr. Kenneth Hardy presents workshop on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 9 AM - 11 AM

Dr. Ken Hardy returns to provide a workshop for Overture Staff, Board, Community Advisory Council and Resident Companies as we continue to build organizational cultural competencies to better engage across all sectors of our diverse community.

Talking About Race: Strategies for Staying in the Conversation

Dr. Hardy holding a microphone and speaking

Conversations about race are almost always a daunting task. Regardless of the setting, the demographics of the participants involved, or the purpose of the conversation, attempts to engage across the race divide are seldom progressive, meaningful, or effectively executed. Earnest efforts to have fully engaged racially centered conversations are often fraught with conflict escalation, verbal withdrawal, emotional cutoff, or diversion and distraction. The outcomes of these endeavors are often predictably unpleasant, unfulfilling and, ultimately, unsuccessful.

Dr. Hardy will review the concepts and strategies discussed with us in our first two sessions. This workshop will use a combination of didactic and experiential role play scenarios to help participants gain practice with and enhance their skills in conducting more effective racially based conversations.

Following the completion of the training, participants will be able to:

1. Use the VCR Model (the three-step model for engaging in difficult and polarizing conversations that is based on Validate, Challenge, Request) to effectively engage in conversations about race and other dimensions of culture;

2. Demonstrate use of the Tasks of the Privilege to effectively engage in conversations about race and culture; and

3. Demonstrate use of the Tasks of the Subjugated to effectively engage in conversations about race and culture.

“Decolonizing Wealth” by Edgar Villanueva

Development & Communications Department Book Club continues to build a strong educational and cultural knowledge base that informs work and organizational practices.

The following are impactful takeaways from members of the book club after reading and discussing “Decolonizing Wealth,” in which Edgar Villanueva reframes perspective on how we engage and interact with philanthropic giving:

  • In Development, we must prioritize relationships, cultivating a strong, authentic, caring human connection. We are in this together, working to support and elevate the arts in our community. From p. 149: “Our attitude was, look, there are problems out there. These problems need solutions. We have solutions. You have dollars to fund the solutions. Let’s work together.” Both sides (fundraisers and donors) need to listen to each other to see how we can best work together to create solutions.
  • Prioritizing a people-first approach seems obvious and simple, but white supremacy norms and standards listed in “Decolonizing Wealth” (individualism, fear of conflict, quantity over quality, perfectionism, etc.) are basically antithetical to a people-first approach. I am working on re-learning the standards that are rooted in white supremacy to move forward and prioritize JEDI and relationship-building in and out of the workplace.
  • “Evolution and innovation arise from difference and variation, not from sameness.” Diversity within our team, organization and community makes us stronger and better. We need to work harder at creating a more diverse team and organization, so we learn new perspectives and ideas. And it’s more than recruiting diverse humans, it’s creating a culture of respect, curiosity, acceptance and love.
  • I regularly think about the characteristics of white supremacy culture and how they show up in my actions/approaches in the workplace. I am specifically trying to increase my people-first approach and mindset when working internally and externally on projects like the donor tours, donor communications and general coordination.

We are excited about the work completed by the Development & Communications department. We hope this JEDI work and exploration continues across all departments throughout our organization, so we are more aware and better prepared to connect with an everchanging and more diverse community, both locally and across the country.

Mark your calendar for a wonderful celebration of Mexican culture

Mariachi Herencia de Mexico performing

Mariachi Herencia de México - “Esencia”

Saturday, Oct. 2, 7:30 PM, Capitol Theater

The historic tradition of mariachi music has roots in cities like Guadalajara and Mexico City, places where the festive folk style lived its past glory days in the mid-1900s. Today, the future of the evolving genre may rest in the hands of a dynamic ensemble from the capital of the American Midwest: Chicago’s Mariachi Herencia de México.

Back by popular demand! This Latin Grammy-nominated group of young Mexican American musicians has released three highly acclaimed albums with chart-topping debuts on both Billboard and iTunes, defying a music industry trend and pointing to a revival in recorded mariachi music. Performing with major artists on both sides of the border, this group of young musicians has the talent, training and bravado to hold their own with the best in the world.

Mariachi Herencia de México performs songs from the group’s latest album titled “Esencia,” a tribute to the golden age of Mexican music, including hits like “Cucurrucucu Paloma,” “Los Laureles,” “Besame Mucho,” “Te Traigo Estas Flores,” “Los Mandados” and many more! The vibrant show also features tributes to Latin music legends Juan Gabriel, Lucha Villa, Lola Beltrán, José José and José Alfredo Jiménez as well as a celebration of the iconic Mexican films “El Gallo de Oro” and “Dos Tipos De Cuidado.” Comprised of both female and male musicians, the group performs stunning arrangements that highlight the group’s powerful vocals and exquisite harmonies.

The only way to guarantee legitimate tickets is to buy them directly from Overture Center at overture.org, by phone at 608.258.4141, or in person at the Overture Center Ticket Office. Learn more about safe ticket buying.


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Overture Center for the Arts
201 State Street, Madison, WI 53703

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