by Remy Bumppo Executive Director Kristin Larsen
June is a significant month for Remy Bumppo. It is the end of our fiscal year and this year, the conclusion of our 13th season. June is usually an opportunity for all of us at Remy Bumppo to collect ourselves after a busy season of producing plays. We look forward to this time to reflect and plan for the upcoming season. However, this June is different. You know this upcoming season will be James Bohnen’s last as Remy Bumppo’s Artistic Director. As we all wonder what it might be like to no longer have his daily presence in the office come July 2011, he and I wonder what it will be like to no longer have our long time partner Stephanie Kulke, Remy Bumppo’s Director of Marketing and Communications, at our side over this next year.
On July 2 Stephanie leaves Remy Bumppo after eight years on staff, and five years prior to that as our Media Relations Director when she was at Carol Fox & Associates. Stephanie is starting Kick Start Marketing Chicago, her own marketing and media relations firm.
The accomplishments of Remy Bumppo over these past 13 years are attributable to the amazing artistic leadership of James, played out by our Artistic Associates, but only known to you and the other 14,000 people who in any given year visit Remy Bumppo because of the marketing and press relations that Stephanie has ably conceived and directed in her tenure with the company.
I remember well our first month together in August 2002. There were two desks and a fax machine in the office. Neither one of us had ever led a subscription campaign, much less ever assumed roles anything near what we were required as the first full-time staff of Remy Bumppo. Marcie McVay, the former Managing Director of Victory Gardens Theater and her staff were instrumental in mentoring our abilities in all things box office. And with their help Stephanie welcomed our first subscribers- 150 in 2002/03, which grew to 300, then 550, then 750 and now there are 1400 of you (-and we have 11 work stations and a copier)!
To review our past season brochures reminds me how much we have learned over the years, as a company and as individuals. Stephanie was the perfect partner for Remy Bumppo - the start up. She brought her five years of marketing Remy Bumppo while at Carol Fox & Associates- and hit the ground running. With Stephanie’s deep respect for James and the artists, she constantly reminded us of what we did best- and helped us find people who would appreciate the work of the company. She lent her extraordinary media relationships, expanding our horizons and own belief of what we might accomplish in this vibrant cultural community by suggesting arts partners such as the Humanities Festival, the Newberry Library, Chicago Public Radio, and MCA Stage. And Stephanie, in her steadfast way, is responsible for the continuity you see and hear in each of our published pieces from the season brochure, production postcards, video, website, monthly Newsletter and weekly e-blasts. Her voice has become our voice, and we will miss her contribution to the daily cacophony of our shared workspace.
AND I am pleased that our association with Stephanie will continue, in support of her private enterprise, by engaging her and Kick Start Marketing Chicago. Stephanie will partner with our incoming Director of Marketing & Audience Development, Chelsea Keenan (see separate article) and manage each production’s public and press relations.
My relationship with Stephanie has been the richest and deepest of any professional relationship. As I begin my 8th year as Remy Bumppo’s Executive Director, what I find most surprising is not that people come and then go, but how much I still miss them, though they may have departed years ago. You might think I am referring to staff members or actors, but I am also thinking of subscribers and long time supporters. I would have thought the longer I am here myself, the easier it would become. But I see now, that Stephanie’s departure awakens within me the awareness that each relationship begun as a result of my association with Remy Bumppo, is deeply rich and intimate.
This is the legacy of Remy Bumppo… that our commitment to artistic excellence, thoughtful community discourse, and engagement of the highest quality of talent (on and off the stage) has thrilled your ear and STIRRED YOUR HEART.
Godspeed Stephanie. You have stirred our hearts.