Ready…Set…Give to the Max for YPT!

I grew up in the era of computers and technology. I order pizza online, take pictures with my phone and post them on Facebook, text instead of calling, and use Google as my go-to. But despite this, I sometimes still feel hopelessly behind the times, as technology, gadgets and social media continue to explode. Confession: when posting a recent update on YPT’s Twitter, I texted my Twitter-savvy younger sister asking about the difference between #something and @something. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up.

So I’m continually impressed by how businesses, non-profits and even the government have embraced this new era, finding innovative ways to use social media to their advantage and as a tool for positive action. And that’s why I am so excited about the gigantic community fundraising event happening TODAY, November 9, 2011, through the entire Greater Washington region.

Today, thousands of area residents are banding together to show their support for their favorite nonprofits during Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington. Give to the Max Day is a huge one-day online fundraising event that will unite Maryland, Virginia and DC communities to support local nonprofits through 24 hours of charitable giving. Give to the Max Day has the potential to raise $3 million for local charities, all online, within 24 hours.  That’s the power of the Internet for you.

Give to the Max Day is a truly a testament to how organizations can harness the power of social media as a force for positive change within an entire community, showing our local non-profits that even in these tough times, we are committed to supporting them. It’s all over Twitter, Facebook, websites, blogs and even DC buses. People are getting excited and organizations are harnessing this energy and building up their armies of support.

Here at YPT we are pumped up. We love social media, and we love our fans. You guys “like” our photos (even those crazy ones of the staff in our Halloween costumes), participate in YPTrivia and read about our achievements and student stories. We know we have the best online community of supporters in the region. Can we prove it to the rest of DC?

On November 9th, every online donation and donor we get through Give to the Max Day will help thousands of YPT students discover the power and value of their voices and stories through arts education. But we can only succeed with your help. Will you help YPT go to the top?

Give to the Max Day is happening RIGHT NOW. It’s going to be huge. How can YOU help?

  • Log on to YPT’s Give to the Max Giving Page NOW to make your contribution of $10 or more to YPT. Every dollar and every donor has an impact.
  • Share your support for Give to the Max and YPT on your social media pages and follow YPT on Facebook and Twitter for updates during the event. Be our champion, recruit your friends and cheer us to the top!
  • Then, sit back and celebrate with us, and know that you played a crucial role in helping us invest in the next generation of great American innovators — and prepare our amazing students for success.

And don’t forget to come to our Express Tour Showcase on MONDAY to see your contribution in action! All GTM donors will receive a special thanks in the program, and you’ll enjoy three hilarious and insightful students plays, along with the requisite yummy treats. November 14, 7:30pm, GALA Hispanic Theatre, FREE.

Okay, YPT friends. In the words of Supergirl, “It’s go time!”  Ready, set, GIVE!

Alison
Development and Producing Associate

From Tetris to Twitter: David on New Communication in Cyberspace

If you’re like me, quickly approaching 40 and remembering the days in college when you’d play Tetris on the little black and white screen of your Macintosh computer and “email” involved typing a whole lot of backslashes, you may be daunted by the recent onslaught of social media tools swirling through cyberspace.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Facebook and how it’s allowed us to reconnect with YPT alumni from years past.  And I’m starting to understand Twitter – though really, why do we need to know that much about that many people? And managing them all at once can get overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve started to use HootSuite at YPT to streamline these tools. But even though I’ve received a full tutorial from someone under 30, I’m having trouble using it. Maybe I don’t have the time to focus on it? Or maybe I’m just resisting one more app on my overloaded Blackberry? But maybe I’m also longing for the days when the best ways to share your latest news included 1) picking up the phone and saying it, 2) writing a note and passing it or 3) pulling somebody aside and sharing it – face to face.  And I’m wondering, as we quickly declare our thoughts to the world on everything under the sun, from coffee to candidates, how much time do we now spend pondering those thoughts, forming those opinions or considering those words?

At YPT we try to give students the time and space to think, consider, and then speak, through their characters. Later this year we’ll be launching YPText, a new initiative focused on communicating and collaborating with students and the community via text messaging.  As we explore this new type of writing, I hope we can help students find new ways to still take the time and space to think, so that they can experience those crucial moments of self-discovery, when we form our own opinions of things, our view of the world, and our view of ourselves. 

As we’re running with HootSuite, Twitter, and Facebook to give you a window into the work, please let us know what you think – and how you think we’re doing. See you in cyberspace and, hopefully, in real space, soon.

David
Producing Artistic Director and CEO

YPT Kicks Off Our Fifteenth Birthday Season

After working at Young Playwrights’ Theater for about two weeks, I attended the New Writer’s Now! Kick-Off Party last Tuesday evening – my first YPT event! As the new Development Assistant, I’ve jumped right into updating contacts in the database, putting together mailings and trying to learn the names of everyone and everything, from staff, to board members, to important programs. So it was a nice change of pace to attend the New Writers Now! Kick-Off and see a first-hand example of one of these projects, and even match a few faces to the names I’ve seen in our giant database.

The party was small and intimate, with everyone sitting around tables in the YPT studio space chatting and, in my case, meeting new people. The variety of attendees really represented all different parts of the YPT family. I met students, friends and family of students, local actors, staff and even board members and supporters. As we sat around snacking on treats (including our artistically arranged cracker and cheese plates) I was able to talk to some of the students that YPT works with, and I had a great conversation about social media and DC-area theater with a board member and a long-time supporter of YPT. At larger organizations, funders and board members can often seem inaccessible and intimidating to a new staff member, so it was great how friendly and approachable everyone at the Kick-Off Party was, and how enthusiastic they were about the new season. The event also included teaser scenes from a few upcoming YPT student works, and as someone who has never seen a YPT reading before, I was very impressed by the quality of the work. It’s events like these that help us get through the occasional long day of data entry or stuffing envelopes, and I’m eager to see the full plays in the coming months!

Overall, I think the New Writers Now! Kick-Off Party summed up my impression of YPT so far: a small company with a family-like feel, yet made up of a wide variety of people drawn together by their enthusiasm for the arts and their support for the unique work that YPT does. I’m amazed by the impressive number of students that we reach (especially considering our small core staff) and I’m beyond thrilled to have joined the YPT team. I’m looking forward to meeting more people and seeing some great new theater in the upcoming season!

Click here to see photos from the New Writers Now! Kick-Off Party.

Alison
Development Assistant

The Need for Arts Education

by David Andrew Snider

Recently I talked with a board member from Theatre Communications Group (TCG), of which YPT is a member.   The TCG board was reaching out to all its members to find out what’s happening in our organizations and how TCG can better support us.  At the end of the conversation came the big question:  “Besides fundraising,” (which is assumed right now) “what’s your biggest challenge today?”  “Ensuring our relevance,” I said immediately.  “What do you mean?”

It’s a critical time for arts education and for live theatre in general.   While so many people spend more and more of their time in the virtual world, our work can be more important than ever.  To keep us connected, to keep us talking, to keep us alive to one another.  When push comes to shove and we’re talking about cuts to school budgets for books, to shelter, food and clothing providers, so many people today, even in nonprofits, will say “well, it’s not like the arts are a human service.”  To which I say, and said to the DC City Council last summer “The arts are a human service.  They are a human service.”  As much as we need to eat, sleep and clothe ourselves to be human, we need to express ourselves.  We need to be able to share with our neighbors and the rest of the world what’s bothering us, how others can help us and what we fear or dream of for our future.  When we cut off self-expression, when we deny the inherent need to communicate and be heard, we see the frustration and violence that results.  We see the school shootings, the fights in the hallway, the teen suicide.  We see how social media has again sparked in all of us the itch to be known, to see and be seen, to always be in touch.  So as we’re ensuring that critical needs are met in these challenging times, I think we need to consider not only what will get us through the night, through the next month or next couple of years, but also what we want to be, look like and represent when we get through it.  What kind of society do we want to have?  How do we know what people need if they can’t tell us?  And how can we envision our future if we’re not able to dream?