For the first time, I attended an official committee meeting for the Asolo Balcony Club last week. I’ve said before, I’ve had trouble getting involved in nonprofit volunteering—Sarasota’s official pastime. Not for a lack of passion, mind you, but a lack of ability. I’m neither an energetic networker nor a pit bull of a fund raiser, so I seldom think I’d be of much use, especially in the face of all the people in this town who seem to be natural born fund raisers and party planners—and so many of them now younger than I am. I mean, jeez, kids these days, with their galas and their nonprofit boards and their sponsorship packages.


I suppose the Asolo is actually another obstacle to my volunteering. On the one hand, with their 40-plus-year careers, my parents established a pretty solid base of authority in that institution—hard for me to measure up to their clout, to be sure, plus it’s always difficult to feel integral among your parents’ peers. On the other hand, now that they’ve removed themselves, I figured I’d lost my only legitimate tie to Asolo Rep—no longer the child of employees, now I’m just…some chick.


(That’s hard for me, too, by the way: “Asolo Rep.” I want to support the branding and all, but all my life it’s been “the Asolo”—20 times a day or more. It’s like suddenly having to call it “Sarasotatown.” It…doesn’t come naturally.)


But, as she’s done before, Mrs. Harrible gently twisted my arm and appealed to my ego, and I figured, what the heck, a Wednesday afternoon at the Asolo beats sitting at my desk, anyways, and at least I’m fulfilling the bare minimum of my professional obligation to get out and about in the community.


Turns out, I had a pretty good time. (I may have even been useful, too.)


It’s really interesting to get in on the ground floor of a group like this. There is no protocol; there are no established processes; everything is a possibility. Events? Membership fees? Membership benefits? It’s actually fun to play around with what you want to accomplish vs. what you’ve got to offer. It’s strangely, scientifically satisfying.


Basically, the point of the Asolo Balcony Club is to encourage and convene a new generation of arts supporters. So it involves looking at things very honestly and asking what, exactly, do I want out of a theatrical experience? How do I share the things I most enjoy about the Asolo? What would get me off my duff and into the theater? How much am I willing to pay? (This last one is particularly difficult for me, since I’ve had to pay a grand total of $0 for the 80-odd Asolo productions I’ve seen.)


And the answers, and the plans that sprang from them, were encouraging. Ticket deals, regular low-key wine-and-cheesers (I just made up that phrase, by the way, and I’m keeping it) and a big signature party—plus considerations for all the educational and special opportunities Asolo Rep already offers. How much will we have to market it, and will it catch people’s attention? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. But I’m interested in the ABC stuff, so that’s a promising start.


‘Course, with all those questions, what it really boils down to for me is, basically, “How do we get people to come to our party?” That’s appropriate enough, since CCB and I are in the midst of Kegtacular planning and oft ask ourselves the very same question. And, just like at the theater, the answer is often “drama and alcohol.” Hey, perhaps I am qualified for this.