Arts commissioners were clear at their meeting last May when they were considering grants funding for various organizations: Synetic Theater is a great company artistically and they would like to see it thrive.
However, issues with paperwork, a budget that looked like it was running into a deficit, and a repertoire that maybe was a tad too avant-garde for the average Arlingtonian had the commissioners worried (and a few annoyed) that the theater, born in 2002, was skating ice a little too thin.
Since then, commissioners and county staff said they met with Synetic's leaders, and some of the issues over missing paperwork were fixed, but the commission still chose to pen a letter.
In part the letter reads: "In addition the Commission recommends that Synetic consider increasing its outreach efforts to the Arlington community; such outreach is essential for future grants consideration by the Arlington Arts Commission." The commission advises the county government and produces a list every year of artists and arts organizations they feel should win grants.
Yulia Kriskovets, the theater's chief operating officer said, that, yes, the theater had sent a grant proposal that was too thin, lacking much of the detail behind the production company's outreach and ongoing programming. Kriskovets said her company basically rewrote their application to be more clear with commissioners.
The company's productions moved into new theater space in Crystal City in 2010, and the corporate offices moved nearby last year. The application focused on that transition more than on programming, outreach and other activity, Kriskovets said. That single-focus application was a mistake, she said.
"That was a lesson for us for next year," she said.
The Arts Commission also had concerns about the theater's rent and whether the company was focusing enough on the bottom line. The company has made changes this year, though Kriskovets said the changes did not come from reading the commission's letter but from their own analysis.
They are expanding their teen program, overhauling some of their educational curricula, and putting some well-known titles into their season. This is all to try to build the company's customer base and its financial reserves, she said. She added quickly that the theater's focus on movement will remain. (Synetic is an amalgamation of "Synergy" and "Kinetic.")
Last year the theater produced about seven shows on their main stage--the schedule "took a toll on the staff and resources," Kriskovets said. It also houses an educational arm. Synetic has won 21 Helen Hayes awards from nearly 80 nominations, their website says.
The county board is set to approve the grants funding for the various arts troupes, artists and venues at their meeting this Saturday. The total amount is $240,100 spread across 25 artists and organizations.
Synetic's 2012-2013 season:
- "Jekyll & Hyde": September 20 — October 21, 2012
- "A Trip to the Moon": December 6, 2012 — January 6, 2013
- "The Tempest": February 21 — March 24, 2013
- "The Three Musketeers": May 9 — June 9, 2013