For the last month I have been at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut, attending the National Puppetry Conference and working for the Center during the National Playwrights' and Music Theater Conferences. From here I've been communicating with volunteer coordinator Kathryn Rogers as she makes the arrangements for some physical improvements to the main Coop storage space and future office. By the end of the month we should have insulation (reducing the temperature at least enough that we can store paint without cooking it) and electricity for all those useful things like lights, for seeing.
Power will also be useful for our most recent acquisition, a photocopier, which constitutes the beginning of our office equipment collection. Eventually, the copier, a fax, scanner and printer will be available to Coop members to help with aspects of production other than scenic needs. In addition the Coop office can be used as a business mailing address for itinerant companies, so they can have the appearance of professionalism.
After I get back to Austin, we will be setting up "virtual accounts" for the members of our pilot program, assigning each a differing Membership level representing a corresponding financial investment in the Coop. During the season we have identified a September 2010 to February 2011, we will track the participating companies' usage of Coop resources to establish the point at which Coop usage begins to pay off for members, using the cost analysis/pricing guide that Brad Carlin (Salvage Vanguard) and I developed last month. This will enable us to present clearly the benefits of Membership to the community (theater and others), and to the City of Austin and other granting institutions in the course of pursuing further financial and material support. The information will be available on the Coop website as a case study that can be used by others interested in establishing similar cooperative projects.
--Connor Hopkins, Austin Scenic Coop, Coordinator & Trouble Puppet Theater Company, Artistic Director