Moonshot is a unique and innovative research project that will explore how nonprofit theatre companies make the highly speculative forecasts and decisions that determine their repertoire and season plans. These foundational decisions live at the intersection of the art and the business of theatre, and they have highly consequential implications for both artistic trajectory and organizational sustainability. These high risk decisions have not been the subject of research before, they are not on the curriculum in theatre schools, and they must be made with little or no conventional “data” about the potential of options under consideration to succeed as art or to appeal to audiences.
The heart of Moonshot will be eight case studies of Chicago theatres over eighteen months to two years. Through the generous support of the Arts Work Fund Idea Lab program, a Moonshot pilot has launched case studies of Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, a distinguished women’s company that is twenty-five years old, and The New Colony, an award-winning 10-year-old company devoted entirely to new work developed through “The TNC Process”. Rivendell is acting as fiscal agent. Case studies will be supplemented with emerging research on complex decision making and forecasting. Though none of that research has focused on the arts, the research team will work with theatre leaders from
each case study to determine what principles teased out in that research may be valuable in the theatre context.