Thursday, October 30, 2014

Become the Solution ----- Attend TheatreFest 2015

What a strange title for an article written by the Treasurer of TETA! But I have been an acting coach, a theatre director/teacher and an actress far longer than I have been a treasurer, so the language of acting comes to me much quicker than the language of finance. Borrowing from William Ball, A SENSE OF DIRECTION, “Some Observations on the Art of Directing”, I frequently said to my students “always want to DO, never want to BE” when searching for the action verbs to help them explore a character’s wants and needs, and the reasons why the character says and does what she says and does. So, when contemplating what the subject of this article could be, and when considering the roller coaster that the acquisition and reconstruction of TETA books and records has been on since January, 2014, I began to think that what I need/want (good verbs) to tell you is that TETA is currently in the black, but we need YOU to become the solution by attending TheatreFest15 and participating in workshops, and discussion groups that will shape the direction TETA will follow in the future. And since most forms of “to be” are not verbs that lead to action, I added the action verb ATTEND! Please….we need YOU; we want YOU!

You can become the Solution by wanting to contribute your voice, your ideas, your skills and talents to Texas Educational Theatre Association, Inc. during the one time a year that we all gather together as K-College/University theatre educators to share, to network, and to fine tune knowledge and skills we can take back to our campuses and share with our students.

If you read Luis Munoz’s recent article, you will understand that TETA has played a significant role in the development and inclusion of Theatre Arts as a Fine Art and viable course of study in Texas schools. As the demand for an excellent education in theatre arts grew, so did the demand for excellent theatre educators. Just look at the many high schools, colleges and universities in this great state where the student of theatre can further develop the skills and talents needed to succeed in educational or professional theatre! TETA has helped nurture these programs; TETA provides a place where our members can learn from the best by attending the countless workshops taught by some of the best Master Teachers and Actors and Directors and Designers and Technicians in our country! And by the way, many of these Master Teachers are Texas born and raised and came out of the very programs I’ve been talking about.

If you read Marion Castleberry’s article “Rising Like a Phoenix”, I hope you were as inspired by his words as I was. Dr. Castleberry spoke so eloquently about where TETA has been in the last year, and where we are headed…..how we are indeed rising from the ashes to embrace a new day with excitement, energy and hope. He also explained some of the struggles we’ve been experiencing as we’ve tried to recreate the year 2013 financially without books or records.

And, I can tell you, it has been a struggle to get a handle on TETA finances because of the lack of complete books and records. But, enough has been reconstructed to file our 2013 Form 990; enough has been reconstructed to allow me to create a Chart of Accounts, with the help of a CPA who is guiding me in the process. Enough has been reconstructed so that the Board of Directors feels confident that TETA will be financially viable going forward, even though the actions of the former Treasurer have hurt the organization financially.

Hey, another reason to attend TF 15 is you will get a detailed financial report….but it will not be accompanied by music , or a light show. Just want to prepare you for the dull but cold, hard facts of TETA’s finances…..they will be presented to you at convention. But you WILL see what your money pays for! And btw, it pays for scholarships to your deserving students, and for you to further your theatre education, if you would just apply for the scholarship! It pays for the workshop spaces (not free), for the fabulous speakers and artists that Missey Head and her dedicated and hardworking committee are lining up for TF15. They will tell you more about speakers and artists in an article coming soon to your inbox. It also pays for more food and drink (non alcoholic of course) at convention for various receptions and events. And so much more….tune in at convention for details. And Jerry Ivins and his associates must be recognized for the countless man/woman hours they’ve spent negotiating, debating, arranging and finalizing all the organizational details with the Hyatt that must be ironed out so YOU will have an incredible experience at TF 15.

And now for a little housekeeping: TETA is still getting mail that has been forwarded from the former Austin address, so some of you have not told your school district accounting office that we have a new address! So, when you think we will receive your check by a certain deadline that is not happening if it first goes to Austin! YOU can fix that too, by putting the new address on everything you submit to your ISD for payment to TETA. TETA, INC. 650 W. Bough Ln., Suite 150-199, Houston, TX 77024. If your office needs a copy of the new W-9, it can be found on our website in the TETA File Cabinet.

More housekeeping: when you send a personal check, please include your TDL #, a phone number and your address. It very clearly requests this on the membership and registration forms. We do not want to start sending them back for incomplete information.

I hope you are pleased with how easy it is to pay dues and register online, and to download and print the forms you need. Thank you Darve!

In conclusion, as Dr Castleberry said, as Luis said, as Poe has said, as Scott Allen has said, as EVERYONE is saying, TETA needs you! Please stand up for and with TETA and become the Solution by attending TheatreFest15, and encourage others to join you. Help shape the future of this organization that has contributed so much to theatre educators and education in Texas. We must work Together Toward Tomorrow!

I can’t wait to see you in Houston at TheatreFest15!

With much anticipation,

Rachel Mattox, your Treasurer

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rising Like a Phoenix!


Last week, TETA Secretary, Scott Allen, posted an article about transparency. If you haven’t read it, please do so! I think you will find it informative and inspiring. Scott wrote about the importance of cultivating an atmosphere of transparency within TETA and the need to face reality, to address our problems, and embrace our challenges. With the help of many people, all of whom deserve a large thank you, true transparency has been initiated over the past year. That transparency has led to important discoveries but has also revealed some painful and hard to face facts. Like alcohol poured on an open wound, those facts, revealed by true transparency sting, leaving us with feelings of confusion, guilt, and humiliation. However, honesty and openness bring about true healing. It has always been my philosophy that adversity vanishes when faced boldly. With this in mind, I offer these thoughts on the indictment of Gene Dickey, former Treasurer of TETA.

As many of you may know, on June 20, 2014, Gene Dickey, was indicted by a Travis County Grand Jury for the unlawful misappropriation of TETA funds in excess of $200,000, a first degree felony. The criminal case is now pending in a Travis County Criminal District Court. In late September, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office filed a notice in the case outlining certain factual allegations against Mr. Dickey based on evidence obtained through its subpoena powers. The allegations outlined a systematic scheme to deceive TETA involving fraudulent financial statements, other falsified documents including false independent audit reports, and other misrepresentations and fraudulent acts used to cover up a continuing misappropriation of TETA funds each year over a nine year period that totaled in excess of $1.6 million dollars. The criminal case is currently set for trial in November although the case may be reset to a later date.

After recently reading the list of allegations filed by the Travis County District Attorney against Gene Dickey, I was taken aback by the audacity and the scope of the fraud by which the man apparently planned and carried out his scheme. My anger and frustration grew and I felt tears welling up in my eyes. But at the very moment I was at my lowest, the phrase “Phoenix rising from the ashes” popped into my head. Initially, I didn’t know why at that particular moment I would think such a thing but after doing a bit of research I understood. As the story goes, the phoenix is a mythical bird with fiery plumage that lives up to 1000 years. Near the end of its life, it settles in to its nest of twigs which then burns ferociously, reducing bird and nest to ashes. And from these ashes, a fledgling phoenix rises—renewed and reborn. After reading the story of the phoenix, it suddenly dawned on me that TETA had experienced a similar journey in 2013, especially the part about burning ferociously. The organization had been defrauded by a duplicitous individual who had served the organization for many years in a trusted capacity, leaving the organization seriously burned but not destroyed. Today, after the horrific storm has blown over, the sun shines brightly, sanity has returned, our Tartuffe has been unmasked, and TETA is moving forward, reborn and renewed.

One question you may ask is: what is the Board of Directors doing to recover TETA’s losses? The answer is, in fact, that we have done and are doing all that we can. TETA brought a civil suit against Gene Dickey that resulted in a bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy filing stayed the civil proceedings. At a creditor meeting in the bankruptcy case, Mr. Dickey stated that he had destroyed all the financial records of TETA that he had in his possession and that appears to be in fact the case. TETA has had to reconstruct its financial books and records which has been a very difficult process. We will eventually seek to obtain a judgment in our civil suit but unfortunately, as it stands Gene Dickey has no assets against which a judgment could be satisfied. Any decision to order restitution in the criminal proceedings is at the discretion of the Travis County DA. TETA’s Board of Directors has no control over the criminal case. However, as noted by the Travis County DA and our own legal counsel, it does not appear that there are any assets from which restitution could be paid. We have abated the civil suit as the criminal proceedings progress but it is still pending. While I cannot be sure if we will ever recover anything that we have lost, I can say that the Board of Directors is determined to do everything in its power to restore transparency and honor to TETA.

Reflecting on the past few months, I am filled with a surprising sense of peace and excitement about the future. We can now look forward with fresh eyes. The fog has lifted and the dark clouds have moved on. TETA has left this troubling experience behind, and the Board of Directors has taken steps to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again. We have revised the Bylaws to ensure transparency and thanks to the diligent leadership of Rachel Mattox the Board has adopted a projected yearly budget (a document that did not exist under Gene Dickey’s leadership). The organization has retained an independent outside accountant. The board intends for that person to provide reports in person to the Board of Directors and not just to one individual. We continue to be financially solvent and we look forward to the most memorable convention we have ever had. TETA is “a phoenix rising from the ashes,” alive and well and excited about the future. With the promise of a bright tomorrow ahead, now is the time for everyone who cares about the future of theatre education in Texas to band together and support our attempt to restore a culture of dignity and transparency to the organization. Now is the time for us to unite as a single, powerful team, dedicated to what is most important to us all: the training and education of our teachers and students. As Scott Allen wrote, we want to become “the greatest theatre organization in the world.” I urge you to find a way to contribute to TETA and join us at TheatreFest 2015. We cannot reach our goals and dreams without YOU. In closing, I leave you with a quote from Henry David Thoreau who reminds us that “All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune.”

Dr. Marion Castleberry
President of TETA

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Text Notifications

TETA now uses Remind to send text notifications.
If you are interested in joining our notification list follow the directions below.


WHAT IS REMIND AND WHY IS IT SAFE?
Remind is a one-way text messaging and email system. With Remind, all personal information remains completely confidential. TETA will never see your phone number, nor will you ever see theirs.  Visit remind.com to learn more.

What’s BEST about THEATREFEST?

I was sitting in rehearsal with my choir director last week and we were talking about the scene 13 in our production of Guys and Dolls Jr., “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” She asked me if I was going to have parent volunteers make the six sturdy benches we need for the scene. I said, “No, I’m picking them up from FWAFA this weekend.”
“How do you know the theatre people from FWAFA?”
“TETA. Don’t you know the music or choir people there?”
“No. I have no idea. You know a lot of theatre people, don’t you, because of TETA?”
“Yes, all across the state. I can count on my Texas theatre family for anything!”

What do I think is one of the best parts about attending our convention? As TETA President-Elect, Travis Poe, said in his most recent article, it’s about YOU! Because of convention, I have the privilege of meeting people- teachers, administrators and business vendors from all over Texas who care just as much as I do about Texas theatre. The whole idea of joining TETA is to join together and attend or participate in fantastic workshops aimed at honing our craft, network amongst other educators for professional and personal support, and share innovative ideas that will encourage us to continue in our common goal of producing quality theatre experiences for Texas K-16 students.
As Chair of the K-12 Committee, I was allowed to look at some of the workshop proposals for TheatreFest 2015. There are so many new and exciting workshops! Here are a few that I’m looking forward to:

Laban: Middle School Students Define Characterization
Staying Legal: Ins and Outs of Royalties and Performance Rights
Reaching For New Heights through the Fine Arts TEKS for 6-12
No More Binders or Textbooks: It’s all About Interactive Notebooks
K-12 Reception (snacks, exhibitor demonstrations, fashion shows, door prizes and more!)
AND especially the TETA Awards Banquet!

Here’s a special challenge for you: Invite a colleague who’s never been to convention! Invite your Fine Arts Director or Coordinator and tell them to join TTAC! Their life and professional career as a teacher or administrator will forever be changed for the better!

We are very excited to announce our dates, location and theme for SummerFest 2015 at convention. Thank you so much for attending SummerFest 2014 in Abilene. Ah…we will always remember it fondly. Our K-12 Committee is stronger than ever and truly committed to YOU and to this organization. We have several qualified individuals who have been nominated for the following positions which are up for re-election: K-12 Chair-Elect, High School at-Large, Middle School at-Large, and Elementary Interest Chair. Depending on the levels you teach, please attend either the High School Interest Meeting (grades 9-12), Middle School Interest Meeting (grades 7-8), or Elementary Interest Meeting (grades K-6). DON’T forget to also attend the K-12 Interest Meeting where two lucky attendees will receive a SummerFest 2015 Registration Waiver!
Wait…there’s MORE?!? What’s that you say? There are MORE Give-aways? YES!!!
Details please…

Two lucky TETA members will have a chance to win three FREE nights at the Hyatt just by registering for convention by November 1st? AWESOME!!!

In closing, I must express my gratitude for the current TETA Board of Directors. I continue to be in awe of their passion for Texas theatre, selfless positive attitude, professionalism and integrity. It’s been a road with many twists and turns the past two years, but together with a like-minded spirit focused on making TETA transparent and sensational again, so much has been accomplished. The newly revised Manual of Operations and an approved budget to say the least! It has truly been an honor to serve TETA in my position as VP and Chair of the K-12 Committee.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”- Henry Ford

Please join us for TETA TheatreFest 2015: Together Toward Tomorrow!

In service of this great organization,
Sara A. Schochler
TETA Board of Directors
K-12 Chair

Auditions

Dear HS Theatre Directors,

Just a friendly reminder as you are busy into classes and productions this fall:

TETA TheatreFest is scheduled for January 29 - February 1, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency, Houston, Texas .

So, believe it or not, TETA Auditions Submissions are just around the corner! The preferred deadline is November 15, 2014, and the absolute deadline is December 1, 2014.

We will be utilizing getacceptd.com again this year, an online registration for auditions. However, convention registrations will remain separate and need to be mailed to the new Houston address.

All updated audition information can be found on the TETA website, or at getacceptd.com/teta .

The biggest change this year is that High School Juniors from all high schools, not just IM schools, are eligible to audition. Each school may submit one (1) Junior Acting student and one (1) Junior Tech/Design student. Juniors are not eligible to audition for Founder’s Scholarships, however. What a great way for your juniors who know that they want to major in theatre to get ahead of the game and get out in front of recruiters!

After reading the audition information found on the TETA website, please have your students do the following:

1) Take the SAT or ACT ASAP so that their scores are ready before the deadline.

2) Start selecting their material now; they will have to submit titles on the audition form!

3) Read the articles in previous and upcoming Texas Theatre Notes about auditioning; there is a ton of great advice for them!!!

4) Select the correct form from the website for the area they are auditioning and fill it out COMPLETELY and ACCURATELY. Without fail each year a student completes the wrong form. A Senior filling out a Junior form, or an Acting/Singing audition filling out the Acting form (and then no accompanist is available!) Please double check the title of the form. If you have a question, please contact me.

5) Forms will be submitted online through getacceptd.com/teta materials must be uploaded for the students application to be complete. Applications cannot be submitted to TETA unless the application is complete.

6) All payments for auditions must be submitted by credit card through getcceptd.com. No cash or checks are accepted. Checks can continue to be sent for convention registration, however.

7) A clean, focused picture is best for uploading.

8) Counselors and Sponsors will receive follow up emails from getacceptd.com. Please encourage students to notify you and their counselor when they have submitted their portion of the form in order that the counselor and sponsor can watch for their email. Please check your junk mail folder just in case the email has been misdirected.

I would encourage you to sit down with your students to complete the online registration so that you are both familiar with the process.

As always, the other volunteers and I are here to help make this a pleasant and successful experience for all. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Dusty Davidson, Auditions Coordinator