Company of Fools to Merge With Sun Valley Center for the Arts

Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Company of Fools (COF) have finalized an agreement to become one organization, ensuring the presence of professional theatre and increasing the opportunities for outstanding arts events in the Wood River Valley.

After many months of discussions, a formal due diligence process and the development of an integration plan, these two pillars of the arts in the Wood River Valley have made it official. Company of Fools will move under the umbrella of The Center, becoming the theater arts arm of the organization. COF will maintain its name and identity as a prominent Center program and continue to base its operations out of the Liberty Theater in Hailey.

Core Company Artists John Glenn and Denise Simone will continue to provide artistic leadership for COF, managing all Theater Productions, performances and education programs. As part of The Center, they will bring their considerable creative and professional talents to the development of The Center's thematic programs, allowing for theater to enhance how The Center explores topics of interest through visual arts, music, dance and humanities offerings.

"We are thrilled to add this 'fourth leg' to The Center's programming - complementing our strong visual arts, music and humanities offerings," said Kristin Poole, Artistic Director and Co-Executive Director of The Center. "This allows us to explore big ideas and themes in greater depth with theater."

John Glenn, COF Core Company Artist, shared, "Company of Fools has been on a journey of engagement with our community for the past 17 years, striving to present programming and classes that are distinctive, relevant and exciting. Becoming part of The Center enables us to expand that journey." Denise Simone, COF Core Company Artist, added, "This merger allows us to deepen our conversation with our community. When joining together creates a richer connection with those we serve, it's the right path to be on."

Judy Smooke, Sun Valley Center for the Arts board member commented, "I have had the pleasure of serving on both the board of The Center and Company of Fools over the years. I am proud to now be on the board of this newly merged organization and excited for our community to experience the work to come."

The Center and Company of Fools are committed to diversifying and enhancing their service to the community. Such growth was not feasible for Company of Fools under its previous structure. A goal of the merger is to consolidate administrative, marketing and fundraising functions, improve operational efficiencies and better focus human and financial resources toward programming. Both organizations have a longstanding relationship with the Blaine County School District, and through the merger will continue to provide exceptional programs in schools across the Wood River Valley.

Governance of The Combined organization will rest with a single Board of Directors, consisting of members selected from both organizations' existing Boards, and will operate under the bylaws of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, as recently amended to account for the merger.

Sally Boettger and Kristin Poole, who have served as Co-Executive Directors at The Center since March 2011, will continue in leadership roles, but with more distinct responsibilities. Ms. Boettger will be the Executive Director with primary responsibility for business planning, governance, institutional advancement, finance, human resources and administration. Ms. Poole will be the Artistic Director with primary responsibility for artistic and strategic vision, program planning and driving efforts to attract the right resources accomplish that vision. These new jobs are peer positions that work closely with and report to the Board of Directors. This organizational model is common among arts organizations nationally.

"We are committed to making changes when we know they are smart, will lead to efficiencies and offer new and better outcomes for the community" said Sally Boettger. "Many possibilities excite us, like expanding COF's Guardian Fools donor program to Center donors and expanding our member benefits to include theater programming. But anything we do needs to be thought through and sensitive to all stakeholders."

While much is evolving internally, patrons, donors and the community at large will not experience any immediate change as a result of the merger. COF will realize their full 17th season through March 2013 and the artistic leadership of both organizations has begun to plan future programs. While Company of Fools will continue to produce inspiring main stage productions, there will be additional programs offered that coincide with the Center's multidisciplinary ideas. Poole remarks, "We have lots of ideas brewing. It is exciting to imagine the many known and unknown program possibilities that will result from The Combined energies of these two staffs and their shared desire to deliver provocative programs to this community. We can't imagine a more exciting future!"




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