Sarah Owen is the Donor Relations & Events Manager at Gulfshore Playhouse.
Q: Were you interested in theatre prior to working at Gulfshore Playhouse?
Well although I have never worked in the theatre, I have always loved theatre and the arts in general. Growing up we moved quite a bit, and my mother made sure to get out and explore what each new place had to offer and that always included the arts scene. She took us to many plays and exposed us to all forms of art. I started in dance at the age of 2 and at the ripe old age of 3, I had my first performance singing at church, I performed in my first play at 5 years old along with my sisters and my Father. In school I was in TV Production, Drama Club and Ensemble. When I graduated high school I started college with the intention of getting a communications degree with aspirations of being a news anchor, but I took a Psychology class my Freshman year and fell in love, realizing that what I truly wanted to do with my life was help others.
Q: Why did you decide to transition to a career in professional theatre?
Almost 10 years ago I started my career in fundraising at JDRF, realizing that I could meld my desire to help people with my other love of event planning. It’s very important to me to be passionate about the organization that I am involved with and when I found out through a colleague of mine that the position was available at Gulfshore Playhouse, I was so excited at the thought that I could combine my career in fundraising with what I enjoy in my free time: theatre.
Q: What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the theatre industry that maybe you weren’t expecting?
I was completely unaware how much goes into picking a season of shows, things like getting the rights and thinking about the audience in your area as well as the time of year you choose to show a particular production.
The thing that has fascinated me the most is all of the behind the scenes aspects, sitting in on first reads and especially tech rehearsal has been so amazing. Whenever I get the chance to work from the theatre during tech I jump at it.
Q: At Gulfshore Playhouse, you are the Annual Giving and Events Manager. Can you tell us what your role is?
Overall my role focuses on fundraising as ticket sales alone can not generate enough revenue for us to put on the wonderful productions our patrons have come to expect. Because of that, it is important that we hold fundraising events and we are extremely fortunate to have wonderful donors who support us by giving to our annual fund who I get to know well and work with in a myriad of ways.
Q: What does a typical day in your job look like?
The great thing about my position is that no day is the same; it can consist of anything from working with the florist on centerpieces for the Gala to showing a donor around the production shop, to creating budgets and spreadsheets to sending out Thank you and Tax Letters, there is never a dull moment. One of my favorite “tasks” this past year was working with the winners of the Walk-On Roles at the Gala. We had so much fun doing costume fittings at the shop, attending tech rehearsals and nervously waiting backstage for their big debut!
Q: What is your proudest achievement from working at Gulfshore Playhouse so far?
The Gala! My absolute favorite type of event to plan is a Gala. I came on in October last year, which was well into the planning phase of the event and was thrilled to hear that the team had come up with the amazing theme of Roaring into the 20’s, replete with a Speakeasy! I had the best time bringing the vision to life with this amazing team, and was overwhelmed at the generosity of the attendees.