This week Peggy O’Neill, the Executive Director from our auction partner WISE, will receive a check from our club for her organization and we will hear a wrap up on the auction from Nan and Rob. This should be a great way to get in the Holiday spirit!   
First and foremost… thanks to Dave Allen who provided me with a very comprehensive set of notes in my absence! I will be out of town this week as well and I appreciate his coverage as note taker in my absence. 
Last week’s guests included our exchange student from Chile who we hope to hear from in the New Year.  
Chip Brownwas not only recognized for his birthday… but he won the raffle! And what was his prize? A free cookie! A pale shadow of a prize compared to having our club sing Happy Birthday! 
Eric Bunge, former Managing Director, frequent actor, and current Special Projects Manager for Northern Stage in White River Junction updated the club on Northern Stage’s continued growth. He shared his vision to have White River Junction become a destination like Lanesboro, Minnesota or Ashland, Oregon. Eric told us of his experience as an Executive Director of a stage company in Lanesboro, MN, a town of fewer than 800 people two hours south of Minneapolis/St. Paul where Eric used to live. Lanesboro attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year from as far away as Chicago, Des Moines and Milwaukee to its bed and breakfasts with its theater programs. He saw Lanesboro emerge as a cultural destination like Ashland OR, the home of the largest regional theater in the country and an annual the Shakespeare Festival, which has an annual operating budget of $29 million. 
Eric noted that housing is a limiting factor for growth of Northern Stage, because roughly $475,000 of Northern Stage's approximately $4 million operating budget is earmarked staff accommodations. Northern Stage currently houses roughly fifty people in 22 apartments. To address this shortage, Northern Stage leased and recently purchased the Twin States Typewriter Building in WRJ which has five apartments. Also, they have a fleet of fifteen vehicles to transport staff from their housing to the theater.
Eric emphasized that Northern State is a de facto “manufacturer” that employs and whose employees are mostly young and whose patrons and staff who support local businesses in White River Junction. They are an economic development engine for growth in the village. 
Eric noted that when the new Northern Stage theater opened in the fall of 2015, 35,000 patrons attended. In 2018, they're hoping to reach 50,000 patrons served. He was pleased to report that heir four educational programs are all 100% sold out, and seating at performances is currently about 76% sold out. He envisions that their best growth option is to expand “horizontally” by offering performances like their new off-Broadway show that will open soon.
An editorial side note: if you haven’t seen Matilda you are missing a VERY funny and professional performance. My wife and I took our two 4thgrade grandchildren and her stepson to the show over the weekend and we all roared at the over-the-top performances by the villainous headmistress and Matilda’s well-coiffed father and vampy mother. Don’t miss it! 
We will not be meeting next week, but there will be a special Christmas Eve edition of this newsletter that will provide a preview of January topics and a summary of this week’s meeting. 
Wayne Gersen
Russell Hampton
National Awards Services Inc.