A letter from Samantha Chandler (Co-Founder & Board President), Jen Ryle (Co-Founder and Outgoing Artistic Director) and Lily Raabe (Incoming Artistic Director):
To our community,
Olympia Family Theater began in 2006, when Co-Founders Samantha Chandler and Jen Ryle created something the South Sound was lacking; live theater programs produced specifically with young audiences in mind. Over fifteen years, our dream has grown exponentially – from a tiny production company with $1000 invested by its founders, to a full-fledged theater with our very own space. We have presented more than 60 main stage productions, offered dynamic, year-round educational programs, and grown our annual budget to nearly $300,000 dollars (pre-COVID).
Thanks to our generous donors and funding from public and private grants, OFT successfully managed our resources through the pandemic. Meanwhile, the down time gave Jen time to reflect on OFT’s future, and her own. Heading toward re-opening, she decided the time was ripe to pass the torch to a new generation of artistic leaders. We are excited to introduce everyone to our new Artistic Director, Lily Raabe. The transition to her leadership has already begun, but as of Oct 25, 2021, she will officially be running the show. We know you will all make her feel welcome and assist her and our awesome team of staff and volunteers in shaping the future.
At OFT, we have always worked hard to be inclusive and have a positive impact on our community, and we know there is always more to be done. Lily’s passion and experience with equity work, fundraising, development, community-building, creativity, and joy are exactly what we need to move OFT into the next era. We are excited to work together toward a full re-opening with Lily and our new Education Director, Rachel Carlson and Operations and Marketing Manager, Mike Taylor.
Looking ahead to the next fifteen years, Olympia Family Theater will tell courageous stories celebrating the multitude of identities, cultures, and experiences that exist within the Puget Sound. We will use theater as a catalyst for building an intergenerational and multicultural community. We will center the voices of young people as future leaders capable of writing new American mythologies. And, we will dismantle barriers to participation in the arts – because, at the heart of everything we do – we believe that access to art is a human right.
We promise that families will always find magic, imagination, adventure, and joy at Olympia Family Theater. We welcome you to join us in writing our next chapter – we will be offering a series of virtual and in-person community gatherings this fall as we craft a 3-year Strategic Plan honoring our history, and dreaming big for the future. If you are interested in joining us – please use the links provided below.
With big, BIG love,
Samantha Chander, Co-Founder and Board Chair
Jen Ryle, Co-Founder and Outgoing Artistic Director
Lily Raabe, Incoming Artistic Director