PURPOSE...it matters!

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can

change the world are the ones who do."

– Steve Jobs, former co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc.

When Nebraska Shakespeare first began, it did so with two purposes: 1) free entertainment for the public and 2) educational opportunities for college students. In those early beginning days, we were an organization that was unsure of what we could be, how much impact we could have or how long we might actually be around. We existed in a space very similar to that of being a child; everything was a discovery; everything was new and we had no sense of self.

36 years later, a great deal has changed. We have learned a great deal, created a Nebraska Shakespeare family of more than 800,000, explored what “more” might be, and have done so with the full financial support of our family and business friends. But just like people, we have now arrived at a moment where we can pause and ask “Is this all there is? What else can I do?”

After the painful years of COVID and its significant financial toll on the arts, we knew we had to show the world we were still alive and capable of doing what we had done previously. So, our Camp Shakespeare educational program happened in the spring of 2021, we then stood up a Fall Tour and in 2022 we proudly returned Shakespeare On The Green to Young Park after an absence of more than 2 years. We did what we knew we had to do and in doing so we discovered a powerful and transformational truth; it is time to re-invent Nebraska Shakespeare so that it can be here for the next 36 years. The world has changed, and we can choose to either adapt and grow or stagnate and go out of business. We choose to grow!

No longer content to do what we have always done, we are ready to become what is next; to be big, bold, relevant, and increase our impact not just throughout Nebraska, but to leave our impact as widely as possible. We know we have more work to do, more creative endeavors to pursue, more lives to affect, more communities to engage, more inclusion and diversity to create, and to serve as a model for what Great Art is! We know we can change the world!

Organizational Purpose, as defined by researchers, Reyes and Kleiner, 1990, is “…the driving force, the fuel, the bond, the intangible link that pulls the organization together to achieve success” Our purpose is not our WHY, but the “driving force” behind WHY and all that we do. Without defining our Purpose we are an organization that “does things”. When we define our Purpose, we are an organization that “does things on Purpose”.

For us, in 2023, as we launch Year One of our 10-year vision, we see our renewed purpose as significantly more than when we very first began;

GREAT ART. We will position Great Art at the center of everything we do, from how we think to how we engage, from our productions to our educational offerings and everything along the way. When we talk about Great Art we are not talking about replicating something someone else has done. Instead, we are talking about exploring, embracing risk, boldness, and creating relevance. We will continually challenge ourselves to reach higher, constantly push for boldness, relevance, and truth, embrace risk and innovation and foster a culture of authenticity and daring. We will not present work because we can, we will present work because it is transformational. We will create Great Art in all that we do so that our community will be empowered to see themselves as relevant, essential, valuable, and inspired to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and State.

EDUCATION. As we move forward, we will create world-class educational opportunities that are deeply rooted in measurable outcomes, critical thinking, and workforce development. Through collaborations with Nebraska statewide educators, we will redesign and refocus the educational work of our FALL EDUCATIONAL TOUR. We will re-establish our EMERGING ARTISTS program by offering highly focused career training. Grounding our programs in the Servant Leadership model, we will build partnerships with universities for credit as well as network with theater companies throughout the United States for future employment opportunities. We will create educational opportunities in all our work, centering on self-expression, personal discovery, and creativity, promote civic discourse and advance professional development.

COMMUNITY. We will work to build strategic partnerships that support, advance, and build engagement. A purpose for our existence is to create “community”, with intention and commitment. From hiring to engagement, from community groups to business, from productions to day-to-day work we will promote collaboration, celebrate authenticity, and deliberately make space to cultivate and grow a dynamic and inclusive community. The NEW Nebraska Shakespeare embraces our civic responsibility to help create, build and sustain a just, equitable, and diverse world, for all of us. ONE STAGE FOR ALL.

IDEAB (INCLUSION, DIVERSITY, EQUITY, ACCESSIBILITY, AND BELONGING) While IDEAB work is often seen as a goal, at Nebraska Shakespeare, “Belonging” is a value that we deeply embrace as an organizational north star. From our work to our productions, from our engagements to our planning, we strive to create a welcoming, collaborative, and “open” environment that prioritizes ALL ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. We will prioritize belonging and anti-racist practices, stand as a role model of organizational transformation through IDEAB for our community and State, invite diverse and differing thoughts and opinions and embrace our responsibility of creating evidence of our IDEAB work in our work and art. We are committed to this purpose to create an inclusive world for all Nebraskans.

This – Great Art, Education, Community and IDEAB – is our Renewed Purpose. This is our “driving force” behind all that we do. This is the engine that drives us towards significant impact and inspires us to believe that we can change the world! This is the NEW Nebraska Shakespeare!