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the Long Center, from Inside the Ring

Monthly Archives: November 2012

On a particularly sweltering Saturday this past August, I sat decompressing after a very successful event the Long Center had hosted that morning on the City Terrace. Bubblepalooza!, a brand-new free event, featured an environment of open play  combined with the sweet sounds of Kiddie Rock. Over 3000 men, women, and children dropped by in just three hours. We were all overwhelmed by the response.

For the purpose of this tale, the term “decompressing” means to sit elated with friends and their children who had attended the event, brainstorming additions to the immediately conceived second annual Bubblepalooza!, all the while trying to grasp the awesomeness of what had happened that morning. There were just so many smiling faces! At one point, while reiterating my disbelief of the sheer volume of little bubble blowers that came out to participate, my friend asked me why I was so surprised.

It had been just eight months since the Long Center presented a company from the United Kingdom named Architects of Air and their amazing Luminarium, an enormous inflated structure that at first glance looks like a futuristic bounce-house village. From the moment I saw it, I knew Austin had to have it. It was the first big project I ever stuck my neck out for as an arts programmer, but the gamble paid off in spades. In just seven days, more than 8500 Austinites young and old had experienced the Luminarium, many happily waiting multiple hours for the opportunity. The friends I was “decompressing” with that afternoon had all taken their children to experience the “Mirazozo,” as this particular Luminarium was named. One friend shared something that took me over the edge from elated to completely blown away: her son, who was just three-years-old back in January, still talks about his trip to the Mirazozo almost a whole year later.

Long Center Programming Manager Karen Jantsch stands in front of Architects of Air’s “Mirazozo”

For me, the satisfaction of being a programmer comes with bringing Austin not just the things they want to see and experience but also the things they don’t even know they want. The response to the Mirazozo solidified this notion for me, and for that I will always be grateful. It also reminded me just how powerful experiences can be as a young child. As they say, “with great power comes great responsibility,” so I’m making it my responsibility to ensure that a whole new host of Austinites get to experience the Luminarium first hand. It is my absolute pleasure to announce that this January the Long Center’s West Lawn will host this sensory experience of color and light once more. This time, we’ll be presenting the company’s 25th Anniversary structure “Exxopolis”. Like with all things Long Center, we’re working hard to make the experience even better than last year, so I hope you’ll make a note on your calendar to visit us January 19-27 for what I promise will be an unforgettable experience. Stay tuned for more details!

– Karen Jantsch, Programming Manager
The Long Center

For more photos and information about Architects of Air’s Luminaria, visit

A photo from the inside of Architects of Air’s “Mirazozo.”

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Our sincere hope for each of you on this day is that you are able to set aside the stress of traveling, cooking, entertaining the in-laws, or seeing your favorite football team let you down on primetime television once again (sorry, Cowboys fans!) and take some time to think about just how good we all have it. We asked our coworkers and directors at the Long Center what they were thankful for this year, and here’s some of what they told us –

“When your family is far away, the people you work with become your defacto family…I am thankful that I get to work with some incredible people at the Long Center who care about this community and work so very hard to make it a better place to work, live and play…”

– Jamie Grant, CEO/Executive Director

“I’m grateful and thankful this time of year (and all year round) for the love, support and health of my family and friends.  I’m grateful that my parents raised me to be respectful and kind to others, and to myself.  I’m grateful I’m able to feel the fall sun of my face while a gentle breeze tickles my hair.  I’m grateful for the laughter of my nieces and nephews, and for the purring of my kitten.
I’m grateful for my health and for being able to pay the bills. I’m grateful for the amazing creativity and energy of my co-workers – and of this entire city.  I’m grateful for memories, both happy and sad, because of the comfort they bring.  And finally, I’m grateful that I have more things to be grateful for than I realized.  How lucky is that?!?!”

– Kiran Dix, Finance

“I am thankful for the health of my family and my wonderful dog and cat, all of whom are the center of my universe.”

– Angie Horejsi, Executive Office

“I’m grateful for being able to enjoy family, friends and the happiness that God has given us. How fortunate we are to have what we have!”

– Orlando Martinez, Building Operations

“I’m thankful for an inclusive city where I can grow both personally and professionally.
I’m thankful for family and friends near and far who are supportive, generous, and always put others before themselves.
I’m thankful for the diversity of our events throughout the city and that we continue to be a big blue dot on the political spectrum.”

– Jonathan Martinez, Marketing

“I am grateful for my amazing and charming family and my wonderful friends.”

– Becky Liendo, Box Office

“What I am thankful for this holiday is a great Board of Directors and a great Staff at the Long Center helping make Austin a more creative place.”

– Cliff Ernst, Chair, Board of Trustees

“I’m grateful for a community full of people so ready to participate, experience, and wonder. This past year I was gifted with your willingness to try new things many times over—and not just try, but embrace. It makes the work of a programmer that much more rewarding to have an audience that is so present. At the holidays and all year round, it is an honor to serve you.”

– Karen Jantsch, Programming

“I’m grateful for the love that your friends and Chihuahuas give you.”

– Annabel Guevara, Programming

“This season I am grateful that my family and I are all in good health.  I am also grateful for my awesome internship at the Long Center, especially the steady supply of red vines and Starbursts.”

– Meredith McCay, Development Intern

“This year I am most thankful for the challenges that I have faced – if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to grow as a person. Of course, I am thankful for my family and friends who, despite long distances, are always there for me. And as always I am thankful for good food, great wine, and even better friends!”

– Bryana Marrero, Programming Intern

“I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my health and the opportunity to work in the arts, doing something I love.”

– Heath Riddles, Marketing

“I am thankful for all the many blessings in my life- but most importantly is that my parents are healthy – especially when I need them to run after my kids!  Second on the list would be Eric Cardona’s baking skills.”

– Susan Griffin, Box Office

“This year I am grateful for little things—like waking up each morning. I’m grateful for the swallows that nest on my balcony in the Spring—I still have reminders of their presence, event today. And I’m grateful for family, as scattered as we are, and for friends who keep in touch—and give me reason to wake up each morning.”

– Ken Shepardson, Guest Services

“I am thankful for this new position with the Long Center, the opportunity to work with such a special bunch of folks and the possibilities of all the fabulous events and performances we will bring to the Austin community.”

– Tiffany Neece, Sales

We all have an awful lot to be thankful for – both during the holiday season, and through the rest of the year. As a recent transplant to Austin, I’m pretty thankful that it still hasn’t approached anything near cold weather yet (despite what the locals bundled up in wool coats and scarves seem to think), that it only took me a few days to learn to avoid I-35 at any time even remotely near rush hour, and for the warm welcome and new friends I’ve made in my few months here. But most of all, I’m more thankful than ever for the people and places I left behind. After five years in Lawrence Kansas and something like eighteen years total in the sunflower state, I’m thankful for the scenic sunset drive from Lawrence to Kansas City, for close friendships built over many years that just can’t be replaced in a few months (but fortunately don’t have to be), and for parents, three brothers, two nephews, and one collie. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities and people and places here in Austin, but there’s nothing like leaving so much behind to remind me just how much I have to be thankful for.

– Nick Curry, Marketing & Development Intern

A wise man said there are three things in life that are eternal, that make it worth living: “love, music, and poetry. In that order.” Given what we do here at the Long Center, we’re all pretty thankful for all three. We all are– and should be– thankful for the food on the table, for the roofs over our heads, and for our jobs in these still trying economic times, but it’s things like these that truly sustain us. And we are ever-so-thankful for that.

From all of us here at the Long Center, happy Thanksgiving.

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Editor’s note: we don’t just do performance arts here at the Long Center. This winter, we’ve teamed up with Texas Gas Service and Caritas of Austin for a campaign called Share the Warmth. This program helps senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and those having trouble covering their home heating expenses to pay for home heating costs and stay warm throughout the winter. It helps Texans in 33 counties, and as the weather turns colder, can literally be a lifesaver for those with financial hardship. We’re happy to be able to be a part of this campaign, and we’re also happy to share with you this guest blog post from a case manager at Caritas of Austin, a nonprofit organization that helps men, women, and children in Travis County who are experiencing homelessness and poverty meet their needs and achieve self-sufficiency.

At 7:30 a.m., I arrive at my office, located in the apartment complex where my clients live and prepare to start the day. As a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Case Manager I meet with clients daily to offer support and guidance.

My first clients of the morning normally come in on time – it’s rare for me to need to remind them to meet their appointments. Most of them have adopted the habit of being early birds. Even better – some have developed a morning routine. It could start with a morning walk, with a stop by my office on their way to breakfast or a shower, or it could be that our case management meeting helps them start the day. Developing a routine is a big step for our clients who are living in Permanent Supportive Housing. Many of these clients lived in very unstable situations for years and being able to create a daily routine can help them move towards achieving a safer, more reliable lifestyle.

Of course, the routine and good habits do not form in one day, month, or sometimes even one year. After all, these clients’ stories are not fairy tales. After the experience of homelessness it’s not surprising that some of our clients need to relearn skills for daily living as well as the meaning of being “ at home” rather than “homeless.”

Being onsite with the client allows me to address their needs and provide them with consultations. Regular case management meetings provide them with a place to share and discuss ways to achieve their goals. My job as a Caritas of Austin PSH Case Manager is to support and assist my clients to reach and maintain these goals. It all takes time, effort and commitment to rebuild the “home” in our clients’ hearts.

A client might have a need they want to talk about, and sometimes even a crisis. Calming their anxiety and normalizing the situation may be the first step. Sometimes a client might have a question about daily skills that most people who have never been homeless would take for granted. Sharing daily living skills and providing daily living supplies are often a part of case management support, in addition to providing housing financial assistance.

Helping my clients to reach and maintain their housing goals goes beyond providing material assistance. Sometimes the support I offer might be teaching a client how to do laundry, how to use a dishwasher, or how to use a vacuum cleaner. It could also mean teaching a client about the responsibilities of being a tenant and importance of making regular on-time rental payments.

Much care, support, and resources can be shared by a Case Manager. The beauty of PSH case management is to witness the little achievements clients make for themselves.

At 5:30p.m., I prepare to end my day. Walking by clients’ units and seeing them sitting on their front porches enjoying the sunset, I know it took them a while to get to where they are now. We are proud of their achievements and are glad we are able to support and witness their accomplishments.

-A Caritas of Austin Permanent Supportive Housing Case Manager

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Editor’s note: we are once again proud to feature the perspective of an organization that makes the Long Center its performance home. This time from Ann Ciccolella, Artistic Director at Austin Shakespeare, one of our new Resident Companies. Austin Shakespeare is staging Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice in our Rollins Studio Theatre November 7-25.

Bit by bit we are putting our new ‘Pride and Prejudice’ together. Actors, designers and crew love working on this new adaptation but it is challenging. Like a carousel, the show goes round every few minutes to a new situation and a new group of characters… including dances and music. Our chorographer Toni Bravo, who can be elegant even in her high-heeled boots, takes the actors step by elegant step.

I love the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, so I am hearing his song in my head “Bit by bit, putting it together.”

Actors know their lines but that is only the beginning of their work as they begin to work on the Rollins stage. I ask the perennial directorial question: “What do you want from him or her?” and “What if you wanted to tease him so he would smile?”

That “what if” is the key to most of our creative action. What if that wall were bluer? What if that hat had a feather? That is the nature of our work: to try. Jane Austen brings out the best in us. We stretch to do great writers justice, and they lift our work with their great imagination.

This week we added more music cues that we have acquired from the original production by Joe Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan. But our actors are from Austin – even if one came last year from Los Angeles and another came six months ago from NYC. This production is original to Austin. We are so fortunate to have our resident lighting designer, Jason Amato turn down other more lucrative projects to work on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with us. His light design will be as delightfully rhythmic as Austen’s language.

Also this week we shot a short trailer for You Tube with Michael Dalmon, and our Elizabeth and Darcy had their first media outing with KOOP Radio “Off Stage and On the Air,” plus we talked with John Aielli on KUT. KXAN-TV for Friday…. Money, time and people. The three elements of any project. In theater, we are always tight on all three. But the people are the best part. They give their all. Actors, designers, technicians and crew. We have a fabulous resident Equity stage manager, Shannon Richey who keeps me in check on not over taxing anyone and everyone.

All in all, we are lucky to have this amazing collection of talent and inspiration…YOU are the final element we need as we ‘put it all together!’

–Ann Ciccolella, Artistic Director
Austin Shakespeare

Austin Shakespeare’s “Pride & Prejudice’ is playing at the Long Center’s Riollins Studio Theatre November 7-25. Visit the Austin Shakespeare site for tickets.

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