SPOTLIGHT Series: Vanessa Bamber, Executive Director
As we approach a year under the stewardship of Vanessa Bamber, I really wanted an excuse to share adorable/incriminating photos...
I wanted to get to know the Disney kid behind the Executive Director.
So I asked.
Tara Branham, Artistic Producer: If I were to say to a bunch of people who know you, “Give me three adjectives that best describe Vanessa,” what would I hear?
Vanessa Bamber, Executive Director: Fearless. Direct. Kind.
TB: So…you’re the Executive Director. What is your favorite thing that you get to do in that role?
VB: I get to be responsible for the future success of a Chicago Dramatists. Now some may put up their hands and say “No way would I want that weight of responsibility,” but “responsibility” is the key word for me. My responsibility is to apply all that I know to keeping Chicago Dramatists around for a very long time. To do otherwise would feel less than I’m capable.
TB: In your time so far at Chicago Dramatists, what are you most proud of?
VB: I am most proud of being a part of something special. Every day I come to work is a day that I get to drink the energy of a space where new work is created, artists are engaging, and those around me pour their hearts into making it all go.
TB: I’m about 20 feet from your desk every day…and because of that I know you love Disney tunes (also Iknow you used to work at Walt Disney World). What’s your favorite Disney lyric? And why?
VB: I can't just give a lyric here, it demands the whole song: "When You Wish Upon A Star." I have immense faith in myself, that I can achieve anything I put my mind too, and I’ve proven that to myself and others many times over. But I still have many wishes left to fulfill. So I keep wishing and working towards those things my heart desires. To understand me is to understand that I am a Disney kid through and through. It’s my sanctuary, a place where anything is possible.
I believe in true love, that good overcomes evil, magic is real, and anything is possible with a bit of faith, love, and pixie dust.
TB: What are you working on right now?
VB: Strategic plans for annual and major giving, marketing, and operations. Oh, did you mean something creative? That’s on pause but when I can get back to it I’m working on 3 new musicals and one interactive play. Head over to spellcastentertainment.com for the goods on my creative side.
TB: What’s the best piece of management advice you ever received? Who was it from? Did it come from Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights? Be honest.
VB: I’ve actually never seen Friday Night Lights. Best piece of management advice is something I took out of business school and made my own, “Preparation is everything. Be so prepared there is no argument to make against your plan.”
TB: Who's your favorite employee? Why?
VB: My favorite employee is one who leaves their ego at the door, rolls up their sleeves and asks, “What can I do?” The work we do in the the arts is messy, emotional, often hard to manage, and takes a special stock of person to show up every day and do the work well.
TB: And at Chicago Dramatists that is....
VB: I believe that Glenn the Copier truly exemplifies the spirit of the team at CD.
(Follow Glenn on Instagram @Glenn_the_Copier)
TB: What was the last picture you took with your phone?
VB: This is my 6 month-old puppy Maximus. He is part German Shepard and Labrador Retriever.
TB: What song would you sing at the top of your lungs at the office…if no one (::side eyes Tanuja, Operations Manager::) would judge you? (I’m still not allowed to play Norah Jones...)
VB: Bring on the judgement! I sing to music based on my mood; if I feel it large enough—I’ll sing it. Though mostly you’ll catch me singing, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey at full blast (especially on Fridays).
TB: There’s so many theatres in Chicago. And so many more across the country. What made you choose to move to Chicago and come to Chicago Dramatists?
VB: My choices have to call to me. When I read the job posting for the Executive Director position, it struck me in that psychic-pull sort of way. Having recently gotten into producing new work and book writing, working in a place that provides the training, space, and connections to create new work was a golden opportunity. I love the work I do and I want to be a part of a thriving theatre community, so what better way to combine my love of organizational refinement and growth with (in my opinion) the best theatre community in the US, than to come to Chicago!
I love the work I do and I want to be a part of a thriving theatre community.
Check out what Vanessa's been working on at Chicago Dramatists!