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Colleen Cook photo by Brittany Schock

A Fond Farewell

This article by Brittany Schock has been reposted from Richland Source. Read the original here.

Colleen Cook had no plans to leave the Renaissance Theatre.

After being on staff for six years and serving as the theatre’s director of marketing and communications, it was – and still is – a job she loves. Along with planning and overseeing all promotion of the Renaissance, Cook also manages the Renaissance podcastblog and social media accounts.

So when Scott Williams, president and founder of Vinyl Marketing in Ashland, first approached Cook about a job, she quickly shut him down.

“I told him to buzz off because I like my job,” Cook said with a laugh. “But as time went on it seemed like a really cool, exciting opportunity.”

Months went by, full of thoughtful conversations with friends, prayers for guidance and many journals full of pros and cons. Finally, Cook decided to listen to a small voice inside saying it was the right opportunity, and officially accepted a position as director of operations for Vinyl Marketing.

“I don’t think it’s good to get too comfortable in your career, and at the same time I’m grieving that level of familiarity and comfort,” Cook said. “And there are exciting opportunities for growth for me as a professional.

“I feel like it’s going to challenge me in new ways and that scares me and excites me.”

Vinyl Marketing is a digital inbound marketing firm based in Ashland that focuses on full-funnel marketing. It’s a concept that distributes helpful and free content to consumers while they are still deciding what to buy, then building a series of channels that seamlessly attracts those consumers back to the business.

“You can take people from not even knowing your business through this funnel until they become raving fans of your company,” Cook explained. “Rather than saying ‘buy our stuff’ from that first interaction, we show you what we can do. It helps the client but also positions the business as the expert so they start to build a relationship with their customers.”

In fact, it was Williams’ suggestion for the Renaissance to create a podcast and a blog so that customers could engage with the Renaissance brand in ways other than purchasing tickets and attending shows.

In her new position, Cook will work with both local and international clients to see their vision with Vinyl comes to fruition, as well as working internally with the Vinyl team and leading marketing efforts.

In addition, she has the opportunity to become a part-owner of Vinyl Marketing, which also helped tip the scales towards her next career step.

“When I look at the people who really inspire me, all of them have one thing in common, and that’s that they are business owners,” Cook said. “And looking at what they have been able to do for a community to affect change, I want to be able to do that in my career.

“I’ve been able to do that a lot at the Renaissance, but I’ll be able to do it exponentially more.”

Before coming to the Renaissance, Cook worked with Americans for the Arts and Shenandoah Conservatory Performances while obtaining her masters degree in Arts Administration at Shenandoah Conservatory, where she also completed graduate work in Contemporary Commercial Voice Pedagogy. Prior to that, she taught vocal and general music in Wapakoneta City Schools, after graduating with a degree in Music Education from Ashland University in 2007.

Cook lives in Ashland with her husband and three daughters, which makes the transition seamless. But she still plans to stay involved in some capacity with Richland County.

“It would make me sad if I didn’t; I’m just not sure what that will look like yet,” Cook said. “We’ll figure it out as we go. The Renaissance is no less important to me, it’s maybe even more important to me now because I want to make sure things continue to grow and move forward.”

Cook will officially leave her position at the Renaissance in mid May. During her tenure, Cook helped arrange grant funding to repair and renovate the theatre, helped redesign the Renaissance logo and developed a more cohesive brand for the business.

The hardest part about leaving the Renaissance? The people.

“I have really close friends here on staff, and I love the donors, the performers, I love the people that flock to the Renaissance,” Cook said. “Those are my people. It will be hard to say goodbye.”

Community Collaboration

Creative Collaboration

by Colleen Cook

One of my favorite elements of working with the Renaissance has been the amount of people, organizations, and businesses I’ve been connected with as a result of this work. I’ve heard people in Mansfield say that collaboration doesn’t work here, and I admit that sometimes people don’t play well together, but more often than not I’ve been able to witness Mansfield at its very best when creative collaboration is allowed to happen. Each person, each organization, brings its best to the table and the results are exponentially more than if the collaboration hadn’t existed.

A few examples of these creative collaborations come to mind right away. In 2015, the Renaissance partnered with Little Buckeye Children’s Museum to address a problem at the museum that I had witnessed first-hand with my children.  The stage exhibit at the museum had a hard, wooden painted panel functioning as a curtain. More than a few parents slammed their heads against it as they exited the stage, and the exhibit was underutilized because it was missing some of the critical elements that make a theatre so magical.

Our staff and board got involved and within a few months, we built a new theatre exhibit, “The Little Ren” with a functional curtain, a video monitor, a tech booth, actual theatre seating, a box office window, and a concessions window. Opening this space for our young families gave us a place in the community outside of our own building to foster relationships early on with our region’s youngest arts lovers, and a chance to showcase the many careers in the arts available to our area youth. Today, it remains one of the most popular exhibits in the museum!

Another creative collaboration has been with Richland Source, our area’s online news organization. One of the core values of Richland Source is to proportionally cover the great things happening in Richland County alongside the negative stories, and their unique business model affords them that opportunity. Their team, in particular reporter Brittany Schock, has regularly brainstormed with us ways to think outside the box and partner creatively on projects that benefit the community through playing on the strengths of our two organizations.

This partnership has included creative journalistic pieces like live interviews broadcast on Facebook, a documentary following a young performer from auditions through to performance, and most recently the creation of a new journalistic tool, the Listening Post. A listening post is a microphone stand attached to a digital recorder partnered with a question for individuals to answer without the intimidation that might go along with a news interview.

Richland Source approached the Renaissance to help build this post, since the Renaissance’s brilliant tech team regularly solves carpentry and audio challenges such as this in show production, they were able to create a sleek and functional design in time to launch it at the Community Baby Shower hosted by Richland Source on September 9th. On its inaugural use, the Listening Post received 110 interviews from expectant and experienced moms.

(Warning: If you’re anything like me, this will probably make you cry.)

Here at the Renaissance, we’re particularly excited to place the Listening Post in our lobby for certain events to give our audience voice in a different way than we ever have before, and we’re equally excited to see how it will be used throughout the community by Richland Source and other area businesses.

We could talk about other creative collaborations endlessly, because we’re better when we’re working together. For now, though, stay tuned for some other exciting collaborations coming soon.