The business and theater worlds seldom collide. If they do, it is often through patronage, such as a corporate donation, not partnership. Which led us to ask ourselves if we were missing out on a chance for mutual benefit. Could a strategic partnership between Edelman and the Tony Award-winning Intiman Theatre be good for Edelman's clients and employees, as well as the theater itself?
The Creative Cooperative was designed as an opportunity for Edelman to explore that very question. By supporting an acclaimed local arts organization, and in partnership with it, Edelman employees and select clients took an inside look at storytelling through the perspective of artists who know it best.
The core idea was to leverage local performers, and their command of their craft, to help solve corporate storytelling challenges. Through music, dance, myth and other storytelling tools, colleagues and clients were taken on an unexpected, and sometimes uncomfortable, journey of self- and team-based exploration.
To captivate an audience, the participants first needed to become comfortable in front of one another: not with a PowerPoint, not behind a podium, but by being vulnerable, human and emotive. This was, and remains, a complete twist on traditional presentation training.
A custom curriculum was designed to make connections between humans, break down existing notions of what product demos or presentations "should" look like, and encourage each individual to find his or her own story before tackling the common work assignment. Through this process, participants were encouraged to shed preconceived notions and embrace unfamiliar ways of thinking about communications, much as theater has done for eons.
As a community arts organization, Intiman has benefitted from the Creative Cooperative in a number of ways. The Creative Cooperative currently supports more than 10 percent of Intiman's operating budget, which has enabled the theater to expand its staff and, subsequently, its creative offering. What's more, the additional income allows for free and reduced-price ticket packages, making the theater more accessible to the broader community.