We hope this finds you and your family warm and safe.
We're writing to share some very big news: The AFT Board has voted to change our name!
To what, you might ask? We're not sure yet. But first let me say this.
We realize some of you may not be pleased with what you've just read. You're wondering why we'd change a name that for almost 25 years has signified joyous family memories under the stars.
We understand. We love the name AFT, too. So it's taken us years to reach this decision.
The reason is pretty simple. The name just doesn't fit us.
When we began in 1990, we thought we'd mostly be carrying on the tradition of our predecessor, the Heritage Ensemble----that is, doing revues of authentic American folk songs with a few moss-covered jokes tossed in.
Very quickly AFT became something quite different, focusing on new book musicals about Wisconsin culture. They're not "folklore" in the way most people use that word.
And our name makes it really hard to attract new audiences who'd love what we actually do. Many of them think we're a children's theater. Or amateur. Or a bunch of bearded banjo pickers in suspenders extolling the wonders of Paul Bunyan's ox.
Our name has also made it really hard to attract new writers and composers, the lifeblood of a theater like ours.
So to coincide with our 25th anniversary and make sure we're as strong as possible for the next 100 years, we want to change our name. But our mission remains the same. We'll still be creating affordable, family-friendly original musicals rooted in Midwest culture, presented with the highest professionalism we can muster.
We already have a few strong name ideas. And because we dearly value your input, we're writing to see if you have any suggestions.
If so, we'd love you to send them to us by no later than Friday, February 14th, 2014. You can email your suggestions to Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your reward should we choose your suggestion: Your photo on the cover of the New York Times? Dinner with Justin Timberlake? An all-expenses paid trip to Crivitz?
Actually, just the satisfaction of knowing you helped in this all-important project. And maybe an ice cream sundae after a show with my darling wife Jody and me. Our treat.
Thanks for your help. You are AFT.
Co-founder, American Folklore Theatre