Official Media Release
American Folklore Theatre Announces Timeline for Rollout of New Name
In January of 2014, American Folklore Theatre (AFT) announced that, beginning officially in 2015, the award-winning Door County troupe would debut a new name.
While they had several strong contenders, the company looked to the community for feedback and name suggestions through February 14th.
"The response was amazing," reported Director of Development and Public Relations, Holly Feldman. "We received more than 300 name suggestions from our devoted fans. In addition, we were overwhelmed by the strong expressions of support as we take this next step. The strongest themes running through all this feedback were those of family memories shared and the uniqueness of our theater under the stars."
The name change has been a part of the theater's Long Range Plan for more than seven years, involving serious analysis and consideration by the Board of Directors, management, cast, crew and outside advisors. While people who know and love AFT are comfortable with the name "American Folklore Theatre," the company has found that it has drawbacks. The name has also made it difficult to attract new writers and composers, the lifeblood of their original works.
"We understand the nostalgia for our name and have taken the responses to heart. AFT has employed the assistance of a task force to aid us through this transition," stated Artistic Director, Jeffrey Herbst. "The Name Change Task Force is made up of senior company members as well as a representative from AFT's writers, performers, board members, and volunteers."
The Task Force thoroughly reviewed the public submissions and made a recommendation to the Board of Directors for final approval. Though the community input opportunity wasn't billed as a naming contest, the group was buoyed by the suggestions that were in line with some of the names that had been under consideration for some time.
"We have developed some criteria that we have used to evaluate literally hundreds of names," added Board Chair, Mary Seeberg. "It's also the rationale we used for scrutinizing the name options we were strongly considering before we asked for public input."
Managing Director, Dave Maier, further explained, "In general, the new name will symbolize our theatre - it will evoke the experience while not being overly specific or clever. It will reflect and respect the feedback we've received during this process. A meaningful name with broad appeal will help to expand our audience."
The new name will be revealed at their annual Raise the Curtain fundraising event. This year the event will be held on Sunday, May 25th at the Alpine Resort in Egg Harbor. Invitations will be mailed after April 17th.
"We want to reassure folks that the only thing changing is the name. Our mission will not change in any way. We will continue to provide 'heartwarming original musicals to delight the whole family'. Our new name will not change what you love most about the company and the work we create," stated Co-Founder, Doc Heide.
AFT originally began as The Heritage Ensemble almost 45 years ago, founded by the University of Wisconsin. The group reorganized and changed its name to American Folklore Theatre when it separated from the university and incorporated as a non-profit performing arts company in 1990.
Over the past 25 years AFT has evolved from a story-telling and concert-centric ensemble to a full-fledged theater organization that primarily focuses on the creation and presentation of original full-book musicals. Some of its shows, such as the hit comedy "Guys on Ice", have performed in dozens of theaters coast to coast.