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Dear Friends,


We hope you're finally thawing out from the longest winter since mammoths strode the Earth.  Right now many of you are probably wishing you'd bought stock in propane.


We're writing to offer a brief update on the AFT name change.


First, in case you missed our earlier announcement, we're in the process of selecting a new name for AFT.  The main reason is that we're hoping to broaden our audience.  Over the years we've gotten a lot of feedback that the word folklore gives many people an inaccurate sense of what we do.  And lots of them choose to not join us for a show.


Now, some of you believe what we do is accurately described as folklore.  After all, don't our shows celebrate the folk culture of the Upper Midwest?  You're absolutely right.  They do.


Our very earliest stage...

The problem is that not everybody defines folklore in as sophisticated way as you do.  Many people think folklore describes traditional tales rather than the original ones we create.  So we're hoping that, even if you do think what we do is folklore, you'll still love what we do even under a different name.


Second, we want to thank everybody who submitted suggestions. We got over 300 of 'em!  Though this wasn't really a naming contest, we were delighted and honored that so many of you helped us out.  Almost all of your comments were supportive, and some of the names you offered were similar (or identical) to ones we were already seriously considering.


Third, this process is stirring up some emotion.  Many of you told us our current name is perfectly fine with you.  It invokes warm memories of family happiness under the stars.  And you're deeply concerned that the name change means that what you love about AFT will change, too.


We understand.  None of us like hearing that somebody is going to change something we love dearly. And we're emotionally attached to our name, just as you are.


So let me say this.  All of us at AFT are completely dedicated to preserving our mission.  As long as we're alive and kicking,

2010 Roof Shot Cheeseheads
... Our stage today.

we want to create and produce heart-warming regionally-based musicals suitable for the whole family. 


The only thing we're changing is our name, so that even more people can enjoy what we do.


So here's what's been happening. A task force of senior company members, writers, performers and board members carefully examined the names you submitted, plus a few of our own.  We made a recommendation to our board about what name we should choose, and the board supported it unanimously.  The new name will be announced at our Raise the Curtain event on Sunday, May 25th.  By 2015 we will operate under the new name.


The name we have settled on is one that surfaced over two years ago, and, since that time, we have pondered it, tested it, compared it with many others, and ultimately grown to love it, just as we're sure you will.


Again, thank you for supporting us through this process.  Hundreds of you have told us once again how important this theater is to you.  And we're gonna do our best to make sure it's worthy of your hopes and dreams.


See you under the stars.      



Doc Heide

Co-founder, American Folklore Theatre

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.   

American Folklore Theatre is a non-profit professional theatre organization that produces original musical shows in repertory from June through August.  AFT continues its performances into the fall with shows in Door County indoor venues September through October and over the Christmas holidays. For more information on American Folklore Theatre, please call the AFT office at (920) 854-6117 or visit the AFT website at www.FolkloreTheatre.com.