What Puts Wind in Your Sails?

By Robert Sweibel · October 12, 2022

A few weeks ago, I ventured into Central Park for one of my all-time favorite New York experiences—a night of free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theatre. Set against the backdrop of Belvedere Castle and the skyscrapers on West 57th Street, this gift to the people of New York City—a tradition six decades in the making–is among the most blissful ways to spend a summer evening. Never mind the occasional downpour. 

From the beginning, Public Theater founder Joe Papp made free access a hallmark of this program. More than six million free tickets so far. Yet this year’s modern, musical interpretation of AS YOU LIKE IT advances the ‘big tent’ ethos even further. Cast not just with professionals but with a hundred amateur actors representing all five of the City’s boroughs (and a couple walk-on raccoons), the Forest of Arden brought professional pizzazz and community passion together for a thrilling activation of the Public Theater’s value of ‘theater for everybody’ and an exuberant celebration of love in all its forms. 

This got me thinking. Navigating through an ongoing pandemic that has capsized our institutions and tossed people overboard challenges us more than ever to chart courses that power both our institutions and ourselves. So, I’m asking myself two questions, one professional and one personal (because, at least for me, professional is personal). 

  1. How does Sweibel Arts add value to the performing arts industry? I’ve distilled it to this: We harness data and insight and utilize innovative practices to support the development and activation of artistic programs that align mission with community. That is, we help artistic and executive leaders understand their communities. And we activate what distinguishes each organization singularly to connect with those communities.
  2. Secondly, how does Robert Sweibel put wind in his own sails? Well, with years of hard work and generally good juju, I’ve placed myself at the intersection of what the industry needs, what I’m good at, and what I enjoy. I’m in a reverse Bermuda Triangle, if you will, a place where I find the lift that propels me. My place.  

What works for you? What’s your unique value in our industry? And how do you put wind in your sails?