We are so grateful to welcome our newest Board Member, Chelsea Rennhoff, to our Board of Directors and Director’s Circle Philanthropic Group! Hear about her beginning in the performing arts and love for the Charleston community below.
Please share some of your background and how your love for the arts began.
I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I trained as a classical singer when I was young, which is where my love for the arts started. I’ve moved all over the country and world for my work in HR, and I’m very happy to be in Charleston now. My husband is originally from South Carolina, so this is a really special place for us to be. As I explored opportunities to get involved in the community when I moved here, Charleston Stage became such an easy choice. I’ve loved being able to be a board member and do volunteer work to stay involved in the arts.
How did you come to discover Charleston Stage?
Since I finished college and started my career, in each city I’ve lived in I’ve strived to get involved in my community in some way. Even when you’re new in your career, often the best way to get plugged in with different organizations is to volunteer your time and skills to help others by contributing what you already know. I like being involved in one local and one national organization. I had the privilege of meeting Janet, Charleston Stage Board President, at the CityStage Gala last spring, and she asked me as someone with HR expertise to join the board.
Something that’s really special about Charleston Stage is its diversity of focus in performing arts. Often arts organizations are uniformly focused on performances. What I found so compelling about Charleston Stage is the breadth of their work in the community by also prioritizing arts education–the number of kids in the Charleston community who are touched by their work is incredible. The shows are amazing, but I find it really unique how big of a hand Charleston Stage has in the community by being very education focused.
As a new board member, how would you like to see Charleston Stage grow?
I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing on the search committee–exploring the right leadership for someone in this critical role at such a widely respected institution but who can also offer fresh eyes to improve how we run the organization. Secondly, I think even in an organization as dynamic as Charleston Stage, on any given night at the Dock Street Theatre we’re seeing mostly folks who are older. We need to be thinking more about our next generation of supporters, and I’m interested in exploring how we can bring more young professionals to the stage and make the theatre a date-night spot.
I’ve led work on how to bring more young professionals to an organization, and the key way is creating community, a space where you know you’ll see your buddies there. I really want to focus on helping Charleston Stage expand this.
What is your impression of Director’s Circle?
There’s an important distinction between a season ticket-holder and a Director’s Circle ticket-holder. One, it’s really fun–the environment is great! Because Director’s Circle happens at the beginning of the show I’m able to talk to so many people I know about it after I attend to come see the show later. As we emphasize that Director’s Circle is a philanthropic organization, it’s important to explain how much Charleston Stage does to improve our community with arts education and how the contribution of Director’s Circle members helps the organization do that. If you are someone who is interested in the arts and wants to meet like-minded people in Charleston, this is the place to do it!
Why do you think the performing arts is so important to people in all walks of life?
The companies I work in HR with employ people of all walks of life and experiences. What’s unique about art is its capacity to put everyone in our communities on a more even playing field and help us all feel better connected. The arts transform people out of who they are on a day to day basis and take them to a place of better relating to one another. The arts bring people together regardless of where they are in the world, especially when you’re watching a performance as a group–the differences between you and other people start to fade away. The U.S. right now feels really divisive, and I believe it’s important to look to arts organizations to help unite us.
The arts are incredibly important for kids because it provides a space to express themselves creatively, help them share how they are feeling, and more intelligently manage their emotions.
Charleston Stage is unique because it wants others to get involved in the arts and learn the arts. The organization sees its mission to create bridges across Charleston into the arts, such as with the CityStage and TheatreWings programs. Arts communities give young people a place to feel like they belong, and oftentimes, that’s enough.
What is your favorite show?
The Music Man on Broadway took my breath away when I saw Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster opposite each other recently. And, I had the opportunity to play Amaryllis when I was younger!