The Wilma Theater
"A fresh perspective about what we want to do…."
Established in 1973, the Wilma Theater challenges the Philadelphia cultural community by creating theatrical productions of original material and developing local artists. In 1996, the Wilma opened its new facility on Philadelphia’s famed Avenue of the Arts. The Wilma Theater has established a national reputation for living, adventurous art that engages artists and audiences in imaginative reflection on the complexities of contemporary life. While presenting provocative work ranging from international drama to new American plays, the Wilma Theater experience does not end at curtain call, however, and with each production the Wilma offers free or low-cost discussions which address topics and themes relevant to the play. The Student Sunday Program exposes students to live theater at minimal cost, while Fellowship and Internship Programs provide valuable training to students and recent graduates in all aspects of professional theater.
When Neil Kutner was named Interim Managing Director in February 2019, the previous Managing Director and General Manager had recently left the organization, taking with them over 30 years of institutional memory about the theater’s business and accounting functions. Kutner freely admits that accounting isn’t his strong suit and much of what he needed to know was foreign to him, so he brought in Your Part-Time Controller to fill in the gaps in the business office and give him time to evaluate what to do with restructuring the financial operations.
“The reason I was thrilled with YPTC was by having a new person in the office examining all our financial functions and processes with a clear eye, it helped me to decide what worked, what didn’t, and what we needed to change,” he recalls. “It gave me a fresh perspective about what we want to do next with the organization.”
The YPTC Associate was Rita Dame, who Kutner calls a “rock star” for being regularly available to him as necessary after regular business hours, and also for her dedication and personalized approach.
“Rita did far more than she was asked. She was willing to sit down with me and tell me what I needed to know to do my job better. She was invaluable. She is an expert in her field and she helped me to be better in my job.
“She didn’t feel like a typical part-time employee,” he adds. “She was completely invested in our long-term processes and in giving me time to determine where we wanted to go. She was someone I completely trusted and could count on. YPTC helped us get through a difficult time and gave us more than what a temporary employee would normally do.”
As pleased as Kutner was with her services, he came to realize that he needed a full-time, 40-hour person in-house. Dame stayed on to help with the transition and make sure that what she had learned and done was transferred to the new staff person. But Kutner plans to call on YPTC in the future to help with special projects.
“It’s been a very positive experience,” he adds. “I truly believe that success is in the people.”