Growing up in a small town in Kansas didn’t give Andrew Heckle much chance to participate in the arts.
“There was nothing in the local community for performing arts,” recalled Andrew, a Strategic Account Executive with RxBenefits. “It was football and basketball, and that’s it. Maybe that’s part of what drives me.”
Andrew’s passion for the arts – despite his professed inability to sing, dance or act – has led him to a different level of involvement. Since May 2018, he has served as a board member for Twelfth Night Productions (TNP) in West Seattle, WA.
Andrew, who’s based in Seattle, said his involvement with TNP came about almost by accident.
From Food Bank to Theatre Board
“I used to volunteer at the West Seattle Food Bank every so often,” he said. “Unbeknownst to me, one of the other volunteers at the food bank was a current TNP board member. She learned about my background and eventually introduced me to TNP as a patron and supporter. After a couple of years, they asked me to join the board. So, repacking bulk food at the food bank led to my first board position!”
Andrew said he was excited about being asked, but he was careful to be up-front and honest with the board before he joined.
“I told them ‘I can’t sing, or dance, or act,’” he said, with a laugh. “But they said they had enough artsy people on the board; they wanted someone who could provide a business perspective.”
TNP began almost 30 years ago as a week-long summer camp for children. Today it’s a haven for the performing arts in the community, providing a place for local artists to develop and practice their craft and an environment for students of all ages to learn about the performing arts. Andrew describes it as “true community theatre,” and said almost all of their actors and performers are local non-paid talent.
Making a Difference, the Business Way
Upon becoming a board member, Andrew realized how important his business acumen could be.
“We do four shows a year, and the biggest moneymaker by far is our summer production,” he said. “Some of the board members wanted to do Rabbit Hole, because it’s very cerebral and appeals to actors and artists. I agreed that it’s a wonderful play, but we needed to promote ticket sales for the summer, and the general public wasn’t going to be interested in Rabbit Hole.”
Andrew won that debate. The four TNP productions for the 2019 season were Once On This Island, Three Tall Women, Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Radio Play, and – the summer production – Nine to Five The Musical, adapted from the popular Dolly Parton movie.
In addition to his scheduling advice, Andrew said he’s also working to cross-promote TNP with local businesses in West Seattle to build more grassroots support for the organization. Roughly 130,000 people live in West Seattle, or about 20 percent of the total Seattle population.
“West Seattle is basically its own town,” he said. “I like to shop and buy locally whenever I can, so I’m using my contacts with local businesses to grow awareness and support for TNP.”
Although his involvement with TNP is just over a year old, it’s obvious Andrew is intent on continuing to serve his community in various ways.
“I truly believe in giving back, and I believe in the arts,” he said. “I love doing this.”