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Q&A: Rob Cline

BY DI STAFF | MAY 12, 2011 7:20 AM

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We sat down with Rob Cline, the director of marketing and communications for Hancher, and spoke with him about the challenges of marketing the arts, upcoming events, and what he enjoys doing in his free time.

Daily Iowan: Since assuming your position as director of marketing and communications for Hancher, how have you seen the organization grow as a whole?

Cline: I’ve been on the Hancher staff since late 2001, first as the assistant marketing director, then as the marketing director, and now as the director of marketing and communications. Over that time, the Hancher staff has really ramped up our efforts to reach out to the entire state of Iowa with events and programs that allow us to connect great artists with great audiences in other communities. And, of course, the flood has made it necessary to really rethink the ways we serve our local community, which in some ways has made us a more agile organization.

DI: Do you think the flood has hindered any of the performances/events, or has it been beneficial?

Cline: We certainly miss having a dedicated performance space where we can present artists, and we’re looking forward to having a new home in the future. That said, we’re blessed to do our work in a community that values the arts and that is home to other organizations that have been willing and able to help us continue to do our work during this period. We’re serious about our “Can’t Contain Us” spirit, and we’re thrilled with the partnerships and relationships we’ve been able to develop as a result of doing our work in a new way.

DI: What are some of the challenges you face when trying to promote/market concerts through Hancher?

Cline: From a promotional/marketing point of view, one of the big challenges right now is making sure we’re very, very clear about where our events are. Also, we work hard to provide a “Hancher experience,” regardless of the venue we’re using, so that’s something we talk about quite a bit in the programming, education, and marketing department. People have trusted us to provide outstanding artistic experiences for nearly 40 years, and we make sure that the audience has experiences of that same caliber during this period.

DI: Are there any upcoming events/shows that you are excited about for next season?

Cline: There are a bunch of shows I’m really excited about. But the season announcement isn’t until June 6, so I can’t talk about most of them yet. One thing we’re all really excited about that has already been mentioned publicly is a collaboration with Sean Christopher Lewis and Working Group Theatre. Lewis is writing a new play about issues that are important to Iowa City and other communities. We love to work with artists to support the creation of new work, and it’s really exciting to be working with a local writer and theater group that we admire a lot.

DI: What is your favorite fine art to go see and why?

Cline: I first started to pay attention to Hancher’s dance programming back when I was a student usher at the auditorium in the early 1990s so that I could impress a fellow usher who was a dance major. I’m married to her now, and I still love to go to dance performances with her. Also, I love to go to jazz concerts with my 14-year-old son, who has loved jazz since he was very little.

DI: What do you enjoy to do in your spare time?

Cline: I’m a voracious reader, in part, because I’m a freelance book reviewer. But right now, I’m reading a ton of comic books and graphic novels, most of which I’ll never review. Comic books are tricky for a colorblind guy like me, but I’m really enjoying it.

— by Samantha Gentry


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