Lean Ensemble Theater
PO BOX 23214
HILTON HEAD SC 29925-3214
Contact Information
Organization DBA (Doing Business As)
Organization DBA
Address PO BOX 23214
HILTON HEAD, SC 299253214
Telephone (843) 715-6676
E-mail info@leanensemble.org
Projected Annual Revenue $250,000.00 (2017)
Mission Statement Lean Ensemble Theater is a professional, performing arts based company founded in the spirit that theater is a living entity which is bigger than any individual or group lucky enough to work in the field. Despite many long-held hypotheses that theater is a dying art form, we choose to celebrate its vibrancy and longevity. It is our belief that a band of artists can come together in the truest sense of the word ensemble, each part in relation to the whole, and bring an innovative form of theater to the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a community ready to lean forward and engage, hungry for something with a bit more bite.
CEO/Executive Director Blake White
Board Chair Myla Lerner
Board Chair Company Affiliation Mylar Productions
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2015
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expenses Bar Graph - All Years
Graph: Expense Breakdown Graph - All Years
Revenue vs Expenses Area Graph - All Years

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Lean Ensemble Theater is a professional, performing arts based company founded in the spirit that theater is a living entity which is bigger than any individual or group lucky enough to work in the field. Despite many long-held hypotheses that theater is a dying art form, we choose to celebrate its vibrancy and longevity. It is our belief that a band of artists can come together in the truest sense of the word ensemble, each part in relation to the whole, and bring an innovative form of theater to the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a community ready to lean forward and engage, hungry for something with a bit more bite.

Lean Ensemble Theater began its journey in August of 2014 when a meeting was held with leading local business people and active theatre artists. A pitch was made by Founding Artistic Director Blake White that, while Hilton Head had a very strong arts community and “arts scene,” that something was missing. Hilton Head and its surrounding area had no shortage of live theatre, but most offerings in the Lowcountry were of the musical variety and no local company was concentrating on more intimate, “conversation driven” theatre. This could be changed. The consensus was that this idea had great merit and that the best first step was to put something out there that would best represent who we want to be. The goal became to try and raise a small amount of money in order to put a play on stage that fit the mission of this new company— something that was both artistically challenging and could be produced in a fiscally responsible way. In January of 2015 a “launch party” was held. Dozens of friends and supporters of the arts were invited to get specifics of this new company, now officially called Lean Ensemble Theater and the “founders program” was introduced. This program was essentially a premium ticket offering which would help offset the costs of the first production, which would be the Tony-Award winning God of Carnage. $100 got people a ticket and offered a small contribution for the fledgling company. By the time God of Carnage opened to a full house on May 14, 2015, there were over 200 “founders” of Lean Ensemble Theater. God of Carnage attendance shattered expectations and was met with great enthusiasm by audiences as well as the local press. Following that success, LET announced a full season and a small board of directors was assembled so that the organization could start to catch up with the product. In its first year, LET obtained 501(c)3 non-profit status from the IRS, we saw audience growth with each production, offered free performances for students, created partnerships with other local organizations. The board of directors has doubled in size, the ensemble of artists now exceeds 15 and there is a small army of volunteers who believe in the LET mission. The goal of LET has evolved to producing 4-5 productions a season, as well as several independent events. However, the original goal stays the same— to have the conversation begin when the lights of the theatre first go down and continue long after you’ve arrived back home.

1- Announced and commenced a 3rd fully staffed professional MainStage season and increased individual ticket holders as well as season subscribers with each production.
2- Cultivated an education wing which sends ensemble members as well as guest artists to local schools as well as the HHI branch of the Boys and Girls Club as well as the Island Rec center. We also performed a student matinees of TRIBES and OTHELLO free of charge to local schools.
3- Founded a new work initiative, named Lean Lab, which will focus on the development of new work, including work from playwrights that has never been published.
4- Collaborated with other organizations, including Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, Memory Matters, the Art League of Hilton Head, the Hearing Loss Association of America, Women in Philanthropy, Carolina Cups & The Warehouse Theatre (Greenville, SC).
5- Continued membership to local (Arts and Cultural Council of Hilton Head), state (South Carolina Theatre Association) and national (Theatre Communications Group) arts/theatre organizations.
1- In the current year we are focused on increasing LET's visibility, fiscal solvency so that we may further develop our education and new play development. We are also focused on examining all of our ticketing, creating several "discount" night's (Teacher Appreciation night, Pay What You Can with a Can matinees) so that the theatre remains as inclusive a place as possible.
2- We raised money to bring a regional tour of Shakespeare's OTHELLO for a free matinee for local schools. The professional group of actors also took workshops to Hilton Head Preparatory School, Hilton Head Christian Academy and the Boys and Girls Club for free workshops. Finally, there was an evening performance for donors who had helped fund this opportunity for local students.
3- Lean Lab will hold it's first set of staged readings of IF YOUO FORGET ME, a play commissioned and developed at Lean Ensemble Theater by Chicago based ensemble member Nora Leahy. 
1- The launch of our new play initiative, Lean Lab, has begun in earnest, continuing with staged reading of a new play by Chicago based playwright and Lean Ensemble member Nora Leahy in March 2018. Following that and the following year of further development with the Lean Lab staff, a full production of the play (entitled "If You Forget Me") will take place. This will increase the main stage programming of Lean Ensemble Theater by 20% with a world premier of a new play right here in the Lowcountry.
2- The director of Lean Lab is currently working gratis as he maintains other employment (he is a full time professor at Georgia Southern University). In order for this program to reach their potential into 2019 funds must be found to provide stipends for their work, otherwise these programs will prove unsustainable.
3- Working at the Hilton Head Prep Main Stage Theatre has been a blessing, but we currently can only afford to rent the facility for 5 days prior to opening. A $240 per rehearsal day, it's daunting to have the show "teched" for opening and impossible to increase the rental period.
4- Lean Ensemble Theater has only one full-time employee, the Founding Artistic/Executive Director. The rest of the staff (the associate artistic director and administrative coordinator) both earn part time wages, making it necessary for both to have 2nd jobs. Again, unsustainable. 
5- The staff lacks people in vital positions such as directors of development, technical director and production management, also impeding the company's ability to reach its full potential.
CEO/Executive Director Statement
Lean Ensemble Theatre provides a section of performing arts which was missing from the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Passionate. We produce a wide range of work, from Tony or Pulitzer Prize winners straight from New York to our own spins on the classics from Shakespeare to Williams. Always thought-provoking, we celebrate the vibrancy of live performance by inviting audiences to lean forward and look at the world in a different way. Lean Ensemble will leave you talking and thinking about what you've seen and heard long after you've left the theater. Talkbacks, dramaturgical forums and other interactive events will offer the opportunity to exchange ideas and share comments and experiences with the ensemble and audience. This creates a dynamic that is not only missing from most theatre audience experiences, but also becoming more rare in our day to day activities. LET offers the chance for people to leave their devices in the car and come into the theatre for face to face interactions with other people. It is an opportunity for conversation driven theatre, where the hope is that the only distraction for an audience member will be the desire to continue the conversation with friends long after the show has ended. We ask for more from the audience. If your hope is to simply come to the theatre, buy a ticket, and witness a production, you will be missing out on the entire LET experience. The opportunity to do far more that see a show is at your disposal every time you are a part of the LET experience.

In the last 12 months

- We have continued to grow our programming, producing 4 conversation driven pieces of theatre for the Lowcountry, including regional premieres of Tribes, The Clean House and Constellations.

- We have cultivated our work by collaborating with other regional organizations over the past year, including the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, Hearing Loss Association of America, The Warehouse Theatre of Greenville, South Carolina Theatre Association, South Carolina Arts Commission, Boys and Girls Club of Hilton Head, and the Island Rec Center.

- We have tackled larger work by driving conversations regarding the deaf community, terminal disease, and race. Ian McCabe’s work through Lean Learning has thrived by bringing Shakespeare to Hilton Head, in the classroom as well as on the stage. We have begun work on our new play initiative which will continue with Lean Lab in March and beyond. Winter and Spring of 2018 also bring work which is a little large in scale with Good People and The Importance of Being Earnest. Hopefully we’ve been making you laugh from time to time as well.

-This growth has occurred responsibly and thoughtfully as we have increased our budget by 24% while remaining financially solvent and transparent, with our first financial letter of review having just been completed.

Board Chair Statement

Three years ago this theater company did not exist and today Lean Ensemble Theater is a thriving entity-- dedicated to bringing intimate thought provoking theater to the Low Country. By engaging every audience in a post performance discussion with cast, director and dramaturg, we offer a unique experience for the theater goer.

As a Volunteer Board, we strive to keep this theater fiscally viable, accessible to a wide audience and financially transparent. We take that responsibility seriously- making sure that we offer the best artistic product for the best economic value. We have gained the respect and support of the local government and press and continue to build a loyal audience base.

Our challenge remains to market our ensemble to local full time resident, part time resident, and visiting audiences. To meet that challenge, we will continue to collaborate with other organizations in the Low Country- notable the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and the Boys and Girls Club; continue to expand our Education division by working in the school and other local youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club as well as offering free student performances; and continue to increase our social media presence.

Areas of Service
Beaufort County
Jasper County
Hilton Head Island, SC, 29928, 29926
Bluffton SC, 29909,
Okatie, SC 29910
Savannah, GA
Beaufort, SC 
Board Chair
Board Chair Myla Lerner
Company Affiliation Mylar Productions
Term Apr 2016 to Apr 2019
Email mlerner@leanensemble.org
Board of Directors
Mrs Judy Bluestone community volunteer
Ms. Mary Briggs Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra
Mr Stephen Hasley community volunteer
Ms. Myla Lerner Mylar Productions
Mr Joe Maguire Wolverine Development
Mrs Carolyn Males community volunteer
Mr Michael Nairne Retired
Mr Edward Parrish Retired
Mr Bo Pearson Retired
Mrs. Lisa Snider Retired
Mr Blake White Lean Ensemble Theater
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 11
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 6
Female 5
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? No
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 91%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 9%
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 11
Standing Committees
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
As a "working board" the board of directors is often tasked with the day to day administrative minutia , preventing many from the proper big picture thinking that is necessary from an organizations governing body. Things like the design of donor envelops often inadvertently take more time that the full picture of fundraising as a whole. We are meeting this challenging but taking a hard look at the staff structure of the organization to see how it can be expanded in a fiscally responsible way as well. We have also began an "Lean Ensemble Inner Circle" of volunteers who can assist in many of the day to day necessities of the company so that the Board can have a stronger and more appropriate role of the overall strategic plan of the company.
Executive Director
Executive Director/CEO Blake White
Experience Blake White, the Founding Artistic & Executive Director.  LET include directing credits include The Clean House, Tribes, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, The Glass Menagerie, and God of Carnage. On stage, Blake has appeared in The Underpants and The Waverly Gallery.

Elsewhere as a director, Blake has staged productions of Shear Madness (Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute), All My Sons (The Warehouse Theatre), The Lonesome West (Brown County Playhouse), The Glass Menagerie, Boeing Boeing (The Shuler Theater), Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Schoolhouse Rock, Live! (Main Street Youth Theatre), Matt and Ben, The Pavilion, The Savannah Disputation, The Lady With All the Answers and Venus in Fur (South Carolina Repertory Company).

As an actor, he has been seen on the stages of Actors Theatre of Louisville, Actors Workshop of Boston, The Shuler Theater, Brown County Playhouse, South Carolina Repertory Company, Cider Mill Playhouse, among others, as well as several off- and off-off broadway companies. Blake has also provided spoken word narration in concerts with the Hilton Head Choral Society and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.

Blake is a member of the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society as well as the boards of the South Carolina Theatre Association, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and Lean Ensemble Theater.

Full Time Staff 1
Part Time Staff 2
Volunteers 24
Contractors 40
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Under Development
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Management Succession Plan? No
Diversity Policy Under Development
Whistleblower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Chamber of Commerce2016

Lean Ensemble Theater is happy to announce an array of educational opportunities. The programs are focused on increasing access to the world of professional theatre for Lowcountry youth. These programs will include:

v In-School Workshops: Workshops are designed and taught by Lean Ensemble Members and Lean Ensemble's guest-artists.

v LET has connected with the Boys and Girls Club of the Lowcountry to begin a fruitful partnership, as well as the Island Rec Center. This fall Lean Ensemble has again conducted two youth theatre workshops with the Boys and Girls Club and Director of Education Ian McCabe has maintained a twice a week residency.

v Production Internship: Every Lean Ensemble Production in the fall 2017/2018 season will utilize local youth in internship roles. These interns will gain hands-on experience in diverse array of theatrical disciplines both creative and technical.

This fall the Lean Ensemble education department will make good on the groundwork laid for more workshops and educational opportunities coming in 2018. These will include more workshops for Lowcountry students and free student matinees.

Budget $7,500.00
Short Term Success The short term achievement is simple. When we have completed workshops we are immediately asked when we can return. The improvement we must have is the administrative power is takes to fully contact and schedule all organizations/schools so that we can continue to "get out there." This is a problem for all new non-profits, and LET is not immune to that.
Long Term Success The goal of this program is simple. To make the excluded feel included. We hope to keep the programs at a low cost, or at best free of charge so that families of every tax level may participate. Part of LET's mission is fiscal responsibility-- to remain Lean. So we feel that that is also the best way to provide as much inclusive opportunity as possible.
Program Success Monitored BY In Lean Ensemble Theater's short existence we have just begun to collect the data necessary to fully gauge where we are succeeding and coming up short. In the near future, we have plans to remedy this by soliciting the student, families as well as our overall audience's opinion via in house and online surveys of what we're doing what they want from us. This information will be useful in not only planning a mainstage season, but also our other educational and new play development within the community.
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year 2017
Projected Revenue $250,000.00
Projected Expenses $250,000.00
Spending Policy Income Only
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense----$900
Administration Expense----$13,208
Fundraising Expense------
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.14--5.02
Program Expense/Total Expenses0%--6%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%--0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets----$56,770
Current Assets----$56,770
Long-Term Liabilities------
Current Liabilities------
Total Net Assets----$53,770
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets----0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount ---- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount ---- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount ---- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
State Charitable Solicitations Permit
Registration Exempt Nov 2017
Organization Comments Please note LET switched from 12-31 to 6-30 fiscal year end on January 1, 2016 resulting in a 6-month fiscal year ending 6-30-16.  We have recently filed a 990 for the fiscal year which ended 6-30-17.
Nonprofit Lean Ensemble Theater
Address PO BOX 23214
HILTON HEAD, SC 299253214
Primary Phone (843) 715-6676
Contact Email info@leanensemble.org
CEO/Executive Director Blake White
Board Chair Myla Lerner
Board Chair Company Affiliation Mylar Productions
Year of Incorporation 2015