I have mentioned this before, but here at Wolf Trap we are an interesting park because of our interpretation of the National Park Service mission. Unlike most parks that focus primarily on preservation of natural and cultural resources, we also strive to preserve the performing arts. We do this through hosting several artists in concerts, plays, etc. While it is the park service’s job to run the park, the booking of the acts and selling of the tickets is solely the responsibility of the Wolf Trap Foundation for Performing Arts. The Wolf Trap Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to “present and create excellent and innovative performing arts programs for the enrichment, education, and enjoyment of diverse audiences and participants.” One key aspect of the Foundation’s mission that I respect is their focus on diverse audiences. They take pride and put a lot of energy towards making sure that any patron that opens the pamphlet filled with the summer schedule will find a show that speaks to them. That means there is a wide range of shows that come to Wolf Trap during the summer.
One of the more diverse weeks was last week when I offered to work as a Ranger one night and an Usher the next. Last week at Wolf Trap we had Slightly Stoopid, a fusion band of punk and reggae on Thursday; Juanes, a Colombian musician who sings only in spanish on Friday; and then ended the week with the National Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on Saturday. Having worked Slightly Stoopid and Juanes I can attest that very different types of crowds came to the shows. Regardless of what the show is though everyone is coming to Wolf Trap for the same reason, to hang out in the outdoors while listening to their favorite type of music. Catherine Filene Shouse, the original owner and donator of the park land (as well as millions of dollars to build the actual Theater and create the Foundation), once said in an interview to Department of Interior Secretary Ordell, “You have many parks for recreation, but you have nothing in the performing arts. And people find through performing arts their balance in tense times, their joys in their everyday life.” I think the Foundation’s dedication to making sure every type of person regardless of their taste in music or entertainment can find something to enjoy at Wolf Trap, helps keep Ms. Shouse’s vision for this place alive. It has been interesting to work in an environment that depends so heavily on the cooperation between a nonprofit and a public agency in order to effectively serve the public.