Q&A with Tracy Furr, our Creative Director
Posted on 11/14/2017
Joining the State Theatre New Jersey team in 2001, Creative Director Tracy Furr was just looking for an arts job in New Jersey that would allow her to dabble in graphic design for the first time. Now, 16 years later, she oversees every piece of our creative that you see, from brochures to eblast layouts to managing the website, she is the person behind all our design.
You have some background in theater; how did that influence your decision to apply here?
I've always loved theater and the performing arts. My parents were subscribers to a community theater in Florida, I was in drama and played Lucy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown in the fourth grade, I was an active member of our drama club in high school when I lived in Germany, and I spent every single night working with the theater department at my college. The idea that I could combine my love of theater with my major of Mass Communications was amazing to me. Theater administration is a wonderful and fulfilling field. I get to do what I love every day. And when the job became available at the State Theatre in 2001 (I've been here a long time) I jumped at the opportunity to work for such a presitigious organization.
How did you end up in the position of Creative Director? What was your path?
My major in college was Mass Communications but my minor was Theater and I spent every waking moment in college working on shows, whether it was set building, working in the costume shop, stage managing, or performing. My professor helped me connect the dots and got me an internship in the Marketing Department at West Virginia Public Theatre. I then went on to be the Marketing Assistant for the Springer Opera House in Columbus, GA and then Marketing Director for Two River Theatre Company in Red Bank. I transitioned to a graphic design focus when I moved to the State Theatre as Marketing Communications Specialist in 2001 because that was always my favorite part of Marketing. The position would take advantage of my marketing background while assisting the Art Director with the creative workload. I always had the most fun laying out the playbill or working with our graphic designers on poster design and concept. After the Art Director left I was promoted and since then have become the Creative Director. I manage the brand of the State Theatre as well as the visual identity both in print and through our website.
Digital Creation and Graphic Design are a growing field nowadays; how is it different from it was when you started?
It's so much fun now! And intuitive! The software is wonderful to work with, and I basically get to do arts and crafts for a living. Awesome! My favorite part in the advances in technology is silly though. I love email and ftp. Not rushing to a FedEx box with files that I had to burn to a ZIP disk before the FedEx truck showed up, or having to drive to Neptune to drop an ad off at the Asbury Park Press is fantastic! And liberating!
You've been at The State for 16 years —that's incredible! What is so amazing about The State that has kept you here so long?
This place has become my family. I work with my best friends. My husband and I were married in the Heldrich Room. Both of my boys were born at Robert Wood Johnson after I worked at the theater that day because I wasn't ready to take off yet...and they were early. I work with inspiring people. I'm very lucky to be here.
How have you seen the State Theatre grow and change over your time here?
The 2004 renovation was wonderful to be a part of. I got to touch the ceiling when there was scaffolding everywhere. Also, so...many...shows, an ever growing staff, a lovely donor lounge, and the growth of programs I really enjoy—particularly our Broadway series and Family Day.
What are some of your favorite acts that you have seen here?
Jon Stewart, Steven Wright, Peter and the Starcatcher, Pippin, and the performance of 500 Clown Frankenstein I rank amongst my top 5 experiences in my life of seeing theater.
How do you hope State Theatre New Jersey will continue to grow in the coming years?
Family programming! I love how we are offering more all the time but I'd like to see even more diverse options. I've been bringing my boys here since they were 6 months old (I promise we didn't bother any audience members when we were at Go, Diego, Go Live). They have grown up here and I love exposing them to new and innovative theater. Also digital signage because I like to see my posters all lit up and ever changing!