Recently, I had the opportunity to celebrate my official tenth anniversary with EPIC Entertainment, Inc.® My tenure with EPIC began part-time, some 13 months prior to my official hire date, but regardless, the decade I've spent in the event business has been one filled with wonderful company successes and some economically-induced, stomach churning trepidations.
When I arrived, EPIC as a company didn't exist. We were then the 'event division' of historic Starlight Theatre in Kansas City. But as the home venue grew in newly designed square footage - and our earning potential increased along with it - by early 2003 we were no longer able to continue as part of a not-for-profit entity. EPIC Entertainment, Inc.® was spun-off as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Starlight. And more than a new company took shape: I had found a new career.
It never dawned on me through all the years of training and touring in the professional theatre, and singing and acting across our country, that I would one day actually find creative fulfillment on the 'other side' of the footlights and cameras...but find it I have.
In the years since EPIC became a company, we have provided over 350 clients with a multitude of event, meeting, entertainment, and video-related services. We've developed and executed strategic business plans for numerous clients, and managed scores of conferences that saw those ideas come to fruition. We've produced a multitude of galas and fundraisers that have raised millions of dollars for necessary causes; scripted and directed countless videos (a number of which have been award-winning); and written custom-crafted entertainment shows that have employed some of our city's best professional actors and singers. We've worked with national headliner bands, comedians and talent acts; designed scenic elements and tablescapes; dragged barricades to closed streets for festivals; ridden golf carts with 'stars' through back corridors to hotel ballrooms; hauled mascot puppies across miles of exhibit floors; wrapped toilet stalls in silk; and used masking tape to remove lint from a CEO's jacket...more than once. And though the hours are long, and a week's worth of work rarely ends at the weekend, it's been a great ride and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity I've been given.
At my recent "Decade of Donna' party, thrown for me by the talented staff at EPIC, I had an opportunity to think back over the last 10 years. I am proud of our growth; blessed by the guidance mentors, board members and CEO's have shared with our EPIC team; humbled by the loyalty of so many returning clients year after year; and oh, so thankful that I was in the right place at the right time with the right skill that let me take on a new business.
As I have often said, 'I'll probably sing at my own funeral,' and I still have plans to retire (not anytime soon) to the old actors' home in New Jersey to read aloud all the roles I never had the chance to play on stage. But my 'stint' as an event producer has turned out to be a rewarding new pathway to creative fulfillment.
As we ready ourselves for the year ahead, we are also positioning ourselves to further broaden our services for clients, new and old.
And a decade later, I can whole-heartedly say - I'm proud to be part of the EPIC team.
Donna Thomason was EPIC's first Entertainment Coordinator and currently serves the company in the dual positions of President and Creative Director.