Shari Gasper

My day job is being the communications manager at the Overture Center for the Arts.

I joined the team in the fall of 2019 and am really enjoying my role. I get to write about artists and upcoming shows, have a hand in our promotional materials, and work with the media. I also support the development staff with fundraising appeals and help the equity and innovation team in their efforts.

This is the first time I’ve worked in the arts and it’s exciting to be part of bringing these resources to the public, connecting and inspiring people through art. Part of Overture’s mission is to create “extraordinary experiences for all.” And that means all ages, all economic levels, all cultures.

Our programming team travels the world to bring the best shows to Madison. The world’s largest arts festival is held in Edinburgh (Scotland) each August where they feature thousands of shows for programmers to choose from. And our VP of programming (Tim Sauers) is actually a Tony Awards reviewer so he frequents New York and is an expert on Broadway shows.

But those Broadways shows are just part of the story—we typically bring eight to nine of those to Madison a year, but there’s so much more to check out. We host about 350 performances a year and many of them are free or low-cost.

One I’m really excited about is called the Lullaby Project. Professional musicians work with pregnant women to write songs for their babies. It’s a program designed to support maternal health and parent/child bonding. Wouldn’t that be cool to have a professional song created specifically for your baby?

One of the most fun things about my role is the exposure to new artists and performers. When it’s time to create promotional materials, I love to check out a video clip or listen to some music from whomever I’m writing about. It helps me learn about my subject and is a great way to get in the mood to share the excitement around them.

My most memorable caffeine is always some kind of tea. It’s healthy and there are teas for every mood and time of day: green tea if I’m feeling under the weather, black tea if I need some energy. I also associate it with friendship—having a cup of tea is a chance to sit down and catch up. I was recently in London and Edinburgh and often stopped for tea during my travels. I was always cold and needed it to warm me up!

My current caffeine of choice is typically a steaming hot chai tea.

My favorite place for caffeine is often Starbucks. I had my first chai tea there and there’s something about knowing exactly how my tea will taste (though I am willing to try new places for chai and often do). Plus, I do like the rewards program and double points days.

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine is either one of my daughters, of course! Plus, I’d love to sit down with Oprah. She’s a great role model: a successful woman with a giving heart, two things I admire. And growing up in the ‘80s, I was fascinated with Princess Diana, so would have enjoyed chatting together over tea.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: Our lack of kindness. Wouldn’t it be great if consuming caffeine made people kinder? We drink so much of it, we’d have this problem fixed in no time. Having a bad day and feeling grumpy? Drink that caffeine, fill up on kindness and watch it overflow to others.