Not Talking Codpieces; SECT’s “Spamalot” Star, Steckelberg Explains Endowment

DJ Steckelberg, standing center stage in a recent production of Spamalot, is Sioux Empire Community Theatre’s Director of Development

The leadership of the Sioux Empire Community Theatre (SECT) recently announced that we have accomplished an essential fundraising task. Between Nov. 2015 and March 2016 our theatre raised over $10,000 for an endowment challenge.

After an extensive application process, SECT was selected as one of three organizations by the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation for the Arts Endowment Challenge.

The Arts Endowment Challenge sets lofty goals for the organizations to meet. For us at SECT, this meant that we HAD to raise $10,000 by March 2, 2016. If we had failed to meet that goal, the challenge would have been over and the theatre would have had to reassess its fundraising methods and priorities.

Fortunately this was not the case, our theatre raised more than $10,000 by the end of February and completed this part of the challenge. An endowment for Sioux Empire Community Theatre has been established.  But we’re not through the woods.

So, what is an endowment anyway?  An endowment means that we will have a professionally managed fund that will incur interest and grow through the years. The fund can always be added to and a percentage can be drawn from it for board-designated projects or needs. The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation will manage this endowment.

The next step for SECT is both exciting and daunting. We must now raise an additional $90,000 by Dec. 31, 2018. When we accomplish this goal the Foundation will add an additional $33,000 to the endowment!  This money will help to ensure the financial future of the organization for the theatre long-term.

This is truly exciting news for our vibrant community theatre. It speaks to how bold the organization’s vision is.  But this is a daring endeavor to undertake and we’ll need all the help we can get out of  the ‘community’ part of our name.

The $90,000 has to be raised in addition to the fundraising we already do to keep the theatre operational.

Operating a theatre of this size is very expensive. With seven major productions and two youth camps produced annually, costs add up quickly. Costs such as facility rentals (SECT rents their facilities from SMG, the company that manages the Orpheum for the City of Sioux Falls), performance rights, construction materials, insurance, marketing, stipends, and salaries are just a small sampling of operational costs. Ticket sales account for approximately 60% of the income with the rest coming from personal donations, corporate sponsorship and grants.

A special task force is being assembled to help with the extra fundraising effort over the next 34 months and counting, but if you want to help out now – here’s where to send your tax-deductible donation:

Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, (please put “SECT endowment fund” in the memo line) 200 N. Cherapa Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57103. Or you can make a credit card gift at Note: SFACF is charged approximately 2.5% fees for credit card transactions made online.

We hope to see support continue to roll in.  If any readers have further questions, please contact me at

– DJ STECKELBERG, Director of Development / Sioux Empire Community Theatre


A Source for Sioux Falls Theatre


The act of creating is a brave one – especially for the performing artist.  A performer dares to walk on stage in front of people who are demanding to be entertained.  It is no small task and there are no certainties.  On stage one is naked (some literally), vulnerable – anything can happen.  There is no hiding.  When one dares to create and share it, one is taking a risk.

The Falls Theatre Blog (that’s us) is aiming to reward that risk by providing a resource that curates, promotes, and offers a critical eye to performing arts enterprises in Sioux Falls and the region.  While it will take time for FTB (that’s us) to earn the credibility as a source for theatre arts in Sioux Falls, we know that there is a demand for local coverage that isn’t being met by traditional outlets.

Many might not know that within the past 18 months two local theatre companies have debuted with performances in non-traditional venues in Sioux Falls’ downtown.  Those two companies, Fishmongers Actors Theatre (FAT), and Monstrous Little Theatre Company (both can be found on Facebook) have bet that Sioux Falls is willing to support live theatre that caters to more mature audiences in downtown Sioux Falls.  Monstrous believes audiences are ready for lesser-known and edgy theatre that has been performed in Sioux Falls, but mostly isolated to academia.  FAT thinks there’s an audience for original and regional premiere works that champion Sioux Falls playwrights.  Both think you’d like to enjoy drinks before and during (thumbs up).

The mission of this online publication is to increase the awareness of what’s happening in Sioux Falls; to aggregate the efforts of theatrical organizations in Sioux Falls, to promote local performing arts by local artists, and to offer feedback to their performances and aesthetic in the form of reviews submitted by peers with performance backgrounds.*  We are limiting the scope, at first, to downtown Sioux Falls or performances at less traditional venues by local artists.  We hope to expand as we find more boots to put on the ground to comprehensively cover the theatre scene in the region.  If you are or know of anyone that is interested in helping our coverage, email us at

We look forward to guiding readers toward new experiences and providing a resource for keeping up with the growing artistic/entertainment scene in Sioux Falls.  Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and spread the word if you feel this enterprise is worth supporting.

*The objective of any criticism will always be to offer an educated opinion for the organization to use (if they care to) and to cultivate audience knowledge of performing arts.  It will be our goal that no criticisms are levied to be disparaging for the sake of being disparaging.  This may be a fine line, but we intend to meet it.  At first we will ask our reviewers to use a pseudonym.  The size of the performing arts community is small – we all work with one another – and we want the reviewers to feel free to contribute to the artistic conversation without fearing that the reviewer might burn a bridge with a would-be collaborator.  I will serve as the editor and liaison between the reviewer and the writer.  I take that role seriously, but if anything were to be considered unfair then I would accept the responsibility for that sentiment and correspond using