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ALTA (Austin Latino Theater Alliance) is a collaboration of artists and community volunteers uniting the Latino and Hispanic theater groups of Austin, Texas.
ALTA's projects include the traditional community production of the nativity play La Pastorela, as well as various artistic and cultural endeavors. In the spirit of a bilingual and bicultural society, the group produces programs in English and Spanish. ALTA calls this espíritu de comunidad "Universal Theater," and it is rooted in human relationships and nurtured by new ideas and new participants. ALTA believes that theater is a cultural force with the capacity to transform lives and society itself.
As it has grown, ALTA remains committed to developing new talent in the theater arts, promoting collaborative productions among local and international artists, and bringing the highest quality theater to the Austin audiences. But making sure everyone is on the same page was not always easy.
"Having to make changes to previous documents, where we all had input information, there was a lot of confusion with who had the last corrections and who kept the old ones," says longtime ALTA marketing chief Karla Longnion.
In addition, because ALTA's volunteers often have different schedules, scheduling meetings and working on projects in person was often impossible.
"Coordinating our schedules was a challenge, since we used to do it by phone or text, so last-minute changes were a nightmare. Keeping sponsor, supporters and audience lists was difficult."
ALTA teamed up with Coolhead Tech and began using the collaborative power of Google Apps for Business. Soon, the theater experts were discovering how easy it was to use Google Sites to coordinate actors, sponsors and supporters.
Longnion says ALTA's volunteers are "fascinated" with Google+ Hangouts and instant chat. They also started using Eventbrite to sell tickets online and Square and PayPal to accept payments.
"Coolhead always has creative ideas to help us improve our communication skills and promotions," Longnion said.
Armed with improved connections and networking capabilities thanks to Google Apps and Coolhead Tech, ALTA is ramping up its production of contemporary plays and is even planning a summer camp for young Latino actors in Central Texas. This fall, ALTA is sponsoring its first non-Christmas production with award-winning Mexican playwright Barbara Colio’s Cuerdas, or Strings, which will be shown at the Mexican American Cultural Center.
With Google+ Hangouts, businesses like ALTA can stay connected and undertake these kind of projects with ease. Volunteers can securely share files and collaborate in real-time, keeping versions organized and available wherever and whenever they work. ALTA is using these solutions to achieve even more customization by partnering with Coolhead Tech to create their own slider gadget for Google sites.
"Now we can all be working from different places and make sure we are all on the same page," Longnion said. "We love Google Docs, especially when all of us are working on them at the same time. We can add information for others to review on the spot. Adwords has brought new visitors to our website, and the calendar allows us to coordinate networking events and much more."