Matt Newman | ENGAGE 2020

Matt Newman

Consultant, The Frontier Project
Richmond, VA

Matt Newman has always lived at the intersection of creativity and commerce. And he knows that a little conflict between the two is a good thing.

Matt made his professional live comedy debut when he was 14 years old, in a sketch group run by a local theater. It was his job to host two evening shows—and then clean the popcorn machine. He recognized then the necessity of balancing creative work with the business aspects of a company. It was an insight that made a lasting impression.

Now, as a consultant at The Frontier Project, Matt’s approach continues his long-running quest to link art and commerce. The secret isn’t choosing one value over another—instead, he focuses on how the friction between creative design and business reality can actually make both stronger.

Balancing a distinct creative vision with the needs of the market come naturally to Matt. He’s always continued to pursue live comedy, teaching classes and performing with future SNL cast members in groups like Chicago’s iO Theatre. He’s also worked as an account executive at the Schafer Condon Carter advertising agency (favorite client: the Chicago Cubs), and as the director of content development for a top 20 national accounting firm.

Matt is a cofounder of Richmond’s Coalition Theater, a hub for live comedy, classes and workshops. As the Executive Director, Matt harnessed the natural tension between business and art to make a vibrant creative product and a profitable company—one that had an impact far beyond the stage, like training police officers in improv to help them defuse tense situations.

Most weekends, you can still catch Matt performing live comedy, or serving as the “sidekick” on the live late-night talk show RVA Tonight. Backstage, he’s probably checking his phone for the Cubs score, or relaxing with a classic Super Nintendo game (ask him about EarthBound). But no matter if it’s a sold-out show or intimate executive boardroom, Matt’s on a mission: Keep the lights on and the laughs coming.