Town Hall Discussions: The Artist-Theatre Relationship

by August Schulenburg

in Events

How can we breakdown the boundaries between artists and administrators?

How can organizations grow without losing flexibility?

How do artists balance finding an artistic home with keeping creative independence?

These were just some of the questions raised in our recent Round Table Discussions held in the fall of 2010 as part of our Field Conversations.  These discussions began to identify the successes, challenges, and ways of strengthening the relationships between individual artists and institutions.

We realized we wanted to expand that conversation as we move towards our 50th Anniversary  National Conference in Los Angeles. We’ll be exploring New Models as a central theme of the Conference, and reconsidering the artist-institution relationship is essential to that work.

Where do you come in?

We’re encouraging theatres to organize Town Hall meetings in which artists and theatres talk openly about successes and challenges they face in working together. Participation is entirely voluntary – just fill out the Join-In Form, and get started!

How does it work? Here are some guidelines to help you structure your Town Hall:

  • TCG will provide talking points taken from Round Table conversations to be used as starting points for dialogue;
  • Host one 3 hour session held between January 23 –February 15, 2011 on a date/time that works for your schedule;
  • Meeting location is at your discretion – at your theatre if you have a facility, at a local coffee shop or via SKYPE;
  • Meeting Size is at your discretion, but we ask that the participants include non-staff individual artists in your area, as well as theatre staff;
  • Try to include a range of performing artist disciplines – including but not limited to actors, directors, playwrights, designers and dramaturges;
  • Appoint a facilitator for the conversation – it could be someone on the theatre’s staff, an artist associated with the theatre, a theatre trustee or someone from your community;
  • Appoint a note taker to capture key discussion points, and report back to TCG on the key points form by February 18, 5pm EDT;
  • Notify Sarah McLellan if you can offer the option of calling into your meeting either via a landline or SKYPE. We’re trying to observe (listening, not participating in the discussion) as many of the Town Halls as possible.

We found the Round Tables to be inspiring, passionate and informative learning experiences; and hope these Town Halls will deepen the understanding and true engagement between theatres and artists. Keep an eye out on Twitter for the hashtag #TCGTownHall to see who else is in on the action!

If you have any questions, please contact Sarah McLellan.  And be sure to keep an eye out for an announcement about the Field Conversations Survey, which will gather quantitative information from artists about their working conditions and relationships with organizations.