We were just in Los Angeles for our sold out, highest attended Conference ever! It was a tremendous success, thanks especially to the participants, the presenters, our funders and our community of hosts. As we celebrate TCG’s 50th birthday, it was a truly magical moment in our field. We were thrilled to have several legends among us and although Zelda Fichandler was not able to attend, she was with us in spirit.
We also welcomed the youngest of practitioners and future practitioners, including teen council members (our “digital natives”) from Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. We will be providing you with links and resources in the coming weeks, so that you can catch up with what was discussed in L.A. In the meantime, here are some of the Plenary sessions you might like to visit or revisit on our livestream site: 1) a session with futurist David Houle; 2) a double session starting with a panel on the results of TCG’s “State of the Artists” survey and ending with Past as Prologue: Dreams of an Ideal Theatre, a presentation by Todd London (36 minutes into the recording). Bookending these sessions, you will hear some of the inspiring “Whatifestos” that were given by Conference participants. You’ll also find the Breakout session by Douglas McLennan, founder/editor of ArtsJournal.com. We will post videos from other sessions shortly, including Julie Taymor’s presentation, but until then, here’s a good article from the Los Angeles Times’ Reed Johnson on Julie’s conversation with Roger Copeland.
In the coming weeks, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill that would eliminate the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education. This bill is an even more serious threat than the annual federal funding measures, as it would permanently strip the language out of the Education Act that allows the Arts in Education program to be funded each year. Visit the Performing Arts Alliance website to contact your Members of Congress and urge them to protect the Arts in Education program. We really need to generate a lot of emails on this one!
Also in advocacy, Fox News has taken on TCG member theatre, Poor Dog Group in Los Angeles, as an example of wasteful public spending. Itamar Stern, director of development & programs at Poor Dog, and Olga Garay, executive director of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, are both interviewed in this video report. We may see more and more media stories that position public arts funding as wasteful. The Performing Arts Alliance is working on a messaging effort to be launched in the coming months. Some of the key points will be familiar to you, and you should use these in advocating within your own communities: the nation’s small investment in the arts yields significant returns—arts foster community vibrancy, economic advantage and educational advancement and build the imaginative capacities of individuals nationwide.
I will be on vacation this week and will not be sending an update. Stayed tuned, though, for some fun features when I return!