New York is toasty right now, and if you too are stationed in a super hot climate, I hope you are managing to stay cool. I just returned from a productive trip to TCG member theatre Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) in West Virginia, where I attended four new plays and participated in a panel about play development. I then had the opportunity to keynote the North Carolina Theatre Conference’s Producing Theatre Gathering in Greensboro, NC. It was a joy to meet so many theatre practitioners from that state and to see the revitalization of downtown Greensboro, which has occurred, in large part, because of the building of cultural institutions such as TCG member theatre Triad Stage. (If you are flying US Airways this month, check out the 60 page advertisement on art, culture and entertainment in Greensboro). As a matter of fact, Shepherdstown, West Virginia has also become a vibrant small town and a summer destination largely due to CATF. Keep these points in mind as you read the update below on the NEA appropriation. We need your help!
While I have been on the road a bit, I’ve also had the chance to visit with theatre leaders here at TCG when they’ve been in the city on business. Many thanks to Charles Towers of Merrimack Repertory Theatre and Michael Kahn of the Shakespeare Theatre Company for taking the time to stop in and visit.
We kicked off the second week of the I AM THEATRE campaign in celebration of our 50th Anniversary with a video of Lou Bellamy. Lou is the founder and artistic director of Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, MN. He speaks of the nature of his work at Penumbra for 35 seasons—showing authentic representations of African American life, which led to an Obie Award for his direction of Two Trains Running by August Wilson. Each week, we’ll spotlight a new video in the hope that I AM THEATRE will shed a spotlight on the diverse ecosystem of theatre. These 50 people are only a snapshot. I urge you to create your own video so we can stand together and show the value of what we do each and every day. Also, the TCG book we’re spotlighting this week as a critical piece of American theatre is Unbalancing Acts by Richard Foreman, who founded the Ontological- Hysteric Theatre in New York City in 1968. Read more here.
As the debt ceiling debate continues, the House Interior Appropriations Bill, which includes funding for the NEA, has gone to the House Floor today. We expect amendments to further cut and/or eliminate the Agency. It is now critical to contact your Members of Congress to avert further NEA cuts. Since the House is now controlled by Republicans, it is especially important for those of you in the districts of moderate Republicans to impress upon them the importance of NEA and state arts council support and how it helps you better serve your communities. Let them know how many people you employ, how many audience members and students you serve and what would be lost without public funding for the arts.