Last week, I was at the annual Grantmakers in the Arts Conference, where the theme of the meeting was Embracing the Velocity of Change. There were important discussions about the rapid demographic shifts in our nation, the “hybridity” in the creation of art, the growth of diverse and community-based art and the importance of appropriate capitalization for arts organizations. Marc Bamuthi Joseph, acclaimed educator, essayist and performer, gave a keynote in which he cited the collective value that can be created through the “critical adjacency” of artists and arts organizations in communities. He also spoke very practically about the continuing importance of the basics, remarking that, in addition to the art, “audience development plus fiscal health equals a healthy arts field.” Also at the Conference, the NEA and the Knight Foundation announced the finalists in the Community Arts Journalism Challenge, and I was pleased to see that Barrington Stage Company’s i-Critic booth—which was developed, in part, through TCG’s New Generations: Future Audiences program—is being adapted into a mobile i-Critic Detroit booth. If you are interested in reading more about the conversations at the GIA meeting, check out the blog posts, and while on the site, you can also read a report released last week by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. It puts forth what it considers to be troubling inequities in how private philanthropic dollars are allocated, and it is generating much discussion.
While in California, I had the chance to visit Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s new offices and production center, which unites the majority of staff under one roof for the first time in the theatre’s history. Their new interdepartmental adjacencies are bringing about numerous anticipated—and unanticipated—benefits. They are also able to imagine new ways of opening up their facility in the context of a more extended sense of community partnership in West Berkeley. That project was one of the original recipients of ArtPlace funding. I also visited Z Space and the Joe Goode Performance Group’s studio located at the Project Artaud complex. While their spaces are relatively new, they are located in a long-standing artist complex that, for decades, has provided the opportunity for inter-dependence among artists and their work. It was also lovely to spend time with Jon Moscone and Mark Valdez, two TCG board members based on the west coast.
We will be touching on some of the themes I mentioned above at the Fall Forum on Governance (November 11-13), where we’ll delve into how board and staff can strategize to advance their organizations on multiple fronts. We will think about how we define our assets—specifically our human, artistic and financial assets. In a session on artistic assets on Sunday, playwright and TCG board member, Lydia R. Diamond will read selections from her play Stick Fly, which has been produced at many of our TCG member theatres. She will be joined by director Kenny Leon, who directed the production at Arena Stage and is also directing it on Broadway. After the readings, Kenny and Lydia will take part in a panel discussion with Jenny Allen, board president of the Contemporary American Theater Festival, moderated by Ed Sobel, associate artistic director of the Arden Theatre Company, and will discuss the process for developing new plays and the best practices of engaging trustees in artistic conversations. Find out more about the agenda and register now!
Our latest I AM THEATRE video is of writer and director Young Jean Lee. Called “a rising star” by the New York Times, she has written and directed eight shows in New York with Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company and toured her work to over 20 cities around the world. TCG has published a number of her plays in two volumes—Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Other Plays and The Shipment/LEAR. She is currently under commission from Plan B/Paramount Pictures, Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In the video, Young Jean Lee talks about the moment she was completely honest with herself and realized she wanted to be a playwright—not knowing anything about playwriting or about contemporary plays. I hope you’ll check out her video. Also, if you’re interested in Young Jean Lee’s work, as part of our 50th Anniversary, she will be a part of a playwright conversation in New York on October 24. Joined by David Adjmi (Stunning and Other Plays), and Tarell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays), they will each read selections from their work and participate in a conversation moderated by David Cote, theatre editor at Time Out New York. The evening, in partnership with the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC and WQXR, will be available as a live video webcast. Visit our website for more information, and read our Julie Haverkate’s take on the playwrights’ work here.
This week’s featured book, as part of our 50 Years, 50 Books, is Women in American Theatre. Noted educator and theatre historian Helen Krich Chinoy (1922-2010) and Linda Walsh Jenkins’s co-authored this groundbreaking study of the history and influence on women in the American theatre. This vital work brought to the forefront important founders of the American theatre movement such as Susan Glaspell, Cheryl Crawford and many others whose stories had been neglected over the years. TCG published the second and third editions of this collection of interviews and essays that explores the complete spectrum of women’s contributions to the field and acts as a standard textbook in university curriculum.
Last, but not least, the latest round of our Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships was announced this week. Check out these two articles about the fellowships—one in Playbill and one in the Los Angeles Times.