Teresa’s Weekly Update: Revolutionary World Edition

by Teresa Eyring

in Weekly Update

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“It is a revolutionary world we live in, and this generation at home and around the world has had thrust upon it a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived.”
-Robert F. Kennedy

As we approach the end of 2011, we look back at a year full of revolutionary tides and future shock. The possibility of change rippled from Sidi Bouzid to Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park, as the Protester (Time magazine’s Person of the Year) took on that burden of responsibility to advocate for a free, just and equitable world.

That advocacy reached our theatre field, with Holly Sidford’s recent report, Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change, shining a light on inequities in arts funding. In my post for the Grantmakers in the Arts online forum, I was inspired by their question, “Are there ways that major institutions with large staffs and resources can be funded to benefit marginalized communities?,” to share how theatres are already thinking this way. As we advocate for changes in funding structures, we must also champion models of inclusion currently making an impact. Please read the post, and share some of your own models.

2011 was also a year of environmental crisis, with the Japan earthquakes and Hurricane Irene among the natural disasters challenging theatres at home and abroad. Two weeks ago, I wrote about Shinsai: Theaters for Japan, a nationwide event to support theatres in Japan. Today, I’d like to point your attention to our upcoming Leadership Teleconference, Disaster Management: Lessons Learned from the Field. What should your theatre do when disaster strikes? Participating staff from TCG Member Theatres will hear from an expert in post-crisis sustainability, as well as first hand experiences from theatre leaders who’ve led their theatres through disaster to recovery.

Leadership in a time of change will also be a theme of our TCG/American Express Leadership Boot Camp. This two-day leadership development program will bring together fifteen pairs of leaders from TCG Member Theatres to foster intergenerational dialogue, explore effective methods of communication, increase participants’ self-awareness for personal and professional growth and align vision with strategy. Visit our website to learn more and apply. The deadline is Friday, January 6.

The ideal of communal leadership to overcome obstacles takes a humorous turn in Daniel Gookin’s I AM THEATRE video. As master electrician at Long Wharf Theatre, he speaks warmly of the challenges of their nearly 50 year old space, saying, “We have had to come together to create the magic that we do on our stage, and I think that’s why a lot of people really enjoy working at Long Wharf Theatre.”

As 2011 draws to a close, I encourage us all to imagine new ways we can come together to create that magic. Nearly halfway through our 50th Anniversary, looking both backwards and into an uncertain future, Robert Kennedy’s call to come together still rings true:

“Like it or not, we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history…our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live.”