“To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold.”
-Archibald MacLeish, New York Times, December 25, 1968
There we were, gathered together for Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, when a call went up that the space shuttle Discovery was circling the Capitol. We climbed out onto to the ledge outside the window of Representative Lou Barletta‘s (PA-11) Congressional office. The shuttle clung to the back of a 747 like a child getting a piggy-back ride from a parent, the final journey in the 27 year history of this beloved NASA spaceship.
There is a special yearning that space travel still evokes in all of us, a longing made of more than just our curiosity about the stars. As Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell said, “We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth.”
So it is with arts advocacy—we advocate for the arts so that through the arts, we may work towards a more compassionate and creative planet. It does make a difference. Congressman Barletta was a Tea Party candidate opposed to federal funding for arts until a discussion with constituent Gerry Stropnicky of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble changed his mind. Laurie Baskin’s post on the TCG Circle details all of our adventures and includes an action alert for you to get involved.
Another gravity-defying moment occurred this week as Quiara Alegría Hudes began teaching her 1pm class in playwriting at Wesleyan University. At around the same time, the announcement went out that her play about an Iraq war veteran, Water by the Spoonful, had won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, making her the first Latina playwright to win. She kept teaching as congratulatory voicemail messages and emails piled high, and it wasn’t until 4pm that she discovered the good news. TCG published her play, 26 Miles, in the July/August issue of American Theatre, and the production of Water by the Spoonful at Hartford Stage received a 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award.
TCG’s Young Leaders of Color program seeks to empower more of these firsts (and seconds and thirds) by gathering groups of young theatre professionals of color from around the U.S. at TCG’s National Conferences to engage in a dialogue about the new generation of leadership. TCG Member Theatre staff may nominate up to three exceptionally talented young leaders of color, so please click here to learn more.
Artistic innovators may not land us on the moon, but they can help us explore new constellations of the human experience. That spirit—to boldly go where no theatre has gone before—is at the center of our MetLife/TCG A-ha! Program. The deadline for 2012 applications is Tuesday, May 1 (midnight EST), so visit the grants section of our website to apply for either the Think It or Do It grants.
Finally, as we look to the stars, we must remember to care for this “small and blue and beautiful” rock we all ride together. TCG is partnering with the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts on their Sustainability in Theater Conference, April 30-May 1. TCG Member Theatre staff can attend in-person at a discounted rate, and any Members in New York City are encouraged to join us at the TCG offices to engage in the virtual component of the Conference. Email Gus Schulenburg if you are interested in attending.