Teresa’s Weekly Update: Threshold Moment Edition

by Teresa Eyring

in Weekly Update

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TCG held its first ever GALA last Monday to celebrate our 50th anniversary. It was an opportunity to bring together friends, both old and new, and to honor the following organization and two individuals for their profound impact on the theatre community: the Shubert Foundation, which funds many, many theatres and dance companies around the country with unrestricted operating support; Judy Rubin, who chairs TCG’s National Council for the American Theatre and Playwrights Horizons; and Kenny Leon, the prolific director and artistic director of True Colors Theatre Company. Special thanks go to Sally Struthers and Jen Cody for co-hosting the event.

The value of this event went beyond the funds raised to support our programs. It allowed us to celebrate what TCG has come to represent in its 50-year history—a lively crossroads for our wide and diverse theatre community. We shared some of the work being done in our theatres through three production excerpts from Super Fly, Hands on a Hard Body (La Jolla Playhouse) and Giant (Signature Theatre, VA, Dallas Theatre Center and the Public Theater).

Inevitably, anniversaries are also a threshold moment, an opportunity to look back at what we carry with us to decide what to keep, and what to leave behind. It is perhaps in our ephemeral natures as theatre-makers to travel light, but the American Theatre Archive Project is concerned that we may be losing critical pieces of our past. I encourage you to learn more about their work, and then take their short survey about your archival practices.

Kevin Moore and I recently attended the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) meeting in Costa Mesa. As always, it was extremely enjoyable to visit with representatives of the 70+ theatres that comprise this collective bargaining association, currently presided over by Tim Shields of McCarter Theatre Center. One of the topics was fundraising, and I was reminded of the 2010 Survey of High Net Worth Philanthropy (PDF) prepared by Merrill Lynch and the Bank of America. This study includes information on attitudes about the effectiveness of not-for-profit organizations and on the priorities of major donors, and is well worth the read.

Having the LORT meeting in California was especially propitious, as TCG learned that a California State Assemblyman was poised to introduce a Bill that would impose a sales tax on the purchase of theatre tickets. Other forms of entertainment, such as concerts and sporting events, were exempted. TCG joined with Theatre Bay Area, the LA Stage Alliance and California Citizens for the Arts in communicating with our Member Theatres in California to oppose the Bill. I’m thrilled to report that, due to the overwhelming response from theatres and other arts organizations, the sponsor withdrew the Bill. Arts advocacy can be successful if everyone raises their voices at the local, state and federal level. To that end, TCG will be holding a Leadership Teleconference titled Leveraging Federal Policy: Successful Case Studies from the Field on May 22nd from 2:00-3:15pm (EST). Visit our website for more information and to register.

We must continue to advocate together to ensure that we leave a better theatre world behind for the next generation of artists to inherit. On that note, I leave you with Marcus Gardley’s I AM THEATRE video, where he shares how the collaborative spirit of theatre moved him to become a poet-playwright.