Teresa’s Weekly Update: Artist and Institution Edition

by Teresa Eyring

in National Conference

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Did the 2012 National Conference in Boston actually end? You might be forgiven for thinking otherwise this past week. In Los Angeles, Latino theatre leaders used Conference 2.0 to help organize an in-person meeting to keep the conversation going, posting notes from that meeting in the Latinos in Theatre Group. This organizing, resource-sharing and knowledge-building activity is exactly how we hope you’ll use Groups on 2.0, so make sure to set up your profile by emailing Gus Schulenburg.

That knowledge-sharing spirit is contagious, with Jacqueline E. Lawton posting reflections on her blog about her experience as a Young Leader of Color at the Conference. She is also posting interviews with some of her fellow YLCers, so be sure to check out the series and get to know these extraordinary young theatre-makers. A lively conversation was also sparked on the ArtsJournal blog, Jumper, where Diane Ragsdale posted, “When did being pro-artist make one anti-institution?” Her remarks were in response to Huntington Theatre Company’s Michael Maso’s acceptance speech as recipient of the Theatre Practitioner Award. Michael posted a thoughtful response on the TCG Circle, acknowledging the need for a civil and serious dialogue to “more fully integrate artists into our institutions.”

TCG is deeply invested in advancing that conversation, and last year conducted The State of the Artists survey and a series of round-table discussions. Those results were a centerpiece of the 2011 National Conference, and the findings were summarized in Celia Wren’s article for American Theatre, “Dissolving the Barriers.” This research not only creates the opportunity to study the changing dynamics of artists’ experiences—much as Theatre Facts allows us to measure fiscal trends—but the findings directly influenced our strategic realignment towards serving theatre people. As Wren concluded, “If everyone puts a premium on honesty and transparency, solutions may be within reach.”

Solutions may indeed be within reach, but all of us will need to stretch out of our comfort zones in order to grasp them. Help us do that by engaging in these conversations, and keep this movement that we’re trying to model headed in the right direction!