Teresa’s Weekly Update: Our Changing World Edition

by Teresa Eyring

in Fall Forum,Weekly Update

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This season of giving is also a season of change. The election gave us our first Hindu Representative in Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); our first Asian-American Senator, Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii); Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) became the first openly LGBT woman elected to the Senate; Mark Takano (D-CA) became the first openly LGBT person of color elected as a Representative; Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state all voted in favor of marriage equality; record numbers of women were elected to Congress; and yes, our first African-American president was re-elected after squaring off against the first Mormon presidential candidate.

Many commentators linked these historic firsts to major demographic and cultural shifts in our country, a theme we explored from November 9-11 in New York City at the 2012 TCG Fall Forum on Governance: Leading the Charge. Focused on diversity and inclusion, Leading the Charge may have been our most action-oriented Fall Forum yet. Playwright Katori Hall kicked off the event with a moving keynote on her experience as an African-American female playwright; demographer and social activist Angela Glover Blackwell took us from her youth in the segregated South to 2042, when America will be a majority-minority country; we looked at models for diversity both within and without the field; and led by facilitator Carmen Morgan, we broke into Learning Groups to unpack our own biases and move from discussion into action.

Achieving true diversity in our theatre movement will take leadership from everyone, so I strongly encourage you to join the ongoing conversation on Conference 2.0. You can find the resources and materials from the Fall Forum in our Leading the Charge Group on 2.0, and we’ll be sharing videos of the plenary sessions next week. Leading the Charge was just the beginning of us activating the diversity focus of our new Strategic Plan, and we’ll be sharing more information about those initiatives shortly.

Audience engagement is one of the other pillars of that Plan, and Member Theatres should by now have received a survey on your audience engagement and community development practices. Please complete the survey as it’s imperative that we capture the widest breadth of engagement activities in the field! This survey is a part of our multi-phase Audience (R)Evolution program, and will be featured at the Audience (R)Evolution Convening in Philadelphia, February 20-22, 2013. All are welcome to apply and join the 150 theatre, arts and cultural professionals convening to exchange new models and best practices in audience engagement and community development.

These past two action-packed weeks also included a TCG board meeting and Salon event featuring National Conference-friend Paul D. Miller, AKA DJ Spooky, and actor Richard Thomas. Through it all, we have kept the theatres affected by Hurricane Sandy foremost in our thoughts. I want to remind you of our updated Disaster Management Resource page and TCG’s partnership with South Arts and ArtsReady, a web-based emergency preparedness platform available to Member Theatres at a 50% discount on the first year—use code TCGM12 here. We’ve also created a Disaster/Crisis Management Group on Conference 2.0 to share resources and host discussions for any theatre looking to recover from—or better prepare for—disasters of any kind. Email Gus Schulenburg to get started.