“As we experience the enormous pain and loss that is felt by so many victims of violence in our city’s neighborhoods and around our world every day, we renew our commitment to creating theatrical work that builds liberation and a non-violent movement against all oppression.”
-Abe Rybeck, The Theater Offensive
Yesterday, as I was getting ready to share my weekly update focused on Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, I heard the news about the bombings at the Boston marathon. For a few hours, our attention turned to checking in with our Boston-area theatres, to see if everyone was OK and if anyone needed our help. Among the many moving replies of grief and resilience we received back, the words above from Abe Rybeck seemed important to share. Our hearts go out to everyone in Boston reeling from this terrible tragedy, and we hope that we can be of some help in the days of recovery to come.
I do still want to report back from our wonderful visit our nation’s capital for Arts Advocacy Day, so here is that original post in full:
When I was a youngster imagining my future, I never expected that I’d find myself one day in the Cannon House Office Building in D.C., watching a famous hard rock drummer jam with an even more famous classical cellist. But there I was last week, along with our Arts Advocacy Day delegation, watching a jam session erupt between Guns n’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
It was a perfect example of the “edge effect”, a theme that Ma would later explore while giving the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy to celebrate Arts Advocacy Day. Inspired by how the greatest biodiversity in nature exists in the zones between two ecological systems, Ma made a compelling case for diversity as central to innovation in the arts. Watch his speech here—Ma begins around 23 minutes in—and then watch the edge effect in action at 35 minutes, when jookin’ star Lil Buck dances to Ma playing Saint-Saëns’ The Swan. That intersection of diversity and artistic innovation will be explored at our National Conference in Dallas, and I want to alert you that the early bird registration discount has been extended to EOD Monday, April 22.
Later in his address, Ma performed with a group of injured U.S. veterans from the Musicorps program, associated with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The following day I went to Walter Reed to participate in the National Summit: “Arts, Health and Well-Being Across the Military Continuum.” I was honored to present information on TCG’s Blue Star Theatres program, which will be featured in a D.C. press event this week at Arena Stage. We currently have 85 participating theatres, and if you would like to get on board, email Laurie Baskin today.
I was consistently inspired by the receptiveness of our elected officials: from breakfast with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), to seeing Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) light up when fellow Rhode Islander Curt Columbus walked into his office; everyone we met with was enthusiastic about the importance of cultural organizations to communities. We were also thrilled to hear from the newly-formed Congressional STEAM caucus, led by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Aaron Schock (R-IL), and their focus on putting the “A” for Arts in our STEM-centric education system.
Finally, I want to thank again our Arts Advocacy Day delegation: James Bundy, Yale Repertory Theatre; Curt Columbus, Trinity Repertory Company; Marshall Jones, Crossroads Theatre Company; Tim Shields, McCarter Theatre and TCG staffers Laurie Baskin and Alissa Moore. You renew my belief in TCG’s vision of a better world for theatre, and a better world because of theatre!