What Do We Mean by Crossing Borders?

by Dafina McMillan

in National Conference

Post image for What Do We Mean by Crossing Borders?

(Photo by Dafina McMillan of U.S.-Mexico border at Playas de Tijuana. Learn more about the 2014 TCG National Conference: Crossing Borders. Submit a Conference session/speaker proposal here.)

… the part or edge of a surface or area that forms its outer boundary.

… something that indicates bounds or limits; a limiting or bounding line.

What do we mean when we say Crossing Borders? The literal meaning as we’ll cross our national border to Tijuana, only 20 minutes away from San Diego, expanding our programming and engagement with theatre makers in Mexico, yes. We’ll hold our third in-person Diversity & Inclusion Institute meeting in Tijuana as well as host an all-day Pre-Conference there dedicated to international collaboration and cultural exchange. Hopefully we’ll break down some of the perceptions about Tijuana along the way.

TJ-Cecut Cultural Center

(Photo by Dafina McMillan. Pictured: the Tijuana Cecut Cultural Center.)

But what excites us equally is the framework by which Crossing Borders allows us to address some pressing issues and questions for our field:

{Art | People}  {Survive | Thrive}  {Theatre | Technology}  {Conflict | Confluence}

Within these programmatic arcs, there are borders we’ll cross in order to achieve a goal and reach another destination, like moving from surviving to thriving or getting past conflict to a point of confluence. However, there are also philosophical borders we’ll seek to remove so two entities can better flow together, interact, intersect and ultimately not be disparate, like between art and people as well as theatre and technology.

What boundaries do we need to cross to engage with communities, and put audiences at the center, truly? What knowledge and shift in thinking is needed to ensure artists and institutions are financially vital? How can we radically transform how we use technology to make the art, do our work better, and share resources with others? How do we bust open those taboo topics, the elephants in the room, so that we can tear down perceived barriers between departments and even address perceived dichotomies like that of race and gender?

Beyond lifting up and tackling these questions, we’ll keep our core values front and center—at the heart are diversity & inclusion and artistry. Building on TCG’s longstanding commitment to diversity, and our current Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, we’re taking the next step on advancing these values by integrating them into every aspect of our programming. While we’ll continue to offer sessions that directly address the challenges and opportunities of diversifying our theatres, we’ll strive to practice inclusion in every session.

Regarding, artistry… this is a theatre conference, right? So how can we harness the art-making practices and risk-taking spirit we bring to our separate stages in our National Conference together? Leading with this value will not only make the Conference more creative and productive, but also more energized and fun!

SO, we want to hear from you. What session ideas do you have? What people are you dying to hear from? Or perhaps you don’t have a completely formed idea yet… but just want to submit a loose idea. There’s a place for that too. Please take a moment to submit an RFP here – the deadline is December 20th.

Through our past Conference themes of Model the Movement and Learn Do Teach, TCG has hoped to kindle a shared sense of responsibility to the not-for-profit movement we all share. We want to build on that spirit and empower every theatre person with access and agency to not only shape their own journey, but better the Conference experience of their fellow attendees.

So please do share your ideas, and save the dates—June 19-21, 2014! We hope you’ll be willing to move with us… as we cross perceived and literal borders. Leading up to the Conference, during our days together and beyond, I hope we’ll continue to push through our own limitations and boundaries in the process—to expand our thinking and strive to make our theatre movement even stronger.

San Diego Hilton Bay Front

(Photo by Dafina McMillan. Pictured: The view from the San Diego Hilton Bayfront.)


Dafina McMillan joined TCG in August 2010 and serves as the director of communications & conferences. In this role, Dafina oversees the overall internal and external communications strategy – as well as programs TCG’s convenings, including the TCG National Conference, which gathers more than 1,000 theatre practitioners annually.  In addition, Dafina is leading TCG’s multi-year Diversity & Inclusion Initiative as part of TCG’s strategic plan. Prior to joining TCG, Dafina served as the associate managing director of Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, MN, where she managed the day-to-day operations for the theatre, including communications, fundraising and working directly with the board of directors. While previously in New York, she was an account supervisor at global public relations agency GCI Group (now Cohn & Wolfe) and implemented communication strategies for Fortune 500 companies. Dafina has served as a speech writer, led executive visibility and corporate social responsibility campaigns, supported brand launches, and worked with national media to secure online, print and broadcast coverage for her clients.  She also consulted with the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts on marketing and community engagement initiatives. Dafina is an alumna of The John F. Kennedy Center’s International Arts Management Fellowship in Washington, D.C. Originally from Houston, TX, she received her bachelor of science degree in public relations from the University of Texas at Austin.