Theatre Communications Group

Our Mission

To strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, was founded in 1961 with a grant from the Ford Foundation to foster communication among professional, community, and university theatres. Today, TCG's constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to over 700 Member Theatres and Affiliate organizations and more than 12,000 individuals nationwide. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through our conferences, events, research, and communications; grants approximately $2 million per year to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute, connecting its constituents to the global theatre community. TCG is the nation's largest independent publisher of dramatic literature, with 15 Pulitzer Prizes for Best Play on our booklist; it also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field, and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre.

In 2005, TCG received the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre in recognition of its impact on the national field. TCG and its Member Theatres are major contributors to the American theatre sector, which employs more than 139,000 people, produces over 210,000 performances each year, and contributes over $2.1 billion to the U.S. economy annually. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, TCG is led by executive director Teresa Eyring and governed by a national board of directors representing the theatre field.

Networking and Knowledge-Building

By providing a range of training, communications, research, and networking opportunities, TCG harnesses the knowledge of the theatre field for the collective whole. Member theatres are crucial to this effort and participate through convenings such as the TCG National Conference held in a different host city each year; the annual Fall Forum on Governance; and teleconferences for theatre leaders, trustees, administrators, educators, and artists. TCG Member Theatres also share in research studies including the annual Fiscal Survey/Theatre Facts; salary, education, and governance surveys; and snapshot surveys such as "Taking Your Fiscal Pulse." TCG continues to provide reports and surveys to stakeholders, including funders, government officials, the press, and general public, that offer insight into the state of the field and promote greater understanding of our issues and awareness of the incredible variety, excellence, and depth of our art form. As a growing number of our Member Theatres seek to network and share artistry with colleagues around the globe, TCG is at the forefront with international initiatives and support services.

Grantmaking

Through a series of philanthropic partnerships, TCG distributes more than $2 million in grants each year to theatres and individuals. By making funds available to organizations, individual artists, and administrators, TCG is able to provide development opportunities for a growing body of professionals and help build and connect a new generation of practitioners for the field. Current programs include Audience (R)Evolution, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships; the Rising Leaders of Color Program; and the Leadership U[niversity] Program and the international program Global Connections, both funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Please visit our Grants at a Glance page for more information.

Publishing

TCG Books has published the work of more than 235 playwrights and other theatre professionals in single volumes and anthologies, and sold over 2.5 million books since emerging as a publisher in 1984. Its authors boast numerous Pulitzer Prizes and Tony Awards for Best Play or Book of a Musical and one Nobel Prize for Literature, in addition to countless OBIEs, Drama Desk awards, and other national and international prizes. TCG also serves as the exclusive U.S. distributor for Playwrights Canada Press of Toronto, Padua Playwrights Press of Los Angeles, New York publishers League of Professional Theatre Women, PAJ Publications, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications and Playscripts, and London publishers Nick Hern Books, Aurora Metro Publications, and Oberon Books. TCG Books now represents over 1,600 titles.

As a publisher of new plays and emerging playwrights, TCG Books has a dual objective: to bring new literary voices to public attention and to cultivate individual relationships with our playwrights that nurture their careers. TCG is committed to keeping its playwrights in print.

American Theatre magazine is the must-read periodical about not-for-profit professional theatre. The country's leading arts journalists as well as top professionals from the field contribute to the pages of American Theatre, published ten times each year, with five of the issues containing an entire new playscript. Each fall, the magazine publishes a complete schedule of every production taking place that season at Member Theatres across the country.

Among TCG's other publications are ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts, and online resources such as special reports and the Membership Directory.

Field-Wide Leadership

TCG takes its leadership responsibility seriously, initiating and participating in a number of programs to advance its membership and the field overall. As a founding member of the Performing Arts Alliance, TCG leads federal advocacy efforts that have helped guard and increase NEA funding, protect the full scope and value of the charitable tax deduction, and improve the timeliness of visa processing. TCG is currently working to ensure continued access to white spaces for wireless technologies and to include individual artists and administrators in Congressional health care proposals. Through the Performing Arts Alliance, TCG members (organizational and individual) receive regular updates and advocacy alerts on key issues affecting theatre. Every year, TCG sends a theatre delegation to Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, organizing Hill visits with theatres' Congressional representatives.

TCG and the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (the Lab), based in Washington, DC at Georgetown University, developed the Global Theater Initiative (GTI) over the course of 2015, and launched it officially in February 2016. By combining the unique reach of TCG’s international programming with the Lab’s distinctive experience in humanizing global politics through the power of performance, GTI strengthens, nurtures, and promotes global citizenship and international collaboration in the U.S. professional and educational theatre field. It also honors and intersects with the work so many theatre colleagues have invested in cross-cultural exchange and understanding.

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Our Membership

From 15 theatres sitting around a table in 1961, TCG's membership today has grown to over 500 theatres in 48 states and territories, along with the District of Columbia; over 12,000 individual members and affiliated trustees; and over 225 affiliated universities, funders, and other businesses. TCG Member Theatres represent a broad spectrum of aesthetic and cultural viewpoints, organizational structures, budget sizes, and missions and together are responsible for much of the vibrant work being produced in America's theatres today. While many of the largest theatres in the country are TCG members, over half of our member theatres have operating budgets of $1 million or less, with 35% of them under $500,000.

TCG celebrates the incredible diversity in the American theatre and strives for ever greater inclusion.

Our History

As regional theatres throughout America began to proliferate in the 1950s and 60s, W. McNeil Lowry, director of the arts and humanities program at the Ford Foundation in New York, noted a lack of communication and cooperation that seemed to impede the movement's growth. Lowry convened a group of theatre professionals and educators to discuss the possibility of a central office that could be run by representatives from the field.

In 1961, the Ford Foundation set aside $244,000 over a four-year period to meet this goal, and Theatre Communications Group was established "to improve communication among professional, community and university theatres in the United States. The group will facilitate the exchange of artists and other theatre personnel and enable members to study each others' methods, with the ultimate aim of making the theatre more professional in training, creation, and production."

Headquartered in Pittsburgh at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, the original members of TCG included 15 theatres (both professional and community) and nine university drama departments. Miss Pat Brown, founding artistic director of Magnolia Theatre in Long Beach, Calif., served as director. Founding members still active in TCG today include Alley Theatre in Houston; Arena Stage in Washington, DC; Cleveland Play House; Milwaukee Repertory Theater; and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

Over its first decade, TCG was led by Michael Mabry, Joseph Zeigler, and Hartney Arthur. In 1972, Lowry asked Peter Zeisler, then TCG board president and a co-founder of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and founder of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), to become executive director. Zeisler remained in that post for 23 years, and under his leadership, along with that of deputy director Lindy Zesch, many of TCG's current programs and services were created, including the National Conference, TCG Books, American Theatre magazine, and the American Arts Alliance, now called the Performing Arts Alliance.

Zeisler retired in 1995, and John Sullivan served as executive director until 1997. Ben Cameron was executive director from 1998 to 2006, serving with managing director Joan Channick. In 1999, TCG became the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute, incorporating an increasingly global perspective into all of its activities. TCG was awarded the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre in 2005, in recognition of our leadership in the field.

Today, TCG is led by executive director Teresa Eyring, who came to the organization in 2007. TCG continues to pursue its mission to strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre by creating new ways of harnessing and delivering information to the field; investing in leadership and capacity development for artists, administrators, and organizations; and leveraging the stories of the field to build greater public awareness of and appreciation for live theatre in America.

TCG's vision is to be the leader and innovator in assembling, contextualizing, and disseminating knowledge to strengthen and energize U.S. theatres and practitioners; to be the quintessential purveyor of facts and stories that capture public, funder, and media interest in theatre; to be an electrical source for artists, providing funding, networking, visibility, and publication opportunities; and to foster conditions for the emergence of a new level of international and intercultural awareness and cooperation through theatre. We look forward to getting there with you.

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