Round 3, Cycle A: Exploration Grant Recipients
Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington, KY
Access to patrons, regardless of ability to pay, speaks directly to the heart of Lexington Children’s Theatre’s (LCT) mission. As such, LCT will examine the sliding scale model of ticketing in order to provide greater access to programming across its community. The theatre currently employs a “Pay What You Can” model for a single performance for each production and would like to reimagine this model by consulting with other theatres and nonprofit organizations both within its community and beyond.
Target Margin Theater, Brooklyn, NY
To increase equity and accessibility, and understand the challenges of multigenerational community engagement, Target Margin Theater is partnering with the social service agency The Center for Family Life (CFL) to support a series of “Listening Sessions” with local youth and parents in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Activities will take place at both of their spaces and all participants will receive an honorarium, travel reimbursement, and be provided food and onsite childcare (if necessary).
The TEAM (Theatre of the Emerging American Moment), Brooklyn, NY
The TEAM will travel to Cumberland Gap, TN, in March, 2019 to participate in "Crossing Roots: A Rural-Urban Theater Workshop" hosted by Cardinal Cross in partnership with Arts in the Gap. The workshop will engage local multigenerational participants in devised theater-making in exercises exploring memory and identity as embodied traits we carry and perform, and in intercultural creative exchange as a tool for transforming communities. The TEAM will lead a “Devising Within a Democracy” workshop, and will participate in workshops at sites around Appalachia. Cardinal Cross was founded by Amy Brooks and Hilarie Rose Spangler, and was developed in 2017 under the name "Crossroads Lab" within Appalshop's award-winning theater wing, Roadside. The TEAM will learn from Cardinal Cross and partner artists' history of multigenerational audience engagement, and also will experiment with devising new theatrical material with communities around the country.
The Audience (R)Evolution Exploration Grants selection panel included: Chad Bauman, managing director, Milwaukee Repertory Theater; Freedome Bradley-Ballentine, director of arts engagement at The Old Globe; Nikki Toombs, director of education, Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company.
Round 2: Cohort Grant Recipients
Youth Speaks, Campo Santo, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA) will present the Life is Living Festival in DeFremery Park, West Oakland. With over 7,000 intergenerational participants, over 50 local artists, and more than 50 community organizations, this community-based arts festival celebrates the vibrant cultural history of Oakland. By increasing support for artists, cross-sector partnerships, art installations, and expanded live programming, the cohort will engage a broad sector of community groups in order to bring diverse audiences to performances and high-quality artistic experiences directly into underserved communities across the Bay Area.
People's Light (Malvern, PA), Delaware Theatre Company (Wilmington, DE), McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ), Montgomery Theater (Souderton, PA), Theatre Horizon (Norristown, PA), and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (Center Valley, PA) will work with consultants Dr. Roger Ideishi, Elizabeth Gardner Roan, and Robert Smythe to address accessibility and inclusivity needs across their shared region by offering 10 to 12 Relaxed Performances. These specially adjusted, sensory-friendly performances are designed to create a theatre experience for individuals with a wide range of sensory, learning, and communication differences, as well as their families and friends.
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Webster Arts, and Springboard (St. Louis) will engage middle-school students and residents of Meacham Park, one of the oldest African-American communities in Missouri, in a visual and performing arts project that will capture the history of, and give voice to, a key and vibrant part of the greater St. Louis community. The project "Connecting Community through the Arts" will bring together these two populations with commissioned artists to chronicle the living history of Meacham Park and share that story with the entire community.
Huntington Theatre Company, Lyric Stage Company, and SpeakEasy Stage Company (Boston, MA) will collaborate on the expansion and further development of the “Huntington Community Membership Initiative” among all three organizations. The expansion of this initiative, which reduces economic impediments to theatre and builds audiences more reflective of Boston's diverse demographics, will broaden the program's reach to organizations affiliated with the recipient companies, and offer a wider range of opportunities for its members.
Ten Thousand Things Company (Minneapolis, MN), along with Delaware Shakespeare Festival (Wilmington, DE), and The Old Globe (San Diego, CA), will investigate various ways of working with artists to deepen non-traditional audiences' engagement with the plays and build stronger relationships with the dozens of communities for which each company performs. Using Ten Thousand Things’ model of bringing professional theatre directly to audiences on the margins of society, the three theatres will hire artists to investigate, create, and test tactics to increase participation and engagement of non-traditional audiences through eight tours over the two-year period.
Imagination Stage, DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative, Sitar Arts Center, and Spanish Education Development (SED) Center (Washington, DC) will explore parent engagement through the arts in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, a socioeconomically diverse and largely Latino community. As Imagination Stage prepares to open a space in this neighborhood in 2018, this project will help the cohort better understand the neighborhood’s unique cultural dynamics, forge valuable partnerships, and address the specific barriers parents are facing in this community regarding their engagement and participation in the arts.
The Public Theater (New York, NY), Dallas Theater Center (Dallas, TX), and Seattle Repertory Theatre (Seattle, WA) will work to create a scalable, replicable model of The Public’s program Public Works in other major U.S. cities. Using theatre to create deep, sustained relationships between arts organizations and the communities they serve, Public Works creates ambitious works of participatory theatre through long-term partnerships with community organizations.
Artists Repertory Theatre, Disjecta Contemporary Arts Center, and Hand2Mouth Theatre (Portland, OR) will draw upon their collective audience-development knowledge and programming to increase participation from Portland's thriving Maker community, as well as those who purchase their products. This project will work from the assumption that Maker-affiliated groups exhibit practices and values that align with the live theatre and arts experience.
The Talking Band (New York, NY), Antioch College (Yellow Springs, OH), Telluride Theater (Telluride, CO), and Virginia Tech University (Blacksburg, VA) will develop the “Marcellus Shale Project for Civically-Engaged Theater” (The Marcellus Shale Project), which uses theatre as a rallying point for conversation among artists, activists, and communities affected by environmental issues around the country. This program is designed to draw affected communities deeper into the experience of making theatre, and into local and national conversation about the environmental issues that concern them.
The Audience (R)Evolution Cohort Grants selection panel included David Ira Goldstein, artistic director, Arizona Theatre Company; Marcia Pendleton, founder, Walk Tall Girl Productions; Jesus Reyes, program manager, community partnerships, Center Theatre Group; Devon Smith, founder, Measure; Robert Sweibel, director of marketing & audience development, Roundabout Theatre Company; and Laura Zabel, executive director, Springboard for the Arts.
Round 2, Cycle A: Travel Grant Recipients
Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, GA
Christopher Moses (The Dan Reardon Director of Education/Associate Artistic Director) and Michael Winn (Community Engagement Manager) will travel to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Cornerstone Theater Company, and La Jolla Playhouse to research new community engagement. These strategies will be developed to cultivate new audiences during the Alliance's 2017-2018 off-site season, when they will stage 12 productions in 12 venues across the city, making theatre in collaboration with and about the many communities that make up Atlanta.
Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Little Rock, AR
Allyson Pittman Gattin (Director of Communications and Marketing), Catherine L. Hughes (Board Chair), and Robert Hupp (Producing Artistic Director) will engage in peer-learning activities with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Cape Fear Regional Theatre, organizations that have an acknowledged track record of engaging with rural audiences that have little immediate access to theatre, as well as military families.
Imagination Stage, Bethesda, MD
As part of Imagination Stage's commitment to serve their local Latino community, Miriam Gonzales (Teaching Artist), Joanne Seelig (Director of Education), and Elena Velasco (Teaching Artist), will travel to CalArts and Center Theatre Group to learn about their successes in engaging with their communities and undertake training with Cornerstone Theatre Company to learn techniques of community engagement, story gathering, and performance. This work will deeply inform Imagination Stage's program, ¡Óyeme!, which provides creative outlets using culturally based, trauma-informed theatre to aid in the healing and assimilation of Central American refugee youth resettled in the organization’s community.
Penumbra Theatre Company, St. Paul, MN
Sarah Bellamy (Co-Artistic Director), Shannon Brunette (General Manager), and Stephanie Lein Walseth (Director of Inquiry) will create a cross-sector partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama to observe best practices in audience engagement and community development around issues of social justice and equity. For 39 years Penumbra has energized audiences around its theatrical offerings. Now as they look to advance the advocacy portion of their mission, they are seeking guidance from a pioneer in the field of human rights.
Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle, WA
Karen Rippel Chilcote (Director of Communications), Marya Sea Kaminski (Associate Artistic Director), and Melissa A. Husby (Director of Institutional Gifts) will visit The Public Theater to observe their strategies and practices in working with community partners and building organizational support in development and communications. Seattle Rep staff will also visit with Seema Sueko at Pasadena Playhouse to observe and study her Consensus Organizing model with partner communities and non-profits. This work is in support for their new engagement program, City Rep, which is based on The Public Theater’s Public Works program.
The grant applications were reviewed by an independent national panel of theatre professionals comprised of Doug Borwick, author and CEO, ArtsEngaged; Erika Mallin, Executive Director, Signature Theatre; and Brad Erickson, Executive Director, Theatre Bay Area.
Round 2, Cycle B: Travel Grant Recipients
The 5th Avenue Theatre (Seattle, WA) will send Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry and Director of Education and Outreach Orlando Morales to visit with leadership, actors, and staff from Deaf West Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, New York Deaf Theatre, National Theatre of the Deaf, and Roundabout Theatre. They will gather lessons learned when featuring deaf actors in performances and creating educational programming for Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing audiences, in preparation for The 5th's planned production of "Hunchback of Notre Dame" (June 2018), which will feature a deaf actor playing the lead role.
24th Street Theatre (Los Angeles, CA) will send a team to the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis and the Oregon Children's Theatre to learn first-hand strategies to increase audience engagement and attendance in the niche Theatre for Young Audiences market, with the goal of returning home with best practices on how to reach new families, retain families as on-going patrons, and foresee challenges in TYA programming.by learning about these organizations’ histories and trajectories as major institutions in the field of children's theatre.
Alley Theatre (Houston, TX) staff from their Education & Community Engagement and General Management department will visit CASIC, the Community Animation and Social Innovation Centre at Keele University in Staffordshire, England and the New Vic Theatre in New Castle in order to explore their methodology of knowledge co-creation and community engagement, entitled 'Cultural Animation'. The visit will allow the Alley to rethink its efforts in community development, specifically as they relate to El Zocalo, an upcoming long-term initiative to engage Houston's vast and vibrant Latinx majority.
Atlantic Theater Company (New York, NY) will send Associate Artistic Director Annie MacRae, Director of Marketing Claire Graves, and Manager of Institutional Giving Nick Luckenbaugh to London and meet with artistic, programmatic, and marketing leaders from the National Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre, and the Tricycle Theatre to discuss and observe each organization's audience engagement and community development endeavors. Information learned from this research trip will be vital in growing and enhancing community development and audience engagement programming at Atlantic – a leading non-profit institution operating in a large city with similar populations and potential theatergoing audiences to that of London.
The Children's Theatre Company (Minneapolis, MN) staff members will travel to Washington, DC to observe audience engagement strategies at Imagination Stage, CenterStage, and Arena Stage. Guided by the priorities of the company’s platform for access, diversity, and inclusion (ACT One), their goals are to return with an understanding of the investment these theatres are making to invite, welcome, and engage all audiences, and to incorporate the lessons learned into the organization’s next strategic plan.
Cleveland Play House (Cleveland, OH) will observe four organizations, two with expertise engaging persons with disabilities and two with expertise in engaging African-Americans to learn best practices in preparation for launching a comprehensive series of access & inclusion programs designed to bridge the gap between the demographics of their community and those who attend their performances.
Cleveland Public Theatre (Cleveland, OH) will connect Executive Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan and Director of Community Ensembles Faye Hargate with other artistic leaders across the country who are currently engaged with Arab-American and Middle Eastern populations to gather best practices for cultural engagement. This experience will help the organization adapt and replicate its current, successful model of artistic engagement with local Latinx artists, (“Teatro Publico de Cleveland”) with the goal of establishing a self-led, local ensemble of Arab-Americans and Middle Eastern artists who will create and perform at Cleveland Public Theatre.
Golden Thread Productions (San Francisco, CA) will send founding artistic director Torange Yeghiazarian to visit Pangea World Theatre, Mu Performing Arts, and the Arab American National Museum, all organizations who focus on serving communities of color, to observe, listen, and learn best practices to improve audience engagement at Golden Thread. This travel will work towards building a national coalition of theatres serving the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities.
Long Wharf Theatre (New Haven, CT) will connect Joshua Borenstein (Managing Director), Elizabeth Nearing (Community Engagement Manager), and Will Kneerim (Director of Employment and Education Services, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) to Seattle Rep and Arena Stage to observe, research, and experience their community engagement programming. They will learn best practices for teaching and engaging community members in participatory programming that will inform the expansion of Long Wharf Theatre's community engagement programming through partnerships with organizations that support refugees and individuals in substance abuse recovery during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
Mixed Blood Theatre Company (Minneapolis, MN) will send key staff and personnel to visit ArtsEmerson in Boston, Massachusetts. They will meet with the staff and leadership to learn about how the organization advances community/audience engagement with their theatre work and gain firsthand experience to explore how Mixed Blood can replicate ArtsEmerson’s best practices effectively and sustainably for both the organization and the communities it serves.
Northlight Theatre (Skokie, IL) will send selected staff to visit the Guthrie Theatre to learn best practices on developing civic-minded projects that connect art with diverse populations. In anticipation of its construction of a new theatre within the Evanston community, Northlight anticipates the visit will help them learn how to more intentionally connect with the many social service organizations, education centers, and arts organizations in the extremely diverse community.
Ping Chong & Company (New York, NY) will travel to three communities and three arts organizations in Alaska, to observe deeply rooted and culturally specific audience engagement strategies and to collaboratively design engagement approaches for their upcoming production “Where the Sea Breaks its Back” (working title), which will tour Alaska and the U.S. beginning fall 2017. Led and facilitated by PC+C Artistic Collaborator and Community Projects Associate Ryan Conarro, this observership and research and development period will allow the organization to create audience engagement models that integrate with presenting organizations' missions and the production’s aesthetics. This work will support the ongoing development of PC+C's long-range strategies for weaving audience engagement into future interdisciplinary performance works.
The Studio Theatre (Washington, DC) will send staff to visit ArtsBoston and its member organizations including A.R.T to explore research-driven strategies employed by Boston arts organizations following their work with Clarity Campaign Labs, a political campaign analytics firm. Studio hopes to explore how to use their own research from Clarity Campaign Labs to implement successful audience building strategies, increasing demand for the arts among younger, more inclusive audiences.
Su Teatro (Denver, CO) will send staff to Los Angeles Theater Center/Latino Theater Company (Los Angeles), Teatro Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (New York City) and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR), to investigate the unique strengths and challenges that influence the audience development strategies used by each theatre. Su Teatro seeks to expand the definition of mainstream theater by nurturing a truly diverse space for cultures to come together. Visits will reveal creative strategies to both broaden and deepen the commitment of audiences which the team will adapt to honor the complexity of Denver’s local community.
Trinity Repertory Company (Providence, RI) will build on their two-year relationship with Rhode Island Latino Arts by sending staff, artists and board members of both companies to visit two organizations creating theater at the intersection of Latinx and non-culturally specific work: Cleveland, OH's Cleveland Public Theatre/Teatro Público de Cleveland (Cleveland, OH) and Borderlands Theater Company (Tucson, AZ). Their travels will explore engagement between produced performances, producers, and artists to better understand the organizational structures surrounding the work, which will assist the two organizations in developing a future model for their collaboration.
Two River Theater Company (Red Bank, NJ) will send Artistic Director John Dias, Director of Marketing Courtney Schroeder, Education Assistant Amanda Espinoza, and Community Relations Officer Gilda Rogers to visit Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Borderlands Theater with the goal of further developing Two River’s Latinx audience and building a long-term dialogue between theater and community. During their travels to OSF, they will learn about the organization’s internal diversity and inclusion structure and its work with community ambassadors. While at Borderlands Theater, they will observe the company’s Barrios Stories Project and learn how Two River might better serve the community as a resource center.
The Audience (R)Evolution Travel Grants panel included: Susie Falk, Managing Director, California Shakespeare Theater; Joanne Seelig, Director of Education at Imagination Stage; Michael Develle Winn, Community Engagement Manager, Alliance Theatre.
Round 1 Recipients
Cornerstone Theater Company (Los Angeles, CA)
Cornerstone Theater Company will re-imagine their audience engagement program Creative Seeds through the cultural knowledge of community representatives, called Community Connectors—past participants of their collaborative play-making process—to reach more community audiences and to better tailor their audience engagement.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR)
Oregon Shakespeare Festival will reimagine their successful local Latino community-building model into a new and meaningful engagement program with a distant-destination audience. Dialogue between artist/activist Luis Alfaro and Portland groups and youth of color will overcome the obstacles to bringing these and other new audiences the 300 miles to Ashland.
Pasadena Playhouse (Pasadena, CA)
To reimagine their Theatrical Diversity Project and build a new model of artistic co-creation between their institution, Latino Artists and emerging Latino community artists, Pasadena Playhouse will create an engaged Latino Community Taskforce that includes outreach programming and artistic mentorship.
Pillsbury House Theatre (Minnesota, MN)
Artists will develop public art installations and curricula for social service programs (i.e. childcare center, afterschool programs, free clinic) exploring themes from mainstage productions and leading neighbors, program participants and parents to enter the theatre and experience mainstage plays.
Portland Center Stage (Portland, OR)
Portland Center Stage (PCS) will elicit deeper patron engagement by "gamifying" participation in their programs. Working with Portland-based tech firm Perka, they will build an app that features interactive rewards for participation in PCS activities and create an outreach tour to recruit new app users and audiences.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)
Steppenwolf Theatre Company will present Project Compass, a highly participatory project that asks audiences to explore the questions: What is your internal compass? Why do we make the decisions we do? Housed in The Steppenwolf Lab, their new space and testing ground for audience engagement, teens and adults will explore these questions together.
Su Teatro (Denver, CO)
Su Teatro will utilize recent immigrant youth involved in their school theatre programs to help shape and lead a comprehensive marketing and outreach effort to engage their peers, with the belief that they are the most important artists and audiences in Su Teatro's future.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington, DC)
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is seeking to multiply their Connectivity department’s effect on their artistic work and their audiences by refining the revolution they've already started, and enlarging the footprint of the department. Their vision is to exponentially increase their impact by launching new and longer-term partnerships.
Cape Fear Regional Theatre (Fayetteville, NC)
Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s (CFRT) will partner with Hidden Voices and Mike Wiley Productions to develop their Community Engagement Initiative VOICES FROM THE HOMEFRONT, an outreach effort to give voice to the military community. Focusing on the spouses and children of deployed military men and women, CFRT will develop a process to turn these voices into a piece of documentary theatre, programmed as a stage reading and installation.
Dallas Children's Theater (Dallas, TX)
Dallas Children’s Theater will partner with Orlando Repertory Theatre and Nashville Children’s Theatre to evaluate and implement sensory-friendly performances for children with autism and others who need adaptations to help them comfortably experience live theatre with their families.
The Audience (R)Evolution grant panel included Edgar Dobie, executive producer, Arena Stage; Randy Reyes, artistic director, Mu Performing Arts; Bil Schroeder, director of marketing & communications, South Coast Repertory; Alida Wilson-Gunn, education and community outreach programs director, Borderlands Theater; and Shay Wafer, executive director, 651 ARTS.