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 nearly 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 13 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 126,000 people, produces over 215,000 performances each year and contributes over $2 billion to the US 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.

Our Programs and Services

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; 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 artform. 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 New Generations, which supports Future Leaders, and Future Audiences and is supported jointly by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships; the MetLife/TCG A-ha! 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.

TCG has recently launched a new members-only program: The TCG Brain Bank: Where Knowledge Earns Interest, which matches knowledge seekers with knowledge donors. In summer 2010, TCG will offer two pre-conferences to the TCG National Conference in Chicago: a pilot program supported by American Express that brings together pairs of established and emerging practitioners for a three-day intensive leadership development program; and a two-day convening for theatre education directors as part of TEAM: Theatre Education Assessment Models.

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 the TCG Bulletin, executive director's Field Letter, 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, ensure FEMA eligibility for theatres in disaster areas and improve the timeliness of visa processing. TCG is currently working to ensure continued access to white space 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 your Congressional representatives.

As the United States center for the International Theater Institute (ITI), TCG provides leadership on the international landscape connecting its members to a network of more than 90 national centers across the globe. TCG programs foster international collaboration and exchange with geographically unrestricted travel grants; provide visa support letters to bring in foreign artists; and connect theatre practitioners around the globe.

Now in over 120 communities and more than 600 theatres nationwide, TCG's Free Night of Theater brings infrequent and non-traditional attendees to live theatre every year. With support from the NEA, TCG is working with the National Alliance of Musical Theatre to build awareness of theatre through video and audio spots and programs such as Free Night.

Our Membership

From 15 theatres sitting around a table in 1961, TCG's membership today has grown to nearly 500 theatres in 47 states and the District of Columbia; over 12,000 individual members and affiliated trustees; and almost 150 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.

As we head toward our 50th Anniversary season in 2011, 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.

As we look to our 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2011, 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 publications opportunities; 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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