Field Letter Archives
The monthly Field Letter was written by TCG's executive director and gave a personal and direct summary of current ideas, trends, and resources shaping the field. The monthly Field Letter has been replaced by Teresa Eyring's weekly updates on the TCG Circle. Field Letters are archived from January 2006-October 2010.
In the first Field Letter of the new year, Gigi anticipates the announcement of TCG's new executive director, discusses the appointment of new NEA Council on the Arts members and United States Artists Fellows and recounts recent events including a wide-ranging discussion of global challenges and risks between Robert Rubin and Madeline Albright. She ponders what the global changes addressed in that conversation portend for the field: "By its nature, great theatre dismisses simplistic responses and easy polarities. Theatre lives within the realm of possibilities, fine distinctions and ambiguity. It was oddly calming to hear a discussion that acknowledged rather than dismissed and directly addressed the global challenges before us."
In the February Field Letter, Gigi issues a warm welcome to TCG's newly named executive director as well as a host of new TCG Board members and reports on a recent TCG Board meeting, providing a glimpse into the inner workings of TCG's governing body. She also highlights a number of publications that address recent developments in charitable giving and the arts, including a call from one columnist to revise the tax code so as to eliminate tax deductions for donations to arts organizations: "Though [the author's] source is unidentified, he states that only 10 percent of all charitable deductions this year will be directed at the needy. This is an argument we might have thought we'd answered over the years. Clearly, as in so many other things, communication of the value of the arts in community must be central in an ongoing dialogue."
In her first Field Letter, TCG's new executive director Teresa Eyring recaps her first day at the office and shares plans for her first month on the job and beyond. She also introduces a new Field Letter feature—the Question of the Month. "In addition to keeping you up to date on what's happening at TCG and in the field, I would like to use the Field Letter as an opportunity to hear from you on specific topic areas that affect you in your work. Each month, I will pose a question and request that you consider it individually, in a staff or board meeting or with your students. If you have a moment and can write back to me briefly with your thoughts, I will compile a summary to share with everyone in subsequent field letters."
In the May Field Letter executive director Teresa Eyring shares experiences from recent field gatherings, including a discussion with attendees at the World Social Forum in Kenya. She also shares responses to last month's inaugural Question of the Month, poses a new one for May, and encourages readers to join her at next month's National Conference in her previous home, Minneapolis/St. Paul: "Conference registrations are flowing in, and the program continues to shape up in exciting ways. If you haven't done so already, go to the Events section of the website and sign up."
In the June Field Letter, Teresa recounts news and events from the last month, including the approval by the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee of what could be a historic NEA budget increase. She also contemplates the idea of innovation, and specifically which innovations will be instrumental in shaping the future the American theatre. "…think about an 'experiment' you can commit to trying in your organizations. It can be a tiny experiment or a large one, but you must commit to trying some new thing that might help you move forward…. [There is] something liberating and mad scientist-like about this directive. So I say to you, what will you try in the coming months? Go forth and experiment!"
In the July Field Letter, executive director Teresa Eyring takes time to examine the past (last month's National Conference and statistical data from Free Night of Theater 2006 and the soon-to-be-released Theatre Facts 2006) while continuting to look to the future, addressing TCG's ongoing planning process, the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention, the ever-expanding digital horizon of the Second Life online community and a continuation of last month's discussion on innovation: "There are so many ways to think about innovation, and it seems that one of the challenges we face in exploring innovation together is in defining our terms. I've found EmcArts' definition of innovation in an organizational setting to be useful. Innovation is: 'instances of change that provide new pathways to fulfilling the mission, are discontinuous with business-as-usual and result from a shift in fundamental organizational assumptions.'"
In the August Field Letter, Teresa recalls experiences from a recent convening to discuss changing leisure trends and recommends reading a new report generated from that meeting. She also introduces an upcoming monthly feature in American Theatre magazine—the "mini case study"—and asks for help from the field in finding content for this new feature: "Success stories and 'train wrecks' are both welcome. We hope this is a way to highlight and share current ideas that theatres are generating and converting to action, particularly as they navigate change. I am charged with identifying a series of profiles to kick this off. So please email me or call with your thoughts."
In the September Field Letter, Teresa reflects on the recent Expanding the Theatre Manager's Repertoire training session and looks forward to future TCG events, including the Fall Forum and the 2008 and 2009 National Conferences. She also explores the need for theatres to be more adaptable and innovative in the way they conduct business: "We have all faced the hardship of having fiscal pressures placed on our artistry, and those pressures will only increase if liquidity issues and financial strains continue to build. How can we as a field move more quickly to adapt to changes in the environment and the need for new ways of organizing? A theatre trustee recently shared with me the observation that an investment in innovative thinking should extend beyond the artistic process into the areas of governance and business practice."
In the October Field Letter, Teresa previews several upcoming TCG events and programs, including Free Night of Theater, the Fall Forum and the launching of our annual Salary and Fiscal Surveys. She also recalls recent visits from member theatres to TCG's office and encourages others to do the same: "These visits are a wonderful way for TCG staff to more thoroughly understand the nature of your work and they also give members a chance to meet our fantastic staff and discover the myriad ways that we can assist you in your daily work. If any of you find yourself in New York with some free time, let us know and we can set up a visit with our staff."
In the November Field Letter, Teresa shares stories from recent travels across the country, gears up for the Fall Forum and makes a call to action regarding upcoming FCC "white space" rulings: "This issue is going to be decided in the next several weeks. We need letters expressing the potential negative impacts on your artists, productions and patrons if the FCC were to allow new wireless devices to interfere with the frequencies used by your theatres. This issue is the most serious technological concern the American performing arts community has faced in the last 30 years."
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In her final Field Letter of the year, Teresa comments on the elimination of NEA site visits (and encourages your feedback), previews an upcoming book on arts participation and shares information and stories from the Children's Theatre Company's latest foray into making theatre for pre-schoolers: "During one performance, when the dog puppet entered, a toddler who had his stuffed dog with him walked onto the stage to introduce his stuffed dog to the puppet dog. When an ambulance arrived to get Bartholomew after his fall, a young voice shouted out, 'I'm a car, I can help!' At another performance, when Bartholomew arrived in his wheelchair from the hospital feeling sad, a young girl walked onto the stage and offered him her teddy bear."