White Oak Retreats

TCG conducted retreats in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2003 at White Oak Plantation in Yulee, Florida. Prior to 2013, The Howard Gilman Foundation administered the White Oak Plantation and Conservation Center, which consists of 7,400 acres of woodlands on the banks of the St. Mary's River, 30 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida. The White Oak Plantation provided varied meeting facilities in a bucolic setting. This atmosphere created a unique space for reflection and growth, strategic and analytical thinking, and development and implementation of new ideas.

2003 White Oak Retreat for Theatres of Color

September 11–14, 2003

Yulee, FL


Facilitator:

Diane Burbie, Managing Principal/Facilitator, The Aspire Group


About the Program:

Theatres of color have had difficulties in achieving the resources necessary for their continued survival. This retreat sought to identify the underlying challenges and advantages unique to running a theatre of color. The program fostered candid exchange, helped build a stronger coalition, and developed collective strategies for strengthening the valuable, yet vulnerable institutions. Six critical themes addressed included: funding, artistic process and the work, audience composition, organization development of leaders, staff and artists, education and training programs, and media and criticism. Attendees included African-American, Latino, and Asian-American managing and artistic directors from TCG Member Theatres.


An executive report from the 2003 Retreat entitled More Than Mere Survival: The Future for Theatres of Color, prepared by Suzanne M. Sato, was published. Click here for the executive findings. The 2003 White Oak Retreat for Theatres of Color was so successful that additional meetings took place in 2004 and 2005.


Click here to view the 2003 White Oak Retreat for Theatres of Color participant list.


Please email Emilya Cachapero with any questions about this program.


The White Oak Retreat for Theatres of Color was generously funded by The Howard Gilman Foundation and The Nathan Cummings Foundation.


2001 White Oak Retreat on Renewal and Sustaining Excellence

February 1–4, 2001

Yulee, FL


Facilitators:

Ronnie Brooks, director of the Institute for Renewing Community Leadership
Peter W. Culman, former managing director of Center Stage


About the Program:

During the summer of 2000, TCG conducted focus groups funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The groups included: finance, education, development and marketing directors as well as literary and production managers from a range of TCG Member Theatres. They expressed concerns about the difficulty of maintaining energy, enthusiasm and a sense of challenge and fulfillment over the arc of a long-term career in the not-for-profit theatre. TCG organized the White Oak Renewal Retreat in response to these concerns.


The White Oak Renewal Retreat addressed personal, professional and institutional renewal-what it is, why it matters and skills for pursuing it, as well as strategies for sustaining excellence, creativity and enthusiasm while pursuing the craft of theatre. Topics discussed included: renewal, the concepts of purpose and value, avoiding burnout and how to have effective conversations.


Participants left White Oak with ideas on how to lead their own departments more effectively and the realization that the renewal process requires constant care and work but is essential to leading a fulfilling personal and work life. Attendees included 32 senior level managers from TCG Member Theatres with tenures ranging from three years to over two decades, from various disciplines and from a wide variety of theatres across the country.


Click here for an agenda.


Click here to view the 2001 White Oak Renewal Retreat participant list.


Please email Emilya Cachapero with any questions about this program.


The White Oak Retreat on Renewal and Sustaining Excellence was generously funded by The Howard Gilman Foundation.


2000 White Oak Retreat

March 30–April 2, 2000

Yulee, FL


Facilitator:

Cynthia Mayeda, Brooklyn Museum of Art's deputy director for institutional advancement


About the Program:

TCG invited a small group of managing and artistic leaders to discuss the challenges facing mid-size theatres. The invited leaders represented theatres with operating budgets between $1–5 million and reflected diverse seasons, leadership styles and geographic regions. Prior to the retreat, participants were provided with a brief history of the invited theatres and leaders, enabling the conversations to begin with a common frame of reference.


The candid discussions worked through an agenda tailored to the needs of the leaders and theatre communities represented in the room. The group discussed topics which included: philosophical issues (artistry and its relationship to money; balancing a humane workplace with the pressure to deliver a product; support for artists), practical strategies (retaining staff; diversity; preparing audiences for challenging work; partnerships and co-productions) and structures (board/staff relations; alternate leadership models).


Click here for an agenda.


Click here to view the 2000 White Oak Retreat participant list.


Please email Emilya Cachapero with any questions about this program.


The White Oak Retreat was generously funded by The Howard Gilman Foundation and the Ford Foundation.


1999 White Oak Retreat for New Artistic Leaders

January 28–31, 1999

Yulee, FL


Facilitator:

John McCann, Partner, The Bay Group International


Workshop Leaders:

Ronnie Brooks, Director, Institute for Renewing Community Leadership
Karen Dubinsky, President, Marketing Insights, Inc.


About the Program:

John E. Booth, a board member of Theatre Development Fund and a former executive of the 20th Century Fund, developed the first White Oak Retreat. In a paper entitled, Theatre 2000 and Beyond, submitted to the Gilman Foundation, Mr. Booth identified a number of issues facing the field and suggested an assembly of leading theatre professionals to discuss these issues and devise answers to some of the troubling questions raised, including how to bring theatre into the next century without diminishing its role as a platform for ideas and free expression.


TCG brought together experienced theatre professionals, men and women of vision and varied perspectives, who had recently assumed the artistic leadership of not-for-profit theatre companies. With input from two distinguished resource professionals from different fields, the goal for the weekend was to come to a better understanding of the problems and the potential of the American theatre field.


Click here for an agenda.


Click here to view the 1999 White Oak Retreat for New Artistic Leaders participant list.


Click here to view research that was given to participants.


Please email Emilya Cachapero with any questions about this program.


The White Oak Retreat for New Artistic Leaders was generously funded by The Howard Gilman Foundation.

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