Round 3 Exploration Grant Cycle B Recipients
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Boulder, CO):
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (BETC) will create an intergenerational theatre program for youth ages 14-18 (high school students) and seniors ages 55+ to be offered in Boulder-area schools and senior facilities beginning in the summer of 2020. Over multiple class meetings, senior and youth playwrights will write original short plays inspired by each other’s life experiences; the plays will then be performed. BETC will begin with a pilot program pairing one high school with one senior center, then expand the program across two counties and multiple school districts as they refine their program model and gather evidence of the program’s successes and impacts. This grant will allow BETC to observe the “Mind the Gap” intergenerational theatre program at New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW). BETC will observe NYTW’s program once mid-session and once during the final production process.They’’ll consult with NYTW staff and teaching artists to learn what makes their program effective. On the second trip, a BETC staff member will attend a multi-day training on arts and creative aging led by experts at the Creative Center at University Settlement, learning theoretical and didactic approaches to implementing and sustaining high-quality arts programming for older adults.
Hartford Stage, Hartford, CT:
Aside from the occasional touring production, there is a dearth of quality children’s theatre in the state of Connecticut. As a producing theatre, Hartford Stage (HS) would like to address this deficiency by creating theatre for its local families and communities. The question is whether HS should reform its existing artistic season or if it has the infrastructure to create an additional series of programing. They’ll begin to answer aesthetic, logistical, and budgetary questions like these by looking to two contrasting theatres, Alliance Theatre and Children’s Theatre Company. These theatres have a commitment to exceptional, high-quality work, and will provide HS with potential models of programming. Members of the artistic and education departments at HS will take concrete steps in evolving the theatre’s dedication to young and intergenerational audiences by expanding its artistic season. At the moment, HS has one theatre and one MainStage season which runs from September to June. With exception to their winter remount of A Christmas Carol, their youth performances and community-oriented programming (Breakdancing Shakespeare, Teen Musical) are scheduled for the summer.
Oregon Children's Theatre, Portland, OR:
Oregon Children’s Theatre (OCT) will explore activities and programs that will strengthen relationships with three culturally specific organizations in order to advance their shared community engagement and audience-development goals OCT will work with these partners to achieve the following mutual goals: 1) Identify collaborative theatre projects that reach a multi-generational audience; 2) Implement strategies to bring underrepresented voices into the play development process; 3) Build relationships with community organizations serving underrepresented youth and elders; and, 4) Pilot a professional development program to build a diverse roster of teaching artists working with youth. OCT has identified three culturally-specific arts and arts education organizations in Portland with which to collaborate: PassinArt Theatre Company, Vanport Mosaic, and MediaRites’ Theatre Diaspora. The project includes travel to visit Seattle Children’s Theatre to share ideas and learnings with a company having a comparable mission and facing the same challenges.
Playmakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill, NC:
Playmakers Repertory Company will explore how successful family programing can deepen their mission to tell stories from and for a multiplicity of perspectives. Playmakers will explore an expansion of programming possibilities with theatres that have a proven track record of youth programming. The funds will send producing artistic director Vivienne Benesch, producing associate Alejandro Rodriguez, and company artistic associate Kathryn Hunter-Williams,to consult with three theatres:
-The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte whose mission statement reads “We create exceptional theatre experiences, inspiring generations to explore the wonder of their world.” Charlotte is located three hours from Chapel Hill, and they have an excellent track record of presenting work for young audiences in the southeast.
-Adventure Theatre (Washington, DC): “Adventure Theatre MTC is the pre-eminent Theater Academy for youth in the DC region with an integrated and nationally renowned high quality professional theater for family audiences.”
-Synchronicity Theatre (Atlanta, GA), which produces “smart, gutsy and bold theatre to spark community connections and uplift the voices of women and girls.”
Playmakers now reaches nearly 8,000 patrons through a season of plays for adults and families; community outreach; and educational programming.
Shakespeare Dallas, Dallas, TX:
Shakespeare Dallas’s (SD) education team will travel to Boulder, Colorado to observe and learn from Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s (CSF) staff. CSF’s outreach and education team have developed a significant program in public schools that combines Shakespeare and violence prevention. The program has been developed over several years with support from University of Colorado researchers, and combines an on-campus one-hour performance of a Shakespeare play and workshops that are conducted in classrooms by the actors. The Shakespeare and Violence Prevention program has proven to change the way students perceive bullying and engage in diffusing bullying and other threatening behavior. SD team members will attend performances and workshops taught by CSF actors in Denver public schools, interview artists and staff members. SD will then bring CSF’s director of outreach to Dallas to train actors in workshop development for SD. The goal is to learn best practices in a statewide tour, as well as the efficacy of violence prevention programs, and replicate the program in Texas. SD will meet with the research team from University of Colorado that has developed metrics and measurement tools and continue developing specific tools for an SD Texas state tour.
Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA:
WTF’s COMMUNITY WORKS (CW) program has transformed the way Berkshires residents of all ages access their theatre, through year-round workshops and an annual community-engaged world premiere production. They will codify their commitment to radical inclusion by engaging WTF’s leadership, CW cast (local residents ranging in ages from six to 92, and professionals), and the administrative and creative team in a cultural-competency training program. First, associate artistic director Laura Savia and CW associate Hayley Sherwood will shadow Berkshire-based Shirley Edgerton, a CW alum and Pittsfield Public Schools Cultural Proficiency Coach, in her work. The second phase will be a cultural-competency training for WTF’s CW staff led by Shirley, highlighting the strategies used for diverse age groups. Third, the applicant team will create a curriculum and facilitate trainings in rehearsal for our 2019 production. They will equip all participants in COMMUNITY WORKS with tools and strategies to be advocates for equity, diversity, and inclusion in and out of the program. Finally, Laura Savia, equipped with the knowledge of this regionally-focused work, will attend artEquity’s facilitator training, to further this work and connect it with the national discourse on cultural competency in our industry.
Round 3 Cohort Grant Recipients
African-American Shakespeare Company (San Francisco, CA); AfroSolo (San Francisco, CA); SFBATCO (San Francisco, CA); Cultural Odyssey (San Francisco, CA)
The AATAIN cohort (African-American Theater Alliance for Independence) will work as a collective to create experiences specifically designed for youth audience members of color within the San Francisco Bay Area community. The program will enlist a youth committee and set-up a structured season pass that will provide youth of varying ages with different opportunities to engage with theatre performances from four theatre companies in San Francisco Bay Area. Each theatre company has a different style and branding and will create different experiences as gateways to discovering exciting programs for youths of all ages as well as prototypes for models that can be replicated across the nation.
California Shakespeare Theater (Berkeley, CA); RYSE Youth Center (Richmond, CA); Allen Temple Arms (Oakland, CA)
California Shakespeare Theater will partner with RYSE Youth Center and Allen Temple Arms to conduct community-based intergenerational Story Circles contributing to Marcus Gardley’s new play, A Thousand Ships. The 1000 Ships Project will lift up the heroism of the women who, like Marcus’ grandmothers, moved across country to work in the Richmond Shipyards during WWII—crossing race and gender barriers, and sparking the region’s cultural transformation in the process. Throughout the project period, residents at Allen Temple Arms, a low-income senior housing residence, and interns participating in RYSE Youth Centers programming will participate in Story Circles together, develop their own personal artistic responses, and share out at events attended by all participants. Within the project period participants will also engage in audience development programming at California Shakespeare Theater, though the more significant presence of this project at the Theater will take place in 2020, when A Thousand Ships premieres.
COCA-Center of Creative Arts (St. Louis, MO); The Black Rep (University City, MO); Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)
COCA, The Black Rep, and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis will build upon decades of experience in creating youth development programs of the highest quality through the launch of the St. Louis Tech Theatre Workforce Collaborative, a robust multi-year partnership designed to inspire interest in technical theatre careers. Building upon the Black Rep’s long-standing Teen Tech Program and COCA’s established multi-disciplinary approach to arts education, the collaborative will join forces with the Boys & Girls Club to increase the pipeline of opportunities, particularly for students of color, to thrive in the creative industry. Guided by dedicated career counseling with the Boys & Girls Club, high school students from around the region, including Boys & Girls Club participants, will have an opportunity to learn skills in stage management, costume design, lighting design, makeup design, and set and prop design. As established, local employers of theatre technicians, both COCA and The Black Rep will create a diverse pipeline for their own future workforces through practical internship placements. The collaborative will provide both new pathways for potential employment in technical theatre as well as build future audiences by creating an affinity for theatre at large.
Court Theatre (Chicago, IL); Illinois Humanities (Chicago, IL); Stony Island Arts Bank (Rebuild Foundation) (Chicago, IL); Chicago Public Library Foundation (Chicago, IL)
Cry Hallelujah: Ancient Greece, Gospel, and The Great Migration will build an audience of South Side residents through engagement around three Court Theatre productions. A robust series of community-based classes and conversations will invite residents to more fully engage with the plays by providing context and expanding upon their themes, informing the theatre’s approach to the plays. The plays include Oedipus Rex in winter 2019, The Gospel at Colonus in spring 2020, and Antigone in fall 2020. Court, Illinois Humanities, and two South Side library branches (Greater Grand Crossing and Hall), and Bright Star Church of Chicago will begin community-based dialogues and activities starting in Summer 2019. The series encourages participants to relate the Oedipus Cycle to the experience of African Americans during the Great Migration, and to the history of Chicago’s South Side in the 20th and the early 21st Centuries. These programs will include five community-based courses (two for adults and three for youth), five sets of community book discussions, six sets of public discussions in libraries, two sets of youth panel discussions in churches, a music workshop, and two public panels. Admission to all events and plays will be free to participants, as will childcare, transportation, and meals.
Dallas Children's Theater (Dallas, TX); Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts (Dallas, TX); First Unitarian Church of Dallas (Dallas, TX)
The 2020 production of the new Bruce Coleman play, ANDI BOI, along with associated community-building activities, will address the many challenges and opportunities of transgender youth. With creative use of teen-focused social media channels, partner pre-show readings, and an online town hall, discussions after each performance, and follow-up learning and advocacy opportunities, this project’s goal is to build a community from a cross section of people who want to support teens and their parents in raising a collective voice that advocates understanding and acceptance of transgender youth. Furthermore, a detailed written, photographic, and video documentation package will support future productions and/or study of the issues in the play. As more and more brave young people come to terms with their gender identity and make their presence known, their stories need to be seen and heard as a vehicle to promote understanding and awareness. Yet the increasing visibility of transgender individuals has been accompanied by increasing anti-trans rhetoric and violence, including a heated school bathroom debate in Texas. Collaborative partners are Texas Instruments, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Southwest Airlines, and Capital One.
TeAda Productions (Santa Monica, CA); University of Hawai’i, Hawaiian Theatre Program (Honolulu, HI); Alliance for Drama Education - T-Shirt Theatre (Honolulu, HI); Lili'uokalani Trust (Honolulu, HI); Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists (New York, NY)
This partnership will produce a series of convenings over 12 months with the aim to raise visibility and develop audiences for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander theater practitioners, artists, cross-sector partnerships, and to expand programming. Engagement strategies will be shared with partner organizations and attendees, connecting a broad sector of community groups that will bring diverse audiences to performances and high-quality artistic experiences directly to underserved communities, both in Hawai’i and nationally through targeted engagement. Cohort regional gatherings will connect youth theaters on continent and cohort activities will culminate at the 7th National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival (CONFEST) to be hosted at UHM’s Theater Department on ‘Oahu in June 2020 featuring over 500 intergenerational participants, 50+ local artists and 50+ community organizations. This community-based gathering will celebrate the vibrant cultural history of Native Hawaiian arts and the national field of Asian and Pacific Islander American theater. Fellowships will be offered to youth ambassadors who will be integrated into the regional convenings, the planning of CONFEST, and who will receive educational and professional development.
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.