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 The monthly Field Letter has been replaced by Teresa Eyring's weekly updates on the TCG Circle.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 her first Field Letter of the year, Teresa reports on the $20.1 million increase for the NEA, which is the single largest dollar increase for the agency since 1979, shares TCG grant news and makes some observations on theatre and movie attendance. She writes, "It's always interesting to listen in on conversations about what might be influencing the results….In theatre, when discussing an unpredictable audience picture, we talk about competition for leisure time, the trend toward collaborative online creation and the absence of arts education in the schools as influencers. With respect to the idea of new formats taking over from the old—and for theatre, that was supposed to be radio and then film and then TV why did theatre keep on growing? Hmmm…clearly, we are not alone in wrestling with this issue.
Today, we are launching a new communications program, which replaces the traditional Field Letter. Each month, I will ask a different TCG staff person or board member to write on a topic that is currently occupying their thoughts and is in their area of expertise. Quarterly, I will personally compose a “round-up” of thoughts and issues that I’ve heard from the field. This month, I have the pleasure of introducing Linda Jacobs, TCG’s public relations director, who shares her thoughts about the current state of media coverage for the arts.
As reported last month, we’ve changed the content approach to the Field Letter so that, each month, we can go into depth on a particular aspect of TCG’s work in the field. In February, we witnessed an exciting and energized advocacy effort aimed at maintaining a $50 million allocation for the NEA in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while minimizing the impact of the Coburn Amendment (which originally banned theatres and arts centers from receiving economic stimulus funds). This month, I’ve asked Laurie Baskin, TCG director of government and education programs, to provide an inside look at how this advocacy process unfolded, as well as what’s on the horizon for the future.
In this month's Field Letter, Emilya Cachapero, TCG's director of artistic programs/ITI-U.S. writes about her views on cultural exchange. TCG is the U.S. Center for the International Theatre Institute, an organization that was established by UNESCO after World War II to promote diplomacy through the arts. One of ITI's high visibility programs is World Theatre Day, and this year's celebration on March 27 was enthusiastically celebrated across the U.S. and the globe.
In the May Field Letter, Teresa offers a quarterly recap in which she reflects upon the turbulent yet exhilarating times that 2009 has shown us so far. She discusses the ways in which political and economic changes have influenced the theatre industry and the opportunities that such changes present for new and innovative ways of thinking and acting. Teresa writes, "If I had to sum up 2009 to date with a single adjective, I’d call it “nautical.” Yes, nautical. We are collectively working to read the stars and the winds, attempting to sail efficiently and safely to a new destination whose particular characteristics are not completely known. But as a result of our predisposition toward optimism, it is generally assumed to be a better place. No matter how tough it gets out there, it feels as if we’re at the edge of a new frontier, building the boat as we sail it, journeying along the arc of an epic adventure complete with villains, heroes and weather."
For this month’s Field Letter, Teresa asked TCG’s publisher, Terry Nemeth, to pen a few words on our book program. Under Terry’s leadership, TCG has become the largest independent trade publisher of dramatic literature in North America. Terry recounts the history and the mission of TCG Books, and also announces the program's next major initiative: "TCG will be publishing over 25 titles in e-book format this summer," he writes. "Our plan is to have 100 of our play titles available in this format within the first year. "
For the July Field Letter, Teresa asked TCG's director of audience development, Phillip Matthews, to write about nationwide audience trends and the work that TCG is doing to assist theatres across the country in their audience development efforts. Phillip offers descriptions of many of the audience development programs administered by TCG, including Free Night of Theater, which will have its fifth anniversary on October 15. He writes, "The program provides a unique opportunity for theatres, service organizations, arts councils and even city governments to collaborate on a nationwide initiative that increases theatre visibility, provides new sponsorship opportunities and introduces new audiences to the joy of theatre for the first time. Theatres are then provided with successful audience retention “best practices” that assist in bringing those patrons back. "
This month, Teresa discusses the findings of Theatre Facts 2008, TCG's annual industry report. With the fiscal year of many theatres having recently ended, Theatre Facts presents an opportunity for everyone to take a step back and examine their own situation in the larger context of the field as a whole. Teresa writes: "While TCG’s surveys may seem all about numbers and business, they can be mined for key questions that go beyond the circumstances of individual organizations and help theatre leadership and trustees better understand national issues and trends."
Teresa starts out the September Field Letter with a recap of her recent trip to Colombia, where she attended a conference sponsored by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. She goes on to discuss recent happenings at the national level, including Rocco Landesman's confirmation and how new national service initiatives are interacting with the arts community. Finally, she reminds us of the power of collaboration and cooperation by reviewing some recent parternships between TCG and other national arts service organizations.
For this month’s Field Letter Teresa asked TCG’s new board president, Martha Lavey, to write a few words by way of introduction to our members and constituents. Martha, artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, and TCG board member for the past five years, writes that she is “excited . . . to take on this new position at a time when the theatre community continues to contemplate the challenges posed by the economic climate, but is also seizing opportunities to explore the art form in new ways, with new technologies, new organizational structures and new collaborations across borders.” Martha goes on to discuss the role of the board in keeping TCG connected to the field, and concludes by sharing some of the ideas and articles that have inspired and motivated her recent work.
In her final Field Letter of the aughts, Teresa reflects upon some of TCG’s big events of 2009, including the Fall Forum on Governance and the National Conference in Baltimore. She also shares some major events from member theatres—specifically those that have recently garnered recognition from the White House. She concludes by sharing a charming story from Barry Kornhauser of Fulton Theatre, who recounts his own trip to the White House accompanied by a lively youth ensemble member.