TCG’s support of cultural exchange remains central to many of our programs and services – this work became particularly central in 1999 when the US Center of the International Theatre Institute (ITI-US) merged with TCG; however, long before this merger international activities were a vital part of TCG’s programs:
The National Theatre Artist Residency Program funded by the Pew Charitable Foundation from 1992-2004 supported several successful international residencies with artists from Cuba, Columbia, the Netherlands, China and Switzerland.
With support from USIA (a division of the US Department of State), TCG created the International Theatre Partnership Program which involved exchanges between artists in the US and Mexico, Argentina and Brazil in 1999-2000.
For over thirty years, the TCG Observership Program supported domestic and international travel for key staff of TCG member theatres.
In 2000, TCG secured funds from the Trust for Mutual Understanding to establish the TCG/ITI Travel Grants to foster cultural exchange and artistic partnerships between theatre professionals in the United States and their counterparts in Russia, Eastern Europe or Central Europe
For some time now, TCG Books has distributed scripts written by non-U.S. playwrights. TCG’s relationship with Nick Hern was established in1989 and focuses on writers in countries that include the United Kingdom, Germany, Latin America, South Africa, Hungary, Russia and Ukraine. Since 1992, TCG has distributed Oberon’s United Kingdom and Norwegian titles. Playwrights Canada Press titles have been a part of TCG’s listings since 1997.
In 2005, an international component was added to the New Generations Program providing support for International Fellowships. Since then, the program was revised and became Future Collaborations Travel Grants, which supports theatres and theatre professionals with grants for unrestricted international travel, enabling them to share ideas and techniques and/or collaborate with their colleagues around the world.
American Theatre magazine has regularly dedicated issues to international coverage and more focus has been incorporated monthly via the Global Spotlight section and articles about noteworthy artists and productions. Two plays written by non-US playwrights were recently included in separate issues of AT – Javier Malpica’s Our Dad Is In Atlantis (Mexico) and Honey-Brown Eyes (Bosnia) written by Stefanie Zadravec.
In 2005, the US rejoined UNESCO as a full member and serves on the US National Commission for UNESCO and the US subcommittee of UNESCO’s Young Professional Program. TCG is one of the very few not-for-profits in this position.
International activities extend to our advocacy efforts which includes immigration and visa issues, which remain to be major challenges to international exchange. We are regularly called upon to write Peer Consultations (visa support letters) on behalf of an increasing number of US organizations who are collaborating with artists from abroad.
In Spring-Summer 2007, TCG/ITI-US staff convened groups of theatre professionals via teleconference to discuss the challenges of international work. Participants represented both ends of the spectrum – those doing international work and those who have not yet done so. Theatre professionals currently working internationally were asked what they need to continue working and to deepen the impact of their work. Those who were not involved were asked about existing assumptions that prevent them from taking on international projects and what would free them to consider the possibilities.
The above Field Conversations created the foundation for a Working Meeting focusing on International Work on April 21, 2008. This event was a collaboration with The Martin E. Segal Center and 80 participants representing producing organizations, presenters, cultural organizations, funders and academic institutions met to detail current challenges and to set the course for next steps to address those challenges. A report covering the meetings was generated by Ben Pesner.
In June, 2009, TCG/ITI-US has hosted the ACTivate Change: Bridging Cultural Exchange and Creativity Pre-conference in Washington DC. This historic gathering united 115 international artists, representatives from theatres, government agencies, labor unions and cultural ministries.
In January, 2010, TCG/ITI-US organized a delegation of US theatre practitioners to represent the United States for the first time at the Fujairah International Monodrama Festival. The delegation contributed through performance, dialogue and the signing of a cultural and artistic cooperation agreement with the Fujairah Culture and Media Authority and ITI-Fujairah as one more step in ratifying the importance of cultural diplomacy.