This past month, artists, arts leaders, community organizers, theatre-makers, and change-agents from all over the world met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for Statera Foundation’s National Conference on gender parity in the Arts. During the opening address on October 5th, Statera’s Executive Director, Melinda Pfundstein announced the creation of the Martha Richards Visionary Woman in Leadership Award.
This award, established in Martha Richards’ name, will be given annually to a visionary woman* who uplifts, amplifies, and advances women in the Arts. The award was established to lift up and support the work of extraordinary women and TGNC (Trans / Gender Non-Conforming) arts leaders who are creating pathways for other women leaders.
Pfundstein said during her opening speech, “Future recipients recognize and develop the potential of emerging women leaders in the arts and they actively create pathways to leadership for women artists.”
After receiving the inaugural award, Martha Richards, spoke to a crowd of 200 conference attendees. She thanked StateraArts for the honor and impressed upon those gathered that coalition-building is the only way forward for the gender parity movement.
TRANSCRIPT from Melinda Pfundstein’s Announcement:
I want to tell you about a very important woman in my life. Everyone needs a mentor and for the past three years, Martha Richards has been mine.
Martha has spent a 40-year career centering on the voices of women and under-represented artists. This year marks twenty-three years as Executive Director of WomenArts, a non-profit Martha founded dedicated to increasing visibility and opportunities for women artists in all genres. Prior to WomanArts, Martha served as Executive Director of Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College and as Managing Director of StageWest. She has received many honors including a 2006 nomination for the prestigious international Montblanc Due La Culture Award for outstanding service to the arts, induction into the BayPath College 21st Century Women Business Leaders Hall of Fame for her work in philanthropy, and recognition as one of three "founding mothers" of the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts.
Martha came into my life in early 2015, just before Statera’s inaugural conference. Martha saw my potential as a leader and had the courage to develop that potential. And since our very first meeting, I have been all ears. I never go to a meeting with Martha when I don’t have a pen and paper in hand. Her ability to fuse Big Vision with practical solutions is magic.
Martha knows that the key to gender parity is tangible resources for women. Not only has she taught me to recognize and develop Statera’s resources, but also how to extract the most value from those resources to make the biggest impact in the gender parity movement. Martha Richards and her work is writ all over Statera.
Martha has given me more that I can express here in this moment, but the thing that has most impacted my leadership for Statera is this: Attention to detail and organizational excellence can live side by side with absolute joy in the work.
Martha’s mentorship has expanded in the past year to include other members on our executive team, which is why Statera has grown so quickly and taken action with such efficacy. Martha has magnified and maximized our efforts, which is why Statera is now in a position to magnify her work.
One of Martha’s greatest and most wide-reaching accomplishments was the creation of SWAN / Support Women Artists Now Day, an international holiday celebrating the power and diversity of women’s creativity. Over its 11-year history, SWAN Day has reached 36 countries with over 1900 events.
Martha Richards has changed the landscape for women artists. I cannot overestimate her global impact. This is why it is my great honor to establish the Martha Richards Visionary Woman in Leadership Award.
This award, established in her name, will be given annually to a visionary woman who uplifts, amplifies, and advances women in the arts.
Future recipients of the Martha Richards Visionary Woman in Leadership Award recognize and develop the potential of emerging women leaders in the arts and she actively creates pathways to leadership for those women artists.
StateraArts will be announcing nomination guidelines and a submission timeline for the Martha Richards Visionary Woman in Leadership Award in January 0f 2019.
We use an inclusive definition of women. "Women" includes anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies (either always or some of the time) as a woman. This includes TGNC / transgender and gender non-conforming people.