Statera Member Spotlight: Betsy Mugavero

StateraArts Membership is growing fast! Since our official launch on January 1st, over 90 artist-activists have joined the StateraArts community! Our members come from all over the USA and all genres of art-making. They are educators, arts leaders, activists, content-creators, professional artists, early career, mid-career, patrons, and community organizers. The Statera Member Spotlight is just one way StateraArts uplifts and amplifies the voices of our members. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Producing Artistic Director of Southwest Shakespeare Company, Betsy Mugavero.

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What is your occupation or calling in the arts? 
I came into theater as an actor. Now, I'm a producer and actor. I'm not certain which of those is a calling or an occupation to me! I do both Full Time. I'm happy doing both and feel passion for both... Hopefully, someone will figure it out when they write my obituary one day...:)

Tell us about your favorite project you've done thus far.
Shakespeare is my life's work. Every Shakespeare play I perform in is my favorite project at the time. Now that I'm wearing the Producer hat, having more control over how we shape Shakespeare for our modern audience is really exciting to me.

Why did you become a StateraArts member?
I became a member of Statera because I'm looking for community to support me and to offer support to, particularly in women. We're constantly fed a narrative that we all need to be competitive with each other, especially in the arts, and I do not think that is true at all. I firmly believe that if you believe there is enough pie for everyone, there will be enough. Statera is baking the pie and we're all adding ingredients. It's delicious and enlivening. 

What other organizations are you affiliated with? 
Co-Producing Artistic Director, Southwest Shakespeare Company; Actors' Equity Association

What do you love most about your artistic community?
I'm new to Phoenix, which is my current community. What I love most is how many artists there are here creating and producing their own work! I also recently learned that the arts contributed to $32 million in state tax revenues! People in Arizona support and value the arts. It's a great new place to be with tons of potential.

When did you feel most supported or championed by the women in your life?   
I have been lucky to have worked with women in theater who have helped carved a place for me by demanding their own respect for their talent and worth. Right now, I feel most championed by women who are younger than me, because they are looking at me as an example of someone who is in a position of artistic leadership at a professional theater company, juggling motherhood, marriage, being a professional actor, and staying healthy all at once. I keep wondering why there are so many more young women than men in production and on stage in high school drama club, and yet, when we get into the professional world, there are few women leading as directors, producers, and in arts administration. I doubt those young women lost their passion. I don't doubt that what they found as they began a professional career that they were told there wasn't room for mothers, or they couldn't be a mother if they chose to stay in the profession, or most likely, the didn't SEE any mothers around. I have to be my whole self when I'm on stage, I have to be my whole self as a producer. That means understanding the reality of having a family and arranging my life so that I can have both. Mary Way, Executive Director of Southwest Shakespeare Company, has never once made me feel like my being a mother hinders my ability to lead. I'm incredibly grateful for her confidence and belief in me. She's definitely an everyday champion for me.

Tell us about another woman or non-binary artist who inspires your work. 
Every woman out there telling her story, and empowering others to tell theirs is my inspiration.

Mentorship is at the core of the StateraArts mission. Tell us about one of your mentors. How did they shape you or provide pathways for opportunity? 
I'm actually looking for a mentor! I'm lucky to have people I can turn to for advice and guidance- the best advice I got from a female Artistic Director was to make sure to take care of myself. It's very easy in the arts to put your own needs to the side to keep the "baby" alive, but that can lead to incredible fatigue and illness. You can't lead if you aren't well. I've taken that advice very seriously.  I'd really like to have a female mentor to converse with on a regular basis about being a manager and producer for the arts. It's a completely different ballgame for women and having a coach who understands some of the challenges I face on a personal level to help me navigate through would be extremely beneficial to me! 

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Any upcoming projects you'd like to share with us? 
Yes! Southwest Shakespeare Company is hosting Harlem Shakespeare Festival as they produce an All Female Othello! April 19-28 at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ. Debra Ann Byrd is starring the title role, Vanessa Morosco directs.

Othello runs April 19-28 at Taliesin West Pavilion theater in Scottsdale, AZ!
Ticket and info at 
www.swshakespeare.org