Statera Mentorship: Meet the NYC Regional Coordinators

Mentorship is at the core of Statera's mission of taking positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the arts. Statera Mentorship is now in New York City and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the NYC Regional Coordinators. Here are some quick stats before we dive in:

New York City Chapter Founded: Winter 2019
Dates: Class I runs from July 1 - December 31, 2019
Application deadline: Class I mentor/mentee applications are due by June 1, 2019
Website: stateraarts.org/new-york-mentorship
Instagram: @stateraarts_nyc
Facebook: Statera Mentorship

New York City Regional Coordinators (left to right) Meridith C. Grundei, Sayantee Sahoo, Mara Jill Herman, Alex Marrs, and Rachel Spencer Hewitt.

New York City Regional Coordinators (left to right) Meridith C. Grundei, Sayantee Sahoo, Mara Jill Herman, Alex Marrs, and Rachel Spencer Hewitt.

STATERA: What do you see as the greatest need and/or the most common need for mentorship relationships?

Meridith C. Grundei: I see a need for empowerment and community. Choosing a career in the arts can be daunting and surprisingly lonely at times. It is always wonderful to have a cheerleader in your corner to remind you that you are never alone!

Sayantee Sahoo: The need to navigate through troublesome and confusing relationship parameters that exist not just within our industry, in our own working relationships, but also in the way our industry is viewed by our patrons. 

Rachel Spencer Hewitt: Trust and community. We can't underestimate the healing power of someone taking even thirty minutes at coffee with us, even just to say yes to the thoughts we have about power and progress. When we give that out to others, it's just as powerful. I think everyone should feel ready to join this program even just in bringing themselves to the table.

Mara Jill Herman: The single most important need to impart to future mentees is to carve out a life they enjoy every single day.

Alex Marrs: Reciprocity. I think that mentors and mentees are on equal footing and that there are opportunities for personal and professional growth on either side of the mentorship. Just like in any relationship, it’s essential to give just as much as you take. 

STATERA: Tell us about your work in the theatre / or in the arts.

Alex: I’m an event producer and values-based fundraiser at Primary Stages, a nonprofit Off-Broadway theater company. 

Mara: I am an actor, singer, writer, teaching artist, private coach, and recently added producer/director.

Sayantee: Currently, I am a Production Manager at an awesome youth theater organization, The 52nd St. Project, located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York city. Look us up of Facebook, Instagram, and our website. I manage our beautiful theater, the Five Angels Theater and support all the in-house programs on various technical production aspects. I am looking to restart my work as a performance creator, and working on putting together the preliminary ideas based on 'letters send from love ones from afar'. I am fierce supporter of Safety and Health, and Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity in our industry. And I would love to spearhead a practice-based technical internship program sometime in the near future. 

Meridith: I am a hyphenate for sure. I am an actor, director, and educator. For the past 2 years I have been a guest director and teacher at Naropa University in Boulder, CO. for their MFA in Contemporary Performance program. This past fall, I directed and conceived a show called Bite-Size, An Evening of Micro-Theatre for Off-Center at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I also have an extensive improv background where I have taught for The Second City in Chicago, Il and through my own business called, Red Ball Speaks where I have taught numerous workshops all over the world using improv as a tool for presence and team building. At present, I am acting in a workshop in residence at HB Studios, teaching at The PIT and continuing development on a project I started called, The Father Project.

Rachel: I'm a trained actor and still pursuing work that is challenging, elevated, and provides paychecks that can also pay for my childcare. MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama, which was one of the greatest artistic experiences of my life. I still learn from moments in my memory that just now make sense in light of experience and progress. Worked all over the country in regional theatre, have worked off-Broadway and on Broadway, and even did my first professional contract at the English Theatre in Vienna. In all of this I've learned - good gravy - I love a live, breathing house.

STATERA: Rachel, can you talk a little about your work with PAAL?

Rachel: Sure! I founded Parent Artist Advocacy League for the Performing Arts (PAAL), a national organization to organize, network, and create opportunities for artist caregivers that prioritize their need and turn their lifestyle into assets for our work. Our role with PAAL is to provide support for individuals and institutions as bridge-builders so that access for caregivers becomes common practice and not luck of the draw. We aim to elevate the national standard of support for caregivers in the arts. We are thrilled to partner with Statera so that our distinct conversations can serve to inform the theatre community of their interconnected nature - parity and caregiving go hand in hand, so does PAAL and Statera.

STATERA: Can you all share about your journey to the NYC arts scene?

Mara: As a native New Yorker–born on the Upper West Side and primarily raised on Long Island– New York City has always been accessible. My parents and grandparents were fans and supporters of performing arts in New York and I was introduced at a young age to its breathtaking cultural institutions like museums, ballet, and Broadway. Even when I went away for college, I knew I would move back to New York to build my career. I do wonder what my life would be like if I was from the Midwest or Los Angeles. Would I still hold this preference to make my ultimate work decisions based on living in the Big Apple? Probably!

Sayantee: I am from India, a alumni of the National School of Drama in Direction and Design for theater. I travelled to the United States in 2015 to start my MFA in Technical Design and Production at the Yale School of Drama. Thanks to theater, I have been travelling around India, China and United States over the past decade. I started off as a props artist and painter for my ensemble theater group in Kolkata, India, named Uhinee and then slowly picked up myriad skills. Production is where I want to be right now, and I am super excited to have found a home at The 52nd St. Project. 

Alex: My career in development actually began in higher education at Christopher Newport University. My first job after graduating was raising money for my alma mater’s music, theater, and dance programs along with its performing and visual arts centers. After working at the University level on Long Island, I desired to be more involved with the creation of new work. Primary Stages was the perfect fit. What I love about the company is that the playwright is at the center of the production process. We are also a very collaborative team that surpasses departmental silos and hierarchical structures. 

Meridith: Ha! I just got here and my journey is a beautiful but complicated one. Let’s just say that NYC provides all of the cultural needs for our unique family. The journey started in Colorado where my husband (the theater composer) and I were both flourishing in the Boulder/Denver theater scene. We were happy but we were also searching for growth in a way that Colorado was unable to provide for our daughter and us. So, as you do, we decided to buy an RV and travel the US and Mexico for a year. During our time on the road, we did a lot of soul searching about what was important to us, which lead us here to New York City.

 So far, I have had some lovely successes in my short time in the city but in all honesty, I have never been so confronted by ageism in the arts until I moved here. I have been told several times by reputable industry people to not share things like that I graduated from graduate school 10 years ago or that I have a 7 year old. I was told it reveals my age and that this can hurt my chances for landing certain jobs. One thing I have learned in my “old age” is that everyone in this business has an opinion and you get to choose which ones to block out (insert winking emoticon).

Rachel: I've lived on-the-job in Austria, California, DC, Philadelphia, and New York - all while living in NYC, technically. I have lived in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia off and on, depending on the ebb and flow of work assignments. Essentially, New York has always been the hub for my artistic pursuits, and even now it's the location where I want to cultivate stronger and stronger artistic roots. I first moved to NYC after grad school, and it's always felt like the pace of work that matched my internal pace for work the best.

STATERA: What is your own most memorable mentorship experience?

Sayantee: I mentored a kid with Asperger's Syndrome when I was working as the Technical Director of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, in Alaska last summer. As the camp TD, I had to teach a class on Live production to middle school and high school kids. This particular young man was in the high school camp. His classmates considered him 'problematic' when we first started the program, but at the end of the 10 days of camp, I saw him find friends from his classmates in the Production class. They developed a common language to communicate, so that they could work together as the crew on the camp's programs. It was wonderful to see all of them taking up the challenge to make the workplace more inclusive for this friend of theirs, and journey beyond their personal troubles to find the safe, and welcoming, common ground.

Rachel: In graduate school, I had a couple of professors who would engage with me as a mentor by speaking not only to the question I would bring them, but also somehow into the path I could not see as clearly before me - the long term potential of why I asked certain questions. There is a peace that a good mentor gives just by seeing you - not for who you've made yourself to be in order to survive civilized society - but for who you are designed to be. My greatest mentors spoke not just to me but to my potential, at every opportunity, and I always left the conversation feeling equipped, feeling capable, and feeling seen.

Mara: My college mentor Forrest McClendon helped to shape my life. Part vocal technician/ acting coach/ therapist, Forrest has an unmatched energy and zest for life. He helped me to dig deep into the emotional well while investigating text and also encouraged and fostered a drive to believe in myself.  My voice lessons became intense workouts both physically and emotionally in order to achieve musical breakthroughs.

Forrest taught the Business of Theater course, which offered smart and practical advice about show business. He emphasized the importance of cultivating relationships with writers so that when they’re developing a piece, and they think of you in the mix, you get to go along for the journey: from a friend’s informal table read, to workshops and demos, to rehearsals and all the way to opening night of the first production.

Alex: I feel so very fortunate to have had a number of mentors early in my career... the late Dr. Stephanie Bardwell’s encouragement helped me gain the confidence I needed to leave my University safety net and stand out on my own. 

Meridith: I have definitely had several mentors throughout my career but the most memorable one is Ethie Friend. Ethie was my Roy Hart teacher in graduate school and in my last semester, I was in the process of getting a divorce and a total mess. Her calmness and ability to notice where I was and to work from that place was incredible. After all of these years she has continued to be supportive of my career and I consider her apart of my extended family.

STATERA: How did you become connected to Statera Mentorship? 

Alex: The incredible Kimberly Senior introduced me and encouraged me to get involved. 

Meridith: The lovely Shelly Gaza reached out to me in 2016 to submit a proposal to speak at the Statera Conference in Denver, so I did! My break out session was titled, How to Not Go Fucking Crazy and the Subtle Art of Presence. Or something like that?

Sayantee: Through a fabulous friend and peer. 

Mara: In 2005, I worked with Melinda Pfundstein Vaughn and Shelly Gaza at the Utah Shakespearean Festival. At 19, I looked up to them and was in awe of their talent and accomplishments. When the Statera announcement made front page news of the Equity Newsletter, I felt proud to know them. We reconnected in 2016, when I piloted the first mentorship program.

Rachel: PAAL and Statera's partnership hopes to integrate caregivers into better mentor relationships as well as strengthen and empower the access points of the mentorship program. I'm honored to come on board in NYC both as an advocate for anyone who needs and also as a mentor who can provide any insight or resources possible. PAAL has been growing side by side with Statera, and when our teams joined forces, I knew I wanted to engage personally with the beautiful NYC mentorship program.

STATERA: Talk to us about your leadership style and why you're called to work in this capacity for your community. 

Rachel: I've been a mother for about half a decade, but have been researching and advocating for individuals and into institutions for three of those years. I am committed to holding space for every caregiver need I come across and engaged with multiple action plans at the ready for any one person who needs an extra support for all the cares they carry. I'm also here as a woman, an artist, and advocate for making space that creates access for ALL of us - no matter what pathway we take on the way in.

Alex: My style is lead by example. I was drawn to this opportunity because I wouldn’t be where I am today without all the hands and shoulders of women+ before me and it’s my responsibility to pay it forward. 

Sayantee: I am not a micro-manager, I believe in my peers and try to challenge them to bring out their best at all times. This means, as a manager, I must help them to not just gain confidence but also trust their own decision making abilities. While at all times, helping them get better at what they do, in the best way I can. 

Mara: Patience and empathy have been themes throughout my career. I like to delegate responsibility and surround myself with powerhouse people who are experts at what they do. One friend lovingly called me “the mayor” because I am a connector and build community. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than recommending friends for projects or making artistic introductions.

Meridith: I am a collaborator. I have tried doing work solo and I suck at it. I love bodies in the room and I love bringing great people together. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a fucking kickass group of badasses in a room creating magic. When I attended the Statera Conference in Milwaukee this past October and attended the mentorship meeting, I jumped on the opportunity to start a chapter in NYC. For me, it was an opportunity to meet some dynamic people, which I have and to also be a mentor and mentee in a new city.

STATERA: What recent personal projects or upcoming projects are you excited about?

Alex: Primary Stages is producing an exquisite adaptation of Little Women by the incomparable Kate Hamill at the Cherry Lane Theatre from May 15- June 29. Sarna Lapine is directing. Deborah Abramson wrote original music. The play stars Kristolyn Lloyd as Jo, Paola Sanchez Abreu as Beth, Kate Hamill as Meg, and Carmen Zilles as Amy. Tickets at Primary Stages.org.

Sayantee: Nothing yet. But I will let you know when my "LETTERS" are ready to be read. 

Rachel: The PAAL chapter in Philadelphia is raising childcare funds for the Barrymore Awards nominators and adjudicators so that they can see a wide array of theatre while relieving some of the financial burden of caregiving. We're really excited for this campaign HERE - it's groundbreaking. Also, I'm going to be facilitating a LAB at the TCG conference on June 5 in Miami on replicable solutions for caregiving in institutions, Speaking at the Women's Theatre Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina on July 13, leading a session at Latinx Theatre Commonson caregiving and community on July 14, and we're partnering in NYC on a parent-access project, hosting the first PAAL Summit in NYC this fall/winter, and leading a session at the StateraArts Conference this fall in NYC! Bringing it all back home to the big apple and thrilled to be doing it.

Meridith: I am excited to finally start working on a project that I have shelved for a while called The Father Project. It is inspired by the life of my father and the interviews of children who’s parents were veterans of war. Starting in July I will be working with a few collaborators to bring these stories to life. I will be applying for a few residency programs but if there is a reader out there who would like to help me with a connection for space and mentorship—- I am all ears!

Mara: Yes! Musical Theater Today 2019, Volume 3 is now on sale! The anthology features over 40 industry professionals’ contributions, tips, and an inside look at their creative process. It includes my story about producing Stronger Than Hate: A Benefit for Tree of Life Synagogue. For more details, and to order: https://musicaltheatertoday.com.

Also! I perform with America’s Sweethearts, a vintage trio in the style of the Andrews Sisters. Our next appearance is on May 18th at 7pm, The Green Room 42. For everything else, you can follow me @marajillherman

Interested in learning more about Statera Mentorship? Visit www.stateraarts.org/mentorship.
Sign up for Statera Mentorship: NYC Chapter at
www.stateraarts.org/new-york-mentorship.
And if you have questions, please visit
Statera Mentorship: Frequently Asked Questions.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

Statera Mentorship: Meet the Ithaca Regional Coordinators

Mentorship is at the core of Statera's mission of taking positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the arts. Statera Mentorship is now in the Ithaca, NY Area and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the Ithaca Regional Coordinators. Here are some quick stats before we dive in:

Ithaca Chapter Founded: Winter 2019
Dates: Class I runs from July 1 - December 31, 2019
Application deadline: Class I mentor/mentee applications are due by June 1, 2019
Website: stateraarts.org/ithaca-mentorship
Facebook: Statera Mentorship

Ithaca Regional Coordinators (left to right) Kathleen Mulligan, Lucia Veccio, and Erica Steinhagen.

Ithaca Regional Coordinators (left to right) Kathleen Mulligan, Lucia Veccio, and Erica Steinhagen.

STATERA: What do you see as the greatest need and/or the most common need for mentorship relationships?

Kathleen Mulligan: There’s no one way to have a life in the arts- and I think that can make pursuing a life in the arts a rather lonely endeavor. It’s hard to put yourself out there- to put your HEART out there day after day- and know that so often that heart is going to be rejected. I’m certainly not going to say I’ve got this all figured out- but I know I had some incredibly generous mentors as I embarked on this life who made a real difference for me. They made me feel supported and SEEN- and if I can help other women feel that- well, that’s why I am doing it.

Lucia Vecchio: I believe that being in the arts, especially being a femme-identifying person in the arts, is a life path that can dig at your sense of self and your sense of community in a way that is often hard to stomach. Although it can be an endlessly fulfilling life journey it is not one that can be taken alone. There have been so many cross-roads in my artistic journey where having someone to lean on as I figured out to handle this world changed my life. In particular, having a woman to look up to and rely on as a support system as you dive headfirst into deep, uncertain waters can make all the difference. I want to be that for other women. 

Erica Steinhagen: I think there are so many valuable aspects to that relationship. The need to bounce around ideas, someone to inspire ideas to become fully realized projects, someone to be a support and ally… Perhaps someone to create some accountability for goal-setting and fulfillment.

STATERA: Tell us about your work in the theatre / or in the arts.

Kathleen: I’ve been acting professionally for thirty five years (with a little break in there for grad school), but about twenty five years ago I started teaching alongside acting, and mentoring young, emerging artists has become a strong part of my own artistic identity. I guess I’d have to say (and there’s some insecurity here about the rather cruel adage “Those who can’t do—teach” ) that I am now probably a teacher first. But I still strongly identify as an actress, as well, and I’ve added producing theatre to my passion—specifically international devised collaborations.

Lucia: I started my journey as a professional artist twelve years ago and truly never looked back. I had the opportunity growing up to take classes and perform in my hometown and began to work at a professional regional theatre in 2011 that became my artistic home and has been ever since. I identify strongly as an actor and am incredibly passionate about my work as a dancer and a vocalist. I began to venture into commercial and television/film work, growing up so close to Los Angeles, and have been able to work on some exciting projects in that genre as well. 

Erica: I am an actor and a voice teacher. I have created and performed one-woman cabarets, sung in operas, performed in countless plays and musicals and have been lucky enough to be a part of developing new work and been in world premiere casts more than a dozen times. I have a private voice studio with more than 20 wonderfully passionate students at any given time. One of the most important things I do is use theatre as a tool for social justice in my work with other amazing theatre makers in Ithaca doing anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion workshops and plays. 

STATERA: Can you share about your journey to the Ithaca arts scene?

Erica: I studied to be an opera singer, and moved to NYC after graduating from Ithaca College's renowned music program to pursue that career. Once I decided to move back to Ithaca to go to grad school, however, I realized I had really dreamed of being a musical and straight theatre actor and began working regularly as such! I feel really lucky to be doing what truly I wanted to do, but was maybe too afraid to pursue in undergrad. The theatre world in Ithaca is extremely rich and varied, and I’ve been able to grow and learn so much from so many talented and passionate mentors here.

Lucia: Right in the middle of my frantic college hunt in my third year of high school was the first time I had ever heard of the Ithaca area, particularly Ithaca College. Suddenly, as though the universe had been listening, I started to hear about IC, particularly the Theatre Department, every day from different people in my life who had some odd connection to the town or the school. After some time in that college search I decided that Ithaca would be the right fit for me. I’m happy to say I was right. Coming here was a big change from my life on the West Coast but I have gotten to meet some of the most incredible artists and be a part of a vibrant community that I never expected to find so quickly. I had the pleasure of working with The Cherry Arts during my second year of undergrad and the best gift of all was meeting Erica Steinhagen there.

Kathleen: It’s a rather surprising story for me. I first came to Ithaca twenty five years ago as a Resident Artist as Cornell University. At that time, Cornell would bring several equity actors up to Ithaca for a year at a time to teach Acting 1 classes and perform in productions alongside their students. I ended up doing that for three years, met my husband at Cornell, and discovered my passion for teaching voice. When we left in 1995, I never imagined coming back. But twelve years later, a job came up, and I found myself back in Ithaca. It’s been hard for me here in Ithaca, to be honest. I feel as if I have a lot to offer as an actress, but the local theatre scene has proved to be very difficult for me to get a foothold in. Of course, I moved here just as I was hitting an age that is challenging for actresses (I moved here in my late 40’s) and that didn't help. I hope that our Statera chapter might offer support and community for women artists moving to Ithaca in the future.

STATERA: What is your own most memorable mentorship experience?

Lucia: There is a woman in my life named Deborah Gilmour Smyth. I met her for the first time in 2012 and I could never imagine having a more intelligent, kind-hearted, astronomically talented, strong, loving woman to look up to. She, as an artistic director in San Diego, took a chance on me and provided a theatrical space where I could thrive and develop my ethic and love for the work. To me, she is family, and not only an artistic mentor, but a life mentor. I would not be half of the artist I am today without her guidance and faith. 

Kathleen: A former student of mine, a young woman named Sarah Morrisette (Hebert-Johnson) had recently studied with Augosto Boal’s theatre in Brazil when I got a grant to create an original piece of theatre in Islamabad, Pakistan focused on personal stories about the Partition of 1947. I invited Sarah to join the project, and she and I traveled to Islamabad in 2015 to work with the Theatre Wallay company there. We worked with the company to create original monologues based on interviews with Partition survivors, and Sarah worked with the actors to create workshops for college students based on the Theatre of the Oppressed techniques she’d studied in Brazil. Sarah ended up working with us through the life of the year-long project, and her participation helped to make it the most rewarding artistic experience of my life.

Erica: In my earliest professional acting days, working under the guidance of brilliant directors like Wendy Dann, Susannah Berryman, and Rachel Lampert to name a few, I managed to absorb from them what probably amounted to a full masters degree in acting from their mentorship and patience!

STATERA: How did you become connected to Statera Mentorship? 

Kathleen: The Statera team invited me to speak about my project “Voices of Partition” at the first Statera conference in Cedar City, Utah. I’ve been passionately committed to the mission of Statera ever since.

Lucia: I am so lucky to have already made connections with artists in Ithaca that I admire and default to for my big questions and challenges. Two of those women are Kathleen Mulligan and Erica Steinhagen. They are people who I feel really “see” me and my artistry and have introduced me and invited me to join them in leading the Ithaca branch of Statera.

Erica: My friend, colleague, and co-coordinator Kathleen Mulligan approached me about it, and after a couple years of witnessing and hearing of her experiences at conferences, and the I was honored to become a part of it!

STATERA: Talk to us about your leadership style and why you're called to work in this capacity for your community. 

Erica: I think I’m the big sister. I like to be the loving push towards strategizing and meeting goals. With my students I am so glad that I am someone they can trust and come to as a sounding board in addition to being their teacher. Mentorship is something I do every single day, and it brings me so much joy to work in this capacity with my students, creating a safe space for them to explore and learn. I love so much seeing the successes of that work. 

Kathleen: Ithaca has a lot of artists—and a large number of women artists. But we’re all kind of existing in our own silos. In theatre (the group of artists I know best) there’s a lot of people vying for a very limited number of opportunities (with some of the choice ones going to people from NYC, etc.) We’re not a big city—and the community can only support so many theatres. I’d guess that it’s the same in music, dance, visual arts, etc. I know some really astonishing women artists in this town (one is Erica, my partner on this Statera initiative)- and I’d love to get us out of our silos and joining together to support each other and lift each other up.

Lucia: I feel so strongly that now, more than ever, is the time to lift up women in our arts community. We need these voices and these stories RIGHT NOW and I believe that Ithaca is a place where big steps can be made in changing the way women are seen in arts environments. As someone with dual passion in activism and the arts I am so grateful to now have a space to put that energy into action. I feel that this work in the Ithaca community will allow for change and growth here, I believe that this kind of change will branch out to other communities and be a spark for big growth in our national arts mentality.  

STATERA: What recent personal projects or upcoming projects are you excited about?

Lucia: I’m incredibly excited to say that I have been asked to be a part of Ithaca Shakespeare Company’s 2019 summer season and will be performing in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in July 2019 here in Ithaca. I have never worked on genuine summer stock theatre in rep before and I am so looking forward to that upcoming work. 

Erica: I am so proud to be a founding member of the Cherry Arts Collective, and we are soon to announce our upcoming season at our Cherry Blossom Gala on June 2! thecherry.org. I will be playing a dream role this summer as the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods at the Hangar Theatre June 28-July 13. hangartheatre.org.

Kathleen: I’ve been invited to perform the one woman show The Belle of Amherst in Beirut, Lebanon this coming October. So, my summer is going to be about getting that learned and produced! I’ll also be serving as a mentor in an official capacity for a rather astonishing student of mine at Ithaca College named Erin Lockett. Erin received a very competitive summer research grant from the college to create a one woman show based on the life of Lorraine Hansberry. So, my student and I will be working on parallel projects—both one woman shows- and both about women who were artistic revolutionaries!

Interested in learning more about Statera Mentorship? Visit www.stateraarts.org/mentorship.
Sign up for Statera Mentorship: Ithaca Chapter at
www.stateraarts.org/ithaca-mentorship.
And if you have questions, please visit
Statera Mentorship: Frequently Asked Questions.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

StateraArts to be Featured at Andromeda's Sisters Gathering

Featured speakers at Andromeda’s Sisters: (from left to right) Cathrine Curtin (Orange is the New Black), Sarah Greenman (StateraArts), Roberta Kaplan (renowned litigator), Amy Spitalnick (ED at Integrity First for America), and Ellen Dolan (As the World Turns).

Featured speakers at Andromeda’s Sisters: (from left to right) Cathrine Curtin (Orange is the New Black), Sarah Greenman (StateraArts), Roberta Kaplan (renowned litigator), Amy Spitalnick (ED at Integrity First for America), and Ellen Dolan (As the World Turns).

In keeping with their mission of raising visibility for women's issues, The Neo-Political Cowgirls (NPC) theatre collective is hosting their annual Andromeda’s Sisters Gala, June 14-23, at East Hampton's Guild Hall. NPC has invited StateraArts’ Operations Director, Sarah Greenman, to lead a workshop and panel on the final day of the gathering. Andromeda’s Sisters is a three-day gathering of advocacy, networking, play readings, and arts.

NPC Artistic Director Kate Mueth says, “We’re so excited to have StateraArts join us this year! We at NPC thrive on this energy of assisting and making connections. We see how imperative the intersection of arts and advocacy is in serving our communities, families and the industrious talents of women.”

In addition to her work as Statera’s Operations Director, Sarah Greenman is a playwright, painter, and educator. Sarah is joining an exciting line-up of activists working in various ways for social justice. Other speakers include nationally recognized litigator and co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, Roberta Kaplan and film and television actor Catherine Curtin, best known for her role as correctional officer Wanda Bell on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

Interested in attending Sarah Greenman’s workshop and interview on Sunday, June 23? Get your tickets HERE. Learn more about Andromeda’s Sisters HERE.

So Many Reasons to Become a Statera Member

Your annual Statera Membership gives you a wealth of benefits and opportunities to support your creative practice, build a base of collaborators, and connect to a dynamic and socially engaged community of artists and arts leaders. As part of the StateraArts community, you’ll also help transform the lives of others while receiving the benefits of StateraArts programs and opportunities.

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Pictured above: Yasmin Ruvalcaba Saludado. Below left: Yusef Seevers and Amy Smith. Below right: Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway. (Photos of Statera Conference in Milwaukee by Malloree Delayne Hill)

Become a member by choosing a yearly subscription below. General Membership is only $50 annually and Student Membership is only $35 annually. Statera’s Membership program is open to everyone: all gender identities, all races and ethnicities, all religions and creeds, countries of origin, all immigrants and refugees, all abilities and disabilities, and all sexual orientations. Everyone is welcome here.


MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS:

Networking

  • Membership includes a listing in the online member directory (forthcoming)

  • Meet and cultivate lasting relationships with professional women in the art and theatre world via Statera events

  • Share news and projects via the Statera Newsletter

  • Affiliation for educators and professionals (You’ll receive a digital file of your Statera Member Logo for your use upon purchase)

Special Access

  • Post and/or apply for jobs on the StateraArts Members page

  • Lifetime Inaugural Membership status

  • Access to StateraArts staff and board members

  • Access to Statera Member coalition-building events and gatherings

Professional Development

  • Attend Statera's webinars, panel discussions, and seminars for members

  • Engage in leadership and mentoring opportunities with your regional Statera Mentorship chapter

Discounts

Service to the Arts Community

  • Your membership is not only a wonderful way to invest in the future of StateraArts, but also a perfect vehicle to enhance positive action in your own communities and circles

Learn more and become a member at www.stateraarts.org/become-member. Do you have questions about Statera Membership? Please email Membership Director Vanessa Ballam at membership@stateraarts.org. Thank you!


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary.

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all.

May Adrales Joins Statera's 4th National Conference

Statera Keynote Speaker, May Adrales

Statera Keynote Speaker, May Adrales

Exciting news today! StateraArts is thrilled to announce that nationally recognized director and arts leader May Adrales will be delivering one of the keynote address at Statera's 4th National Conference. The conference, which is to take place at City College of New York in NYC, is scheduled for October 26-27, 2019.

May Adrales, a director, teacher and artistic leader, will be delivering on of the keynote addresses at Statera’s 4th National Conference. May helmed the world premiere of Lortel Award and Obie Award-Winning production VIETGONE at Manhattan Theatre Club/ South Coast Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Seattle Rep. She has just been named the Associate Artistic Director of Milwaukee Rep. May served as Director of On Site Programming at the Lark Play Development Center (2008-2010), developing programs to support and nurture over 200 playwrights. She served as an Artistic Associate at The Public Theater (2006-2009), spearheading the Shakespeare Lab, a professional conservatory. May is the recipient of the  TCG Alan Schneider Directing Award; Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s inaugural Denham Fellowship and the Paul Green Emerging Directing award.  She is a recipient of a TCG New Generations grant.  She has been awarded directing fellowships at New York Theater Workshop; Women's Project; SoHo Rep; and The Drama League.  She has directed and taught at NYU, Juilliard, American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Fordham University and Bard College. More information about May Adrales HERE.

Tony-winner Joanna Gleason was also announced last month as a keynote speaker for StateraConIV. Interested in attending? General registration is now open through September 30th. And Statera is still accepting breakout session proposals through May 31st. Submit your proposal HERE.

This is an incredible opportunity to meet with theatre professionals from all over the country for two days of networking, deep-dive learning, renewal, experience-sharing, and more! The Statera National Conference is all about intersectional gender balance and our goal is to take positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the American Theatre. 

Learn more about StateraConIV at www.stateraarts.org/conference.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

Statera Mentorship: Meet the Boston Regional Coordinators

Mentorship is at the core of Statera's mission of taking positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the arts. Statera Mentorship is now in the Boston Area and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the Boston Regional Coordinators. Here are some quick stats before we dive in:

Boston Chapter Founded: Winter 2019
Dates: Class I runs from July 1 - December 31, 2019
Application deadline: Class I mentor/mentee applications are due by June 1, 2019
Website: Statera Mentorship: Boston Area
Instagram: @StateraArts_Boston
Facebook: Statera Mentorship

Boston Regional Coordinators (left to right) Sarah Morrisette, Julie Hennrikus, and Caroline Cronin.

Boston Regional Coordinators (left to right) Sarah Morrisette, Julie Hennrikus, and Caroline Cronin.

STATERA: What do you see as the greatest need and/or the most common need for mentorship relationships?

Sarah: It’s so easy to feel isolated and alone in this industry. So much energy is spent comparing ourselves to each other through closed doors and amplifying the “us vs. them” syndrome. I believe we have so much to gain from working together instead. From celebrating each other's triumphs and learning from each other’s mistakes. Theatre is the most collaborative art form and we should reflect that in the way we work behind the scenes. I believe that by lifting each other up, we lift up ourselves. Mentorship relationships are a fantastic tool for creating opportunities and amplifying voices.

Julie: I give talks about making a career in the arts, and I often tell folks that this journey isn’t like other career paths that are highways with entrances, exits and rest areas. We’re all on a roller coaster ride. It is thrilling, and makes life more exciting, but the ride is constant, and exhausting. You’re not doing anything wrong if you feel overwhelmed, or if you need to work three jobs to make it all work. Often, too often, folks who have had amazing careers don’t think they should be mentors because they are still juggling. That’s wrong. We can all learn from each other. Folks who have been on the ride for a long time have a lot to offer.

Caroline: There is power in numbers and connectivity. We are all incredibly unique and valuable humans, and I think mentorship is a beautiful way to bring together people (in our case women) who already have so much to give individually, and who will be able to give so much more as a pair and then as a part of a movement.

STATERA: Tell us about your work in the theatre / or in the arts.

Julie Hennrikus: I’ve had a really interesting career so far. Like so many others, I wear more than one hat at a time. Recently I created Your Ladders, which is a subscription site for artists to learn business skills, get trainings, and have a supportive community on their artistic journey. I also teach arts management classes as adjunct faculty at different colleges. Finally, I am on my own journey as a published mystery author.

Sarah Morrisette: I am a Boston based actor, educator and collaborator. I’m currently the Education Associate at New Repertory Theatre, the professional theatre in residence at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA and the Resident Theatre Teaching Artist at Hyde Square Task Force, a youth community development organization in Jamaica Plain. These two positions have kept me extremely busy this past year!

Caroline Cronin: I have floated a bit around between London where I went to graduate school, New York City, and now I am back home in Boston pursuing my acting career here.

STATERA: Can you share about your journey to the Boston arts scene?

Sarah: I was born and raised right outside of Boston, so the city is very much my home. After graduating from Ithaca College in 2013 with my BFA in Acting, I was unsure what I wanted to do next. I had started studying Theatre of the Oppressed and felt a strong connection to social justice theatre. I lived in Mozambique, teaching theatre to youth and co-directing and producing a dance drama about personal stories of HIV/AIDS. I also did an internship at the Center for Theatre of the Oppressed (Centro de Teatro do Oprimido) in Rio de Janiero, Brazil and studied the techniques of Augusto Boal from the place it all originated. Since studying in Brazil, I have worked with various international projects, bringing my skills in social justice theatre techniques. These have included collaboration with Kathleen Mulligan, David Studwell and Theatre Wallay in Pakistan working on the Voices of Partition Project and the 4th annual meeting of Theatre of the Oppressed in Tome, Chile. In 2016 my boyfriend and I moved to Jamaica Plain. Boston seemed like the perfect place to dive back into performing and to create community.

Caroline: My journey here has just started! I wasn't very happy living in New York so I decided to come home for a little bit and see if I can break in here. I've been back home for less than a year so the past few months I have been trying to audition, and start making connections with anyone I can.

Julie: I’ve worked in the arts for over thirty years. Early on, I worked in small commercial theaters, as a company manager and a box office manager. I also ran the box office for the Institute of Contemporary Art for their 1990 Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment exhibition. I created what is now the Harvard Box Office. Then I went on to program 19 spaces, including Sanders Theater, as part of the Office for the Arts at Harvard. I moved on to Emerson College, where I was the General Manager and Director of Marketing of Emerson Stage. I also started teaching arts management courses while I was at Emerson. I moved on from there to run StageSource, a service organization for the New England performing arts community. That was an amazing opportunity to understand the needs of the sector on the front line, and to create resources to help. While I was at StageSource, we created the Gender Parity Task Force, the A11Y Initiative (to support Deaf artists and audiences), and the Gender Explosion Initiative (supporting and amplifying trans and non-binary artists). We started the Line Drawn Initiative, addressing sexual harassment in the performing arts community. I still work with the initiative, and am proud of the work that is being done.

STATERA: What is your own most memorable mentorship experience?

Caroline: This is about to be mine.

Julie: As a teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor a lot of folks over the years. One of my former students introduced me to their mother by saying “This is Julie. She tells us everything is going to be alright, and then helps us figure it out.” I am very proud to have been part of a number of journeys for folks. I’ve also been mentored, especially in my writing life. When I was writing my second contracted novel I mentioned that I was having trouble getting through the first draft to one of my mentors. She told me that a first draft was always like putting a log through a meat grinder--it never got easier. Then she said, “you’ve got this.” That was reassuring. I try and do the same thing when I’m mentoring folks. Let them know that the path isn’t always easy, provide some advice on how to navigate it, and then support them on their journey.

Sarah: I feel so strongly about the power of women mentorships. Many of my most memorable mentorship experiences stem from one special relationship I have to a former professor of mine, Kathleen Mulligan. Kathleen was my Voice and Speech professor at Ithaca College. During my time at school, we become close when she agreed to privately coach me on some vocal issues I was having. From the start she was an encouraging voice when I felt lost or unseen. After graduating, Kathleen invited me to join her project Voices of Partition, a collaboration with Theatre Wallay, a theatre company based in Islamabad, Pakistan. In January of 2015 we traveled to Islamabad together to conduct the first week of workshops with Theatre Wallay. There were so many moments on this incredible trip that to this day give me the chills. I remember sitting beside her on the flight as we descended into Islamabad. I was both scared of the unknown and felt on top of the world, pushing myself to take risks alongside someone I respected and cared for so much. Kathleen opened doors for me that have completely changed my life. To this day, our relationship is a reminder of the power of female connections.

STATERA: How did you become connected to Statera Mentorship? 

Sarah: Perfect transition! Kathleen introduced me to Statera. For many years Kathleen raved about the annual StateraArts Conference and how I “MUST” get myself there. After doing some research I was blown away that an organization like this even existed. I was completely in awe of the work this organization is doing and knew I wanted to be more involved somehow. During the conference, I attended a Statera Mentorship lunch to learn more about the program. By the end of the lunch hour, I was connected with Julie Hennrikus, who is now one of my fellow regional coordinators.

Caroline: A lovely friend of mine from college put me in touch with another lovely friend from college, Sarah, who had already begun working with Julie on the StateraArts Boston chapter. The second I heard about it, I knew I needed to be a part of it.

Julie: Because of the work I’ve done in the area of Gender Parity, Martha Richards reached out and invited me to a convening in Toronto. I met a great group of folks there, and we stayed in touch. She reached out again, and invited me to the Statera Conference last fall.

STATERA: Talk to us about your leadership style and why you're called to work in this capacity for your community. 

Julie: I am a good strategic thinker, but can also figure out tasks for folks. I’m also a good communicator, love to learn, and have a positive attitude. When I started teaching at Emerson, I found and fell in love with a new career path. I don’t just love teaching, I love lifting folks up on their path. There’s a part of me that understands folks need to be practical, but there’s a larger part of me that knows the only way we’re all going to get through this is if artists do their work. They’ve, we’ve, been called. The calling doesn’t always make sense. But the path is a joyous one. Not always happy, but joyous. If I can help someone feel better about their journey, and also provided resources and lessons to help them, I’m content with my path.

Sarah: I believe good leadership is based on strong communication, listening and trust. Through my studies of Theatre of the Oppressed and Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I believe that the needs of the community must come from the community itself and a true leader listens to their neighbors and creates systems and practices that reflect their immediate needs. I hope to work alongside fellow women* artists in Boston to create a community that is inclusive, supportive and joyful. Our mentorship chapter will have specific needs that may not be present in other cities. I want to be thoughtful in recognizing our needs and be a strong advocate for women’s* voices in the Boston theatre scene.

STATERA: What recent personal projects or upcoming projects are you excited about?

Sarah: Yes! Feel free to check out the websites of both organizations I’m working with right now to learn more. New Repertory Theatre’s Classic Repertory Company will be wrapping up our current season at the end of May but next year we will be touring unique adaptations of Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter. Do you know a school, community center, library or other venue that would be interested in booking our production? Reach out to sarahmorrisette@newrep.org for more information!

Hyde Square Task Force is an incredible organization for inner city youth that you should know about, if you don’t already. Their mission is “to amplify the power, creativity, and voices of youth, connecting them to Afro-Latin culture and heritage so they can create a diverse, vibrant Latin Quarter and build a just, equitable Boston.” Check out the website this summer for updates about our devised theatre performance - written and performed by HSTF youth!

Julie: When I started Your Ladders, I wanted to create an online business school for artists. I’ve morphed that into a subscription model that provides courses, but also provides a path of learning that will support folks as they navigate their path. The founder rate is $19 a month, and gives folks access to all the classes, an online community, and monthly webinars. I’m really excited about this new model, and would love folks to join me!

Caroline: I am just wrapping up a production of William Shakespeare’s Othello with a company called Seven Stages Shakespeare in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Everyone in the New England MUST put Seven Stages on their radar. They are doing amazing things. 

Interested in learning more about Statera Mentorship? Visit www.stateraarts.org/mentorship.
And if you have questions, please visit
Statera Mentorship: Frequently Asked Questions.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

The Power of Partnership: StateraArts & PAAL

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StateraArts and Parent Artist Advocacy League for the Performing Arts (PAAL) announce their national partnership with the goal to create complimentary and robust resources, solutions, and programming toward intersectional gender parity and sustainability through collaboration.

Deriving their name from the Latin word for balance, Statera is a national non-profit that takes positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the arts. They accomplish this through innovative programming, which includes dynamic conferences, their free resource directory, their membership network, and their national mentorship program. Statera also does this by working arm-in-arm with other organizations.

PAAL is an all-gender, all-discipline, national organization committed to acting as a resource hub and solutions replicator and generator for individuals and institutions seeking parent and caregiver support in the performing arts. Their programs include local chapter meet-ups, the first national all-discipline PAAL Childcare Grants, the PAAL Awarded national list of Family-Friendly theaters, and their PAAL National Handbook of Best Practices for Supporting Caregivers currently in pilot case studies.

Melinda Pfundstein is the Co-founder and Executive Director of StateraArts. Rachel Spencer Hewitt is the Founder of PAAL. The two first met at a TCG Think Tank on gender equity in 2017. They reconnected at Statera’s National Conference in Milwaukee last October and found that their organizations had grown on parallel paths. Hewitt presented a session at StateraCon with Adriana Gaviria called “Motherhood and Leadership: Initiatives for Upward Mobility” and also authored an article for the Statera Blog about Motherhood Bias. In the early weeks of 2019, Pfundstein and Hewitt met in NYC and hatched a plan for an innovative partnership with the dual purpose of enhancing the impact of their missions and accelerating policy change in the arts industry.

“Statera’s vision is to normalize humane and holistic creative environments where all people can show up as their most authentic, whole selves,” says Pfundstein. “PAAL is taking beautiful, sweeping action to show us a better way for organizations to support their people, and for parents and caregivers to advocate for themselves for such support.”

PAAL and Statera are already partnering through Statera Mentorship chapters in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia to ensure caregivers have access and support to engage in mentorship opportunities and events. Statera always welcomes families, and PAAL is proud to come on board to help put that mission into action. 

PAAL and StateraArts will soon announce the first recipients of the PAAL-Statera Childcare Institution Match Grant that has been given to an organization selected for their commitment to gender inclusion, childcare support, and to professional development for career sustainability. 

Statera and PAAL have planned several points of partnership for the year ahead including:

  • A free Parent Artist Resource Directory shared on both sites

  • Statera Mentorship Chapters collaborating with local PAAL Local Chapter cities and representatives

  • Statera’s 4th National Conference in NYC - full family access and PAAL consultants

  • The PAAL-Statera Childcare Match Grants for institutions

  • Statera and PAAL liaisons to serve each organization internally

  • Various Bridge Projects (to be announced in the months ahead)

"It has always been PAAL's mission to affect change by integrating the caregiver conversation into the landscape of effective action for equity and inclusion,” says Hewitt. “PAAL is an all gender, all discipline, national support organization for individuals and institutions that believes parent and caregiver support must be acknowledged through an intersectional lens. Caregiver responsibilities affect all people - including those without children - and advocating for and implementing supportive policy within the conversation of inclusion will revolutionize the concept of inclusion for everyone. We are thrilled to partner with StateraArts through mentorship programs, grants, and more in order to illustrate the relevance and interconnectedness of our collective points of access. This partnership will, as a result, create more robust opportunities through collaborative programming for individual artists and institutions to grow in sustainability, empathy, and efficacy."

Pfundstein, who is a mother to three children, says, “I am proud that Statera and PAAL have found one another to hone the parent-advocacy aspect of Statera’s work to bring women into full and equal participation in the arts. This is the area closest to my own mother-heart, and I am grateful to PAAL for advocating for me. We are stronger together.”


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

An Actress Prepares: Tiffany Hobbs Talks about Mental Health & Wellness

In this episode of “An Actress Prepares”, Tiffany Denise Hobbs talks about her strategies for maintaining mental health and wellness. Tiffany’s series offers mentorship for early career theatre artists as well as valuable insight for anyone wanting to know more about what it means to be a working actor. Click HERE to view last week’s episode about being on-set.

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AN ACTRESS PREPARES: MENTAL HEALTH & WELLNESS

by Tiffany Denise Hobbs

To be an actor means to have a pretty topsy-turvy life as you bounce from audition-to-audition, gig-to-gig and, sometimes, city-to-city. With such a lifestyle, many ups and downs are a given and staying healthy and well mentally can be a task. In this episode, I share some details with you on how I try to stay healthy and well mentally while in the biz. I hope this can serve as helpful for you!

P.S. I mention this resource in the video: The Therapy for Black Girls website is https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/.


Tiffany Hobbs was born and raised in Augusta, GA. Tiffany began dancing at the age of three. In the years following, she discovered a love for theater and music that augmented her passion to be a performing artist. She has trained for over two decades at prestigious liberal and performing arts institutions (UGA, SMU, Yale) and loves every minute of imitating life onstage, on set or in a rehearsal room. A former member of the Brierley Resident Acting Company at the Dallas Theater Center and featured actress at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, some of her favorite roles include Juanita in James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie, Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Tonya in August Wilson's King Hedley II.

Tiffany appeared as Shenzi in the National Tour of The Lion King for two years (2015-2017). On TV, she can be found co-starring in Donald Glover's FX hit, "Atlanta"; Netflix's "Ozark" and "The Haunting of Hill House"; the OWN Network's "Love Is ___"; CBS's "MacGyver," "Bull" and "Code Black"; and in SyFy's "Happy." In 2018, Tiffany joined the Broadway musical, Waitress, spear-headed by Sara Bareilles, Jessie Nelson and Diane Paulus. Tiffany just finished a run as Olivia in Twelfth Night at Yale Repertory Theatre and is about to open Much Ado About Nothing with Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theatre.

More at www.tiffanydenisehobbs.com

Statera's New Resource Directories for Trans & Non-binary Artists, Parents, and Disability Justice

Thank you to everyone who has been making use of the StateraArts Resource Directory! We can tell from our website analytics that this is a very popular Statera offering! Our directories are free and available to all. They are intended for artists and arts organizations alike. Our hope is that they offer solid information for artists seeking grant and residency opportunities, as well as educational tools for arts organizations, arts activists, and educators to bring to their communities. We're excited to announce that we've added three new directories.

A round table discussion for parent theatre artists at Statera’s National Conference in Denver in 2016. Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill

A round table discussion for parent theatre artists at Statera’s National Conference in Denver in 2016. Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill

PARENT ARTIST RESOURCE DIRECTORY

Statera’s first offering is a Parent Artist Resource Directory that Statera created in partnership with the Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL). Motherhood bias in the workplace is pervasive, casual, and unapologetic. Statera and PAAL are both dedicated to elevating the national standard of support for parent artists and caregivers. This resource list identifies best practices for arts organizations, highlights parent artist grants and family-friendly residencies, features parent artist networks, and also details inclusive resources for expecting parents of all genders.

Visit the Parent Artist Resource Directory >>>

Teresa Thuman, Artistic Director of Sound Theatre Co. in Seattle, WA, discussed her production of  The Rules of Charity  (pictured above) at Statera’s National Conference in 2018. Photo by Ken Holmes.

Teresa Thuman, Artistic Director of Sound Theatre Co. in Seattle, WA, discussed her production of The Rules of Charity (pictured above) at Statera’s National Conference in 2018. Photo by Ken Holmes.

DISABILITY JUSTICE RESOURCE DIRECTORY

Our second offering is a resource list dedicated to Disability Justice in the arts. The term “disability justice” was coined out of conversations between disabled queer women of color activists in 2005, including Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, and Stacy Milbern, seeking to challenge radical and progressive movements to more fully address ableism.

Disability justice recognizes the intersecting legacies of white supremacy, colonial capitalism, gendered oppression and ableism in understanding how people's’ bodies and minds are labelled ‘deviant’, ‘unproductive’, ‘disposable’ and/or ‘invalid’. This resource list features a treasure-trove of articles, books, videos, and guides for arts organizations seeking to get educated about real accessibility. Statera also highlights theaters, art festivals, and arts organizations specifically created by and for artists who experience disability.

Visit the Disability Justice Resource Directory >>>

Kevin Kantor presented a session entitled “Breaking The Binary: Creating & Upholding Spaces for Trans and Non-Binary Theater Makers On Stage & Beyond” at Statera’s National Conference in October 2018. Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill.

Kevin Kantor presented a session entitled “Breaking The Binary: Creating & Upholding Spaces for Trans and Non-Binary Theater Makers On Stage & Beyond” at Statera’s National Conference in October 2018. Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill.

TRANS & NON-BINARY RESOURCE DIRECTORY

Statera’s third offering is a Trans & Non-binary Resource Directory created in collaboration with transgender and non-binary artists. This list features a wide range of resources including national advocacy groups and legal support, educational media for arts organizations seeking to manifest true inclusion in their practices, theaters that feature work by transgender and non-binary artists, artist directories, and articles that deal with casting, hiring practices, and arts activism. We also provide information for trans families seeking support and community.

Visit the Trans & Non-binary Resource Directory >>>

And of course, we also offer the following resource directories:


StateraArts is committed to updating and maintaining this directory for your use. Please share it with your friends, colleagues, students, and organizations. We promise to keep it FREE TO ALL. These directories are living documents and are by no means exhaustive. If you would like to suggest resources to add to this list, please contact us at info@stateraarts.org

SWAN Day 2019 Photo Album & Gratitude

This year marked the 12th Annual SWAN Day and StateraArts was proud to be a part of it all! We were blown away by both your amazing creativity and the diversity of events and artists. Thanks so much to all of you who participated in Support Women Artists Now/SWAN Day this year as artists or audience members. This was the first year that SWAN Day was organized and promoted by StateraArts. We are deeply grateful to those who are carrying on the 12-year tradition of organizing SWAN events in their own communities and we’re thrilled at the amazing number of SWAN events that were new to the calendar this year!

Special thanks to: Jamie Bilgo Bruchman of SWAN Day MKE, Sophie Dowllar of SWAN Day Kenya, Jennifer Hill of SWAN Day CT, Deborah Magdalena of SWAN Day Miami, Charné & Rachel of SWAN Day Chicago, Christine Kellogg of SWAN Day Pensacola, Vanessa Gendron of SWAN Day Prague, Sheila Kalkbrenner of SWAN Days Allegany County, Karin Hendricks of SWAN Day Central Coast, Deborah Gaffney of SWAN Day Houston, Martha Richards of WomenArts, Jan Huttner of FF2 Media, Brenda Foley of The Bridge Initiative, Kristen van Ginhoven of WAM Theatre, Jennie Webb of Los Angeles Women’s Female Playwright Initiative, Avis Boone of Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, the League of Professional Theatre Women, SAG-AFTRA, The Kilroys, and so many others. You inspire us everyday!

For those of you who tuned into our first ever Virtual SWAN Day Party on Facebook, thank you! We loved seeing the videos and photos of your events. Today on the Statera Blog, we’re sharing some of our favorite photos from this year’s festivities. It was difficult to narrow it down because there were so many! We’ve also been sharing photos via Instagram using #SWANDay2019. So check it all out!

Miami, FL

SWAN Day Miami: Spoken Soul Festival (Photo by Angel Valentine)

SWAN Day Miami: Spoken Soul Festival (Photo by Angel Valentine)

Spoken Soul Festival celebrated SWAN Day with their annual three-day spoken word festival. For more information about these phenomenal women and the impact of this incredible flagship event, check out their feature on the Statera Blog. See photos of the entire event HERE.


Nairobi, Kenya

12th Annual SWAN Day Kenya

12th Annual SWAN Day Kenya

SWAN Day Kenya celebrated their 12th year with a day-long festival in Nairobi. This flagship event is a musical concert, complete with poetry /spoken word and artistic displays with a thematic approach to building co-existence and national cohesion. Read more about their incredible event HERE.


Los Angeles, CA

SWAN Day Los Angeles hosted by the LAFPI

SWAN Day Los Angeles hosted by the LAFPI

The Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative (LAFPI) hosts a “Micro Reads” event every year. Pictured above are the fabulous SoCal artists that showed up for SWAN Day Los Angeles hosted by the LAFPI at A Noise Within Theatre Company in Pasadena, CA. Read more about their event HERE.


Santa Maria, CA

SWAN Day Central Coast at the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA)

SWAN Day Central Coast at the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA)

SWAN Day Central Coast hosted its first ever SWAN event this year! Organized by women* artists at PCPA Theatrefest in Santa Maria, SWAN Day Central Coast celebrated with a production of Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves” followed by a speaker event and reception. Welcome to the family, PCPA! Read more about their event HERE.


Pensacola, FL

SWAN Day Pensacola - visual artists panel discussion

SWAN Day Pensacola - visual artists panel discussion

SWAN Day Pensacola also hosted its first ever SWAN event this year! Organized by women* artists at PenArts, SWAN Day Pensacola celebrated with a day-long festival featuring theatre artists, musicians, poets, and visual artists. To learn more about the incredible line-up of women artists who made the 1st annual SWAN Day Pensacola a realty, check out their feature on the Statera Blog.


New York, NY

SWAN Day NY

SWAN Day NY

The photo above was taken at the screening of “This Changes Everything” hosted by New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) and partners (Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, FF2 Media, SAG-AFTRA, HerFLix and others) in celebration of the 12th annual International SWAN Day.

Recipients of the Theatre Women Awards

Recipients of the Theatre Women Awards

The League of Professional Theatre Women held their annual Theatre Women Awards ceremony at the Sheen Center this year. Recipients included May Adrales, The Kilroys, and many others. Read more about their event HERE.

The Black is Beautiful Project “12 Angry Men” team: Gabrielle Reid, Kimber Sprawl, Tiffany Evariste, Ashley Alexandra Seldon, Ashley Blanchet, Alex Hairston, Bahiyah Hibah, TyNia Brandon, LaQuet Sharnell Pringle, Housso Semon, Salisha Thomas, Gabrielle Elisabeth, Schele Williams, and Jasmin Walker (Photo by Julia Johanos)

The Black is Beautiful Project “12 Angry Men” team: Gabrielle Reid, Kimber Sprawl, Tiffany Evariste, Ashley Alexandra Seldon, Ashley Blanchet, Alex Hairston, Bahiyah Hibah, TyNia Brandon, LaQuet Sharnell Pringle, Housso Semon, Salisha Thomas, Gabrielle Elisabeth, Schele Williams, and Jasmin Walker (Photo by Julia Johanos)

Inspired by the successful reading of the classic play, “Twelve Angry Men,” by Reginald Rose featuring 12 extraordinary Broadway actresses, producer Lauren Class Schneider invited women in law schools, universities, high schools, community and regional theaters, and community centers across the country to raise their voices – with scripts in hand – in readings of the play with all-female casts over the weekend of April 5-8, 2019. The Black is Beautiful Project kicked off this amazing national initiative, presenting the first and only all African-American Female reading of "12 Angry Men". To learn more about these incredible women and this national initiative, check out their feature on the Statera Blog.


New Britain, CT

Photos from 2019 SWAN Day CT by Mandi Martini.

Photos from 2019 SWAN Day CT by Mandi Martini.

Now in its 12th year, SWAN Day Connecticut brings trailblazing women artists together for a multi-genre music and arts festival. This one-of-a-kind event attracts people from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. To learn more about this year’s artist line-up, check out their feature on the Statera Blog.


Baton Rouge, LA

SWAN Day Baton Rouge

SWAN Day Baton Rouge

Now in its second year in celebration of SWAN Day, Jackie Vanderbeck hosted a collaborative afternoon of women+ playwrights. This event is an opportunity to expand awareness of plays by women+ so that participants can be ambassadors and advocate for women’s voices in the arts. Read more about their event HERE.


Galveston, TX

Featured artists at G Lee Gallery’s SWAN Day Art Exhibit.

Featured artists at G Lee Gallery’s SWAN Day Art Exhibit.

This photo is shared courtesy of G. Lee Gallery in Galveston, Texas where they hosted a SWAN Day Juried Art show featuring local women artists. Learn more about their event HERE.


As part of our 2019 SWAN Day programming, StateraArts also conducted a series of SWAN Day interviews with women* artists, playwrights, and arts leaders. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, follow the links below.

SWAN Day events are still happening, so make sure to continue following the 2019 SWAN Day Calendar. And of course, StateraArts continues to post about these events on Facebook and Instagram!


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

An Actress Prepares: Tiffany Hobbs Talks About a Day On Set

It's Wednesday, which means its time for another installment of “An Actress Prepares” with Tiffany Denise Hobbs. Today, Tiffany walks us through a day on set. And while she can’t actually film on set (that’s a no-no), she invites us to share the in-between moments. Tiffany’s series offers mentorship for early career theatre artists as well as valuable insight for anyone wanting to know more about what it means to be a working actor. Click HERE to view last week’s episode about “survival jobs” for actors.

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AN ACTRESS PREPARES: A Day On Set

by Tiffany Denise Hobbs

In today’s video, you can follow me during a day on set as a co-star. I’ll share with you how I prepare and my journeys and thoughts throughout the day. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below, too!


Tiffany Hobbs was born and raised in Augusta, GA. Tiffany began dancing at the age of three. In the years following, she discovered a love for theater and music that augmented her passion to be a performing artist. She has trained for over two decades at prestigious liberal and performing arts institutions (UGA, SMU, Yale) and loves every minute of imitating life onstage, on set or in a rehearsal room. A former member of the Brierley Resident Acting Company at the Dallas Theater Center and featured actress at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, some of her favorite roles include Juanita in James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie, Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Tonya in August Wilson's King Hedley II.

Tiffany appeared as Shenzi in the National Tour of The Lion King for two years (2015-2017). On TV, she can be found co-starring in Donald Glover's FX hit, "Atlanta"; Netflix's "Ozark" and "The Haunting of Hill House"; the OWN Network's "Love Is ___"; CBS's "MacGyver," "Bull" and "Code Black"; and in SyFy's "Happy." In 2018, Tiffany joined the Broadway musical, Waitress, spear-headed by Sara Bareilles, Jessie Nelson and Diane Paulus. Tiffany just finished a run as Olivia in Twelfth Night at Yale Repertory Theatre and is about to open Much Ado About Nothing with Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theatre.

More at www.tiffanydenisehobbs.com

Statera Envisions the Future

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Statera Envisions the Future

by Melinda Pfundstein, Executive Director of StateraArts


We are often asked what Statera wants for the future – for our vision so-to-speak, and our quick response has always been, “For our mission to be made obsolete. Force us to rewrite it.” The mission of bringing women* into full and equal participation in the arts serves as our guide, but Statera is looking forward and doing things a little differently.

We envision a new normal where the work is no longer about advocating and building space, pathways, and support for women (our current mission), but rather to be engaged in the important work of acting as stewards to the space that exists.

We posit that there is enough space and we are actively disrupting the habit of pretending there is not, or that we need to compete for it. We know that this work requires all of us, and we hear from you: the communities we serve and our collaborative partners, reflecting to us the importance of this way of operating. You tell us of our refreshing spirit of collaboration. You reflect your appreciation and relief at how we operate through positive action and possibility.

All of this is because we set out to do things differently. This way of operating requires our own team -- every day, to disrupt and dismantle our own ingrained beliefs about competition and lack. As we do so, we challenge the same of our sector. It is a conscious choice and requires continuous practice. We hear you. We serve you. Thank you for sharing your reflections with us, for our vision is clear: 

STATERA, deriving its name from the Latin word for balance,
normalizes a humane and holistic creative environment that nourishes innovation.  


What does this mean?
Allow us to tell you a little about our values:  

We believe the arts should be created by and for more people

The stories we tell matter, in every medium expressed. They shape our lives. They educate us. They show us a better way. They keep us honest and hopeful. If received with inquiry and curiosity they offer a most precious gift: the opportunity to self-interrogate and grow. All people deserve to see themselves represented in art. 

We believe all people deserve to show up as their most whole and authentic selves.

Every single person deserves to bring their whole being to their work, their art, and their collaborations. Environments not conducive to showing up whole force us to wear a protective shell and hide our beautiful intersections and multi-faceted identities. When we can show up authentically to our work, we engage the magic of possibility, true collaborative spirit, great compassion, and radical innovation for previously unimagined solutions. Aren’t these the attributes we crave in our creative sector? When people show up whole and are appreciated for their individual strengths and perspectives, “work” is easeful (not to be confused with easy) and energizing. This leads to greater job satisfaction, higher production, and lower attrition rates. Furthermore, we posit that the future of the arts needs all of us to show up whole to remain relevant. We need each other whole. 

We believe in the responsibility to actively foster humane and holistic work environments.

As we change the landscape of the arts so that all people can show up more wholly in their work, we must interrogate the way we operate. As more intersections are represented within our organizations, so grows the requirement for thinking outside of the box about making our professional environments supportive of these intersections. This is not about “performing” inclusion but about committing to integrated bone-deep inquiry through a feminist, anti-racist lens.

We believe in collaboration.

The message we hear most from women is one of isolation. Statera holds that isolation is a lie. Sarah Greenman, Statera’s Operations Director, shared her own practice of scribing this phrase at the top of every written draft and we have adopted it organization-wide as a reminder of why we choose collaboration over competition. There is enough space. We are simply not in the practice of using it by and for more people.

We believe in leading with compassion.

The change we seek is not an overnight fix. Learning takes time, and we value deep learning that leads to implementation rather than broad strokes for checking boxes and quotas. The nonprofit arts sector relies on the good will of our teams and communities, paid and unpaid. It is our responsibility as makers and collaborators to take care of one another. At Statera, we foster respect and celebrate one another’s strengths. When it comes to organizational culture, we trust that those in positions of power will do the right thing and to take care of their people. Leaders must operate in a state of radical inquiry rather than one of knowing. We do not know what we do not know… until we know it. And once we know it, we must lean into the discomfort of learning how to do more– and then do it. 

We believe in practice.

We actively interrogate and disrupt our own outdated habits, beliefs, and blindspots as an organization. We learn from our peers and we partner with organizations doing – and ready to be doing the same. Practice makes possibility.

In coming days, we will announce the first of many partnerships that actively disrupt isolation and allow us to work together to make our vision for the future of the arts a reality. This is our way of actively disrupting competitive culture – a paralytic habit that seemingly runs rampant. How do we breathe into slow art and make incremental, lasting change and at the same time, drive for sweeping, topsy-turvy, revolutionary transformation in our sector? We do it together.

Would you like to know more? www.stateraarts.org


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all. 

An Actress Prepares: Tiffany Hobbs Talks About Survival Jobs

In this episode of “An Actress Prepares”, Tiffany Denise Hobbs talks about the realities and flexibility of “survival jobs”. Tiffany’s series offers mentorship for early career theatre artists as well as valuable insight for anyone wanting to know more about what it means to be a working actor. Click HERE to view last week’s episode about an actor’s journey on opening night.

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AN ACTRESS PREPARES: Survival Jobs

by Tiffany Denise Hobbs

Hey Statera! Big announcement: my next show will be back in the Big Apple! I’ll be joining some amazing folks in Shakespeare In The Park’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Delacorte Theatre! But today, I want to talk about “survival jobs”. For many working actors, having jobs outside of our acting gigs is essential early in our careers, mainly to supplement our income. So, let’s jump in!

Tiffany Hobbs was born and raised in Augusta, GA. Tiffany began dancing at the age of three. In the years following, she discovered a love for theater and music that augmented her passion to be a performing artist. She has trained for over two decades at prestigious liberal and performing arts institutions (UGA, SMU, Yale) and loves every minute of imitating life onstage, on set or in a rehearsal room. A former member of the Brierley Resident Acting Company at the Dallas Theater Center and featured actress at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, some of her favorite roles include Juanita in James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie, Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Tonya in August Wilson's King Hedley II.

Tiffany appeared as Shenzi in the National Tour of The Lion King for two years (2015-2017). On TV, she can be found co-starring in Donald Glover's FX hit, "Atlanta"; Netflix's "Ozark" and "The Haunting of Hill House"; the OWN Network's "Love Is ___"; CBS's "MacGyver," "Bull" and "Code Black"; and in SyFy's "Happy." In 2018, Tiffany joined the Broadway musical, Waitress, spear-headed by Sara Bareilles, Jessie Nelson and Diane Paulus. Tiffany just finished a run as Olivia in Twelfth Night at Yale Repertory Theatre and is about to open Much Ado About Nothing with Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theatre.

More at www.tiffanydenisehobbs.com

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

Count Me In: Volunteers Are an Essential Part of Doing Business

Today, StateraArts is publishing the final installation in a 4-part series by Meg Friedman based on her research COUNT ME IN: Leveraging Generational Differences to Sustain Volunteer Engagement. Here are the links to Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3.

Art by Sarah Greenman

Art by Sarah Greenman

Count Me In: Volunteers Are an Essential Part of Doing Business

By Meg Friedman

 

This is about the value of volunteers.

Volunteer labor has been a substitute for capital since the start of the regional theater movement – and certainly, freely given labor has been a reality of community life for much, much longer than that.

It is time for the theater industry to recognize that volunteer labor is part of the cost of doing business. Without this subsidy, in the ticket-takers and annual fund callers and interns and more, many theaters would be fundamentally different – and some would close. (Imagine a theater festival without volunteers – pretty bleak, right?) In no way am I advocating for a field where all personnel are paid staff. As Michael Stotts gently observed, in a 2017 conversation, it’s important for the community and the theater to have the special relationship that comes from giving time. Community endorsement must be represented in more than dollars and cents. But the status quo around volunteer labor cannot survive the next fifty years without meaningful change.

Volunteer time has value, and if all our value-assessing tools are in dollars and cents, then time given should be accounted for in financial reporting. This will, and should, prompt changes in how funders and theaters evaluate success.

Volunteers are part of the workforce. They should be counted and understood as deeply as the paid members of that workforce. How can the theater sector advocate for better inclusion of women, people of color, youth, people with disabilities, and more and more marginalized groups, without counting volunteers? We manage to count so much already – the thirst for data is almost comical (a colleague recently described one organization with over 160 Key Performance Indicators – one of which is “How Many KPIs Do We Have”). If we state that the number of people involved in theater must be representative of any particular place or people, we have to include all the people who are making theater happen.

What next?

If we don’t develop new ways to value, welcome, and stay engaged with tomorrow’s volunteers, the not-for-profit theater sector’s most valuable subsidy will dry up. Plenty of theaters worried about going belly-up in the wake of the Great Recession (and plenty did – but many more have sprung up to take their place). Theaters are now, as I write this, in the third year of rallying along with museums, libraries, and other vital cultural institutions to save the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute for Library Sciences, and other crucial sources of federal funding. But the decreasing number of volunteers is a ticking time bomb that has no federal budget line, and represents far more value than the NEA’s $152 million budgeted dollars in the last year.

So, what does that mean? Lots of things, for lots of stakeholders. Below are some broad suggestions geared toward funders, theater workers, and the people who work or volunteer in any supervisory role in theaters.

  • Count volunteers. Not just a headcount – understand the demographic and characteristics, and benchmark these data against peer theaters. TCG’s annual budget survey is tremendous and provides a model for this kind of peer benchmarking.

  • Find or make new pathways to connect volunteers to theaters. What tasks can volunteers do remotely? From board meetings to social media to script coverage to travel planning, plenty of tasks can be given to volunteers that do not require them to appear, dressed a certain way and already having eaten dinner, at 6:00pm sharp. Game-ifying these experiences could also minimize the sense that this is just work, done for no pay.

  •  Don’t “throw some volunteers at it.” Talking about volunteers as a trivial or infinite resource undermines the value of the gift and the experience on all sides. Teaching young theater professionals – many of whom are stepping away from unpaid internships themselves – to value and respect volunteers is essential to building the sector. Yesterday’s interns are tomorrow’s executives, and those of us in between those points have a responsibility to be inclusive of the workers around us, regardless of their pay scale.

Theaters are viable because of volunteer hours. Counting who volunteers, and the value of their time – and understanding how volunteers identify – is an imperative to continuing relevance.

This blog has been adapted from Count Me In: Leveraging Generational Differences To Sustain Volunteer Engagement. For the full report, click HERE. Here are the links to Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3.


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Meg Friedman is a Consultant with AMS Planning & Research, where her work includes strategic planning, facility feasibility, and a range of other research and decision-making services. Meg’s work touches arts and entertainment industry trends ranging from consumer preferences to venue design and the arts workforce. She has created dynamic financial models for small planning studies to multi-million-dollar facilities.

Past projects include the inaugural strategic plan for Assets for Artists, a program of MASS MoCA, and a strategic plan for the New England Foundation for the Arts. Meg has researched trends and best practices in arts venue development for the City of Boise, Idaho, the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and the City of Vaughan, Ontario. She has provided research for a chapter in Routledge’s Performing Arts Center Management and was a contributor to the 11th edition of Stage Management by Lawrence Stern and Jill Gold. Current projects include the planning of a new performing arts center in Sarasota, Florida, and research to define an arts sector investment strategy for The McConnell Foundation in Redding, California.

Meg holds a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Goucher College and a BA in Theater Design and Production from UCLA. Prior to joining AMS, Meg was an AEA stage manager and worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as at leading regional theaters. She also served as a moderator for SMNetwork.org, the original free web forum for stage managers.

Meg tweets from @AMSarts and @megf_miles.

Count Me In: The Future of Volunteerism is Age-Diverse

Volunteer labor has been a substitute for capital since the start of the regional theater movement. Without this subsidy many theaters would be fundamentally different – and some would close. If we don’t develop new ways to value, welcome, and stay engaged with tomorrow’s volunteers, the not-for-profit theater sector’s most valuable subsidy will dry up. StateraArts is thrilled to publish a 4-part series this week by Meg Friedman based on her research COUNT ME IN: Leveraging Generational Differences to Sustain Volunteer Engagement.

Art by Sarah Greenman

Art by Sarah Greenman

Count Me In, Part 3: The Future of Volunteerism is Age-Diverse

by Meg Friedman 

The received wisdom in many not-for-profit theaters is that volunteers will be older (and whiter, and female). This is dangerous. While NEA data from 2005 supports the notion that arts volunteers are older than people volunteering in other parts of the sector, more recent studies suggest that older people are less able to volunteer than in years past.

Older Americans Are Retiring Later – Or Leaving Town When They Do Retire

As the Baby Boomers began aging into retirement, plenty of pundits anticipated a glut of volunteer labor. This enthusiasm has been dampened by the long-term consequences of the Great Recession. And many Boomers anticipate working at least part-time during retirement.

Many, if not most, of the Boomers currently contemplating retirement are pushing the horizon ahead. Those who choose to retire now may be facing significant economic stress, due to damaged savings over the past decade. Phil Santora, Managing Director of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, observed to me in 2017 that even when prospective volunteers retired in his community, the cost of living in the Bay Area was so high that they quickly moved to less expensive areas – depleting, rather than adding to, the volunteer population.

Income-Generating Activity Absorbs the Time Millennials and Younger Adults Could Spend Volunteering

Economic insecurity – actual or perceived – may be forcing younger adults to fill otherwise volunteer-able hours with activities that generate income. Driving for a rideshare service, offering services on Fiverr or similar platforms, and more side hustles are increasingly common ways to fill marginal amounts of time. These activities are also flexible – whereas volunteering to usher an 8:00pm performance is decidedly not.  

Younger workers, a great many of whom are freelancers, may also be less frequently exposed to volunteer opportunities through workplace initiatives. Robert McGuire, founding principal of Nation1099, observed that the remarkable growth of gig work, while beneficial to many workers individually, likely undermines pathways to volunteerism that traditional workplaces once fostered. Terry Delavan, longtime theater volunteer and past Board President of the Conference About Volunteers Of Regional Theatres, expressed concern that workplace policies may also limit otherwise interested volunteers – by allowing just 16 hours annually, for instance, rather than making room for more substantial commitments.

Volunteer Programs and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Some theaters are ahead of the pack – but many are playing catch-up when it comes to connecting volunteer programs with the work in equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Danny Feldman, Executive Artistic Director at the Pasadena Playhouse, shared his candid concerns about creating a more age-diverse and age-inclusive environment, when many existing volunteers at the Playhouse represented a single demographic profile. While it may not be possible for every theater to maintain an age-diverse volunteer corps, confirmation bias and implicit ageism in recruitment and retention practices may undermine the way volunteer programs advance EDI priorities. And volunteer programs should advance EDI priorities, just like every other part of the institution. 

This blog has been adapted from Count Me In: Leveraging Generational Differences To Sustain Volunteer Engagement. For the full report, click HERE.

Tomorrow, StateraArts will publish Count Me In, Part 4: Volunteers Are an Essential Part of Doing Business. Here are the links to Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 4.


Meg Friedman Headshot.jpg

Meg Friedman is a Consultant with AMS Planning & Research, where her work includes strategic planning, facility feasibility, and a range of other research and decision-making services. Meg’s work touches arts and entertainment industry trends ranging from consumer preferences to venue design and the arts workforce. She has created dynamic financial models for small planning studies to multi-million-dollar facilities.

Past projects include the inaugural strategic plan for Assets for Artists, a program of MASS MoCA, and a strategic plan for the New England Foundation for the Arts. Meg has researched trends and best practices in arts venue development for the City of Boise, Idaho, the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and the City of Vaughan, Ontario. She has provided research for a chapter in Routledge’s Performing Arts Center Management and was a contributor to the 11th edition of Stage Management by Lawrence Stern and Jill Gold. Current projects include the planning of a new performing arts center in Sarasota, Florida, and research to define an arts sector investment strategy for The McConnell Foundation in Redding, California.

Meg holds a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Goucher College and a BA in Theater Design and Production from UCLA. Prior to joining AMS, Meg was an AEA stage manager and worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as at leading regional theaters. She also served as a moderator for SMNetwork.org, the original free web forum for stage managers.

Meg tweets from @AMSarts and @megf_miles.

Count Me In: Racial Disparity in Theatre Personnel Hurts The Future

Volunteer labor has been a substitute for capital since the start of the regional theater movement. Without this subsidy many theaters would be fundamentally different – and some would close. If we don’t develop new ways to value, welcome, and stay engaged with tomorrow’s volunteers, the not-for-profit theater sector’s most valuable subsidy will dry up. StateraArts is thrilled to publish a 4-part series this week by Meg Friedman based on her research COUNT ME IN: Leveraging Generational Differences to Sustain Volunteer Engagement.

Art by Sarah Greenman

Art by Sarah Greenman

Count Me In, Part 2: Racial Disparity in Theatre Personnel Hurts The Future

By Meg Friedman

Regional American Theaters are viable because of volunteer hours. Counting who volunteers, and the value of their time – and understanding how volunteers identify – is an imperative to continuing relevance.

American communities are changing. Among other expert sources, the Pew Research Center tells us that within just a few decades, the notion of a white majority in the US will be more myth (or memory) than fact. There is no value judgment here about what shifting racial demographics mean, but it is critical that theaters anticipate this in their programming, staffing, and organizational strategy. Neglecting to do so almost certainly consigns theaters to dwindling financial and personnel resources, as their cultural relevance is reduced to a smaller and smaller slice of the population.

Data on audiences, staff, and freelance artists show that, as an industry, American not-for-profit theaters are overwhelmingly white. Yet there is no comprehensive approach to documenting and understanding the demographics of the people who make theater. Audience studies, analyses of staff and freelance workers, and Board studies all get done. Some of them are shared with the public, but where is a comprehensive data collection model? If it exists, it’s behind a pay wall. Simply: we do not have the tools to state with confidence that the people connected, in any fashion, to theaters in the US resemble the general population more or less than they did five, ten, or twenty years ago, or that we as a sector can understand what changes may be needed to stay relevant as demographic changes continue to shape our communities. As stakeholders throughout the arts question representation more thoughtfully and forcefully, we must find a better way to count who is engaged with the field. 

Okay, so what does that look like?

One of the first gaps to address is the big, generous elephant in the room: the volunteers. From ushers to occasional painters, potluck dinner chefs to folks who pour Dixie cups of wine at fundraisers, this unpaid labor force is vital to doing business and virtually invisible in the accounting. It is also highly likely that it is even more white than the Boards, staff, freelancers, and audiences of theaters.

According to national data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the volunteer rate has been dropping for all racial and ethnic groups except people identifying as Hispanic since 2011. For all non-white groups, the volunteer rate has remained consistently under 22% – suggesting, that a) volunteer data from organizations of color don’t get counted, or b) that available volunteer opportunities are not as appealing to people of color as they are to white people.

COUNT+ME+IN+fig.png

What should we do about this? Start counting – people, hours, demographics, and the equivalent in dollars that volunteers give through their contributions of time.

While for some theaters it might be risky to reverse-engineer volunteer hours into their cash flow or tax return, it’s also terribly risky to leave this labor force out of the math altogether. Danny Feldman, Producing Artistic Director at the Pasadena Playhouse, shared concerns when we spoke in 2017 that the perceived value (and retention) of volunteers was a strategic challenge for the field; in the time since, the Friends of the Pasadena Playhouse has revamped its website, and now proudly states the dollar value of the hours contributed for the most recent year – a whopping $921,734.02 in 2018, representing over 32,000 hours. (The Friends used the Independent Sector rate for State of California to reach this assessment – more about that here.) 

The existing data on volunteer demographics is vanishingly slim. (For a thoughtful examination of volunteer trends and issues in LA County, see this report. I’d love to see this approach reproduced on a grander scale.) A service organization like TCG, which already gathers extensive theater data, could lead the conversation toward personnel makeup and a broader definition of resources than just financial data. With respect for the TCG Board, staff, and volunteers, this effort may simply not be desirable or feasible. But the opportunity is open for a researcher or organization to start counting. Before falling volunteer availability and interest cause serious pain in the field, we should understand who’s subsidizing the work with their time – so we can plan accordingly.

This blog has been adapted from Count Me In: Leveraging Generational Differences To Sustain Volunteer Engagement. For the full report, click HERE. Here are the links to Part 1 , Part 3, and Part 4.


Meg Friedman Headshot.jpg

Meg Friedman is a Consultant with AMS Planning & Research, where her work includes strategic planning, facility feasibility, and a range of other research and decision-making services. Meg’s work touches arts and entertainment industry trends ranging from consumer preferences to venue design and the arts workforce. She has created dynamic financial models for small planning studies to multi-million-dollar facilities.

Past projects include the inaugural strategic plan for Assets for Artists, a program of MASS MoCA, and a strategic plan for the New England Foundation for the Arts. Meg has researched trends and best practices in arts venue development for the City of Boise, Idaho, the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and the City of Vaughan, Ontario. She has provided research for a chapter in Routledge’s Performing Arts Center Management and was a contributor to the 11th edition of Stage Management by Lawrence Stern and Jill Gold. Current projects include the planning of a new performing arts center in Sarasota, Florida, and research to define an arts sector investment strategy for The McConnell Foundation in Redding, California.

Meg holds a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Goucher College and a BA in Theater Design and Production from UCLA. Prior to joining AMS, Meg was an AEA stage manager and worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as at leading regional theaters. She also served as a moderator for SMNetwork.org, the original free web forum for stage managers.

Meg tweets from @AMSarts and @megf_miles.

Count Me In: If Volunteers Are More Highly Valued, Does Volunteer Work Become More or Less Gendered?

Volunteer labor has been a substitute for capital since the start of the regional theater movement. Without this subsidy many theaters would be fundamentally different – and some would close. If we don’t develop new ways to value, welcome, and stay engaged with tomorrow’s volunteers, the not-for-profit theater sector’s most valuable subsidy will dry up. StateraArts is thrilled to publish a 4-part series this week by Meg Friedman based on her research COUNT ME IN: Leveraging Generational Differences to Sustain Volunteer Engagement.

Art by Sarah Greenman

Art by Sarah Greenman

Count Me In, Part 1: If Volunteers Are More Highly Valued, Does Volunteer Work Become More or Less Gendered?

By Meg Friedman

Most Volunteers Are Women For a Reason – But Does The Reason Still Exist?

Women – particularly cisgender, heterosexual women, actually or presumed to be living in marriage – have been the prototypical volunteer imagined by not-for-profit leaders for decades. As the arts and culture sector exploded in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, a twenty-year long effort to put women back in the kitchen after World War II meant that a corps of energized women had the ability and appetite to do work outside the home – with a decreasing number of outlets for that desire. Volunteering in the not-for-profit space could satisfy at least part of that desire. While it wasn’t (and still isn’t) recognized as participation in the economy, volunteering can closely mirror all the other benefits of working: exercising and expanding one’s skills; participating in a shared effort to reach a common, visible goal; contributing to a purpose larger than oneself; learning; and opportunities to connect meaningfully with new people.

Over the past 50 years, however, women’s economic participation has rightly earned closer attention and become easier to capture in data. Thanks to generations of activism, and the expanding definition of “women” educational and professional opportunities have become more accessible and the legal environment incrementally more supportive of anti-discrimination, anti-sexist practices. Generation X, people born (roughly) between 1960 and 1980 in the US, saw for the first time a critical reversal: more women than men completed college degrees. While the pay gap remains unresolved, any education gap has been closed for over a decade – perhaps an early sign of a major shift in volunteer participation.

When Women Already Have Social Capital, is Volunteering Necessary?

With more formal education – and as a result more professional opportunities and obligations – do women need to volunteer? And can they? Fifty years ago, my grandmother and her peers could not be the sole signatory on a bank account, much less assume they would author their own professional story. Now, women are perceived to be delaying key life milestones in favor of building educational credentials and a stable career. It should go without saying that meeting these goals requires an overwhelming investment of time and energy. So, where does volunteerism fit in? For many women, volunteering at theaters or elsewhere simply may not be relevant. Or, as life milestones and lifespans extend deeper into women’s thirties and forties and fifties, it may be that family and professional priorities always rise to the top. Volunteering just cannot supersede caring for aging parents, or juggling career growth alongside childrearing, for example. The volunteer opportunities either fall to the wayside or have to be designed to accommodate ever-busier, more ambitious women with an increasing share of social capital.

Reconceiving How Theaters Value (Women’s) Labor

Theaters can respond to these forces in a number of ways – and these responses fit into a potential sea change in how performing arts not-for-profits value labor. The “women’s work” of stuffing envelopes, tearing tickets, and cooking potluck welcome dinners no longer aligns with how rising generations of women envision their labor contributions. Leadership and decision-making roles, however, are clear paths forward. Women are still woefully underrepresented in the leadership of not-for-profit theaters, but as the #MeToo movement advances, along with parallel activism for wage parity and transparency, theaters can embrace the opportunity to make room at the table for women to take leadership roles as volunteers – through board service and in other areas. The notion that a woman volunteer is automatically a helper and not a decider must go away.

This points to a larger opportunity facing theaters: developing a new understanding of the cost of doing business, as a function of how we value labor.

This blog has been adapted from Count Me In: Leveraging Generational Differences To Sustain Volunteer Engagement. For the full report, click HERE. Here are the links to Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.


Meg Friedman Headshot.jpg

Meg Friedman is a Consultant with AMS Planning & Research, where her work includes strategic planning, facility feasibility, and a range of other research and decision-making services. Meg’s work touches arts and entertainment industry trends ranging from consumer preferences to venue design and the arts workforce. She has created dynamic financial models for small planning studies to multi-million-dollar facilities.

Past projects include the inaugural strategic plan for Assets for Artists, a program of MASS MoCA, and a strategic plan for the New England Foundation for the Arts. Meg has researched trends and best practices in arts venue development for the City of Boise, Idaho, the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and the City of Vaughan, Ontario. She has provided research for a chapter in Routledge’s Performing Arts Center Management and was a contributor to the 11th edition of Stage Management by Lawrence Stern and Jill Gold. Current projects include the planning of a new performing arts center in Sarasota, Florida, and research to define an arts sector investment strategy for The McConnell Foundation in Redding, California.

Meg holds a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Goucher College and a BA in Theater Design and Production from UCLA. Prior to joining AMS, Meg was an AEA stage manager and worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as at leading regional theaters. She also served as a moderator for SMNetwork.org, the original free web forum for stage managers.

Meg tweets from @AMSarts and @megf_miles.

Call for Proposals: Bring Your Whole Self To StateraCon 2019

Speakers at Statera’s 2018 conference: Christine Jugueta, Suzan Fete, and Nataki Garrett. Photos by Malloree Delayne Hill.

Speakers at Statera’s 2018 conference: Christine Jugueta, Suzan Fete, and Nataki Garrett. Photos by Malloree Delayne Hill.

StateraArts is seeking proposals for workshops, breakout sessions, and presentations for our 2019 National Conference in New York City. This year’s theme is Coalition Building.

The Statera conference is all about intersectional gender balance and our goal is to take positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the American Theatre. Statera, deriving its name from the Latin word for balance, works to normalize a humane and holistic creative environment that nourishes innovation. We want you to bring your whole self to StateraConIV.

We invite proposals for breakout sessions that reflect our misison and also deliver practical strategies for theatre-makers and art-activists at all levels of expertise. Here are some quick guidelines:

  • Reflect the diversity of women, trans, and non-binary theatre professionals

  • Stimulate and provoke discussion about intersectional gender parity issues

  • Engage and support allies in the parity movement

  • Target specific sub-groups (students, new to the industry, mid-career, seasoned professionals) as well as specific disciplines (playwrights, technicians, designers, dramaturgs, directors, vocal coaches, stage managers, choreographers, intimacy directors)

  • Inspire new paths of personal and creative expression

  • Explore specific issues important to women* in theatre

  • Engage participants in topics regarding work-life balance, and other issues relating to personal fulfillment

StateraCon is open to everyone. We invite and welcome all gender identities, all races and ethnicities, all religions and creeds, countries of origin, all immigrants and refugees, all abilities and disabilities, and all sexual orientations. Everyone is welcome here.

The overall schedule of events will include a diverse array of presenters and perspectives, including those with different specialties, areas of expertise, levels of experience, and a variety of institutional and organizational types. Looking for ideas? Click HERE for a PDF of last year’s StateraConIII Program.


Submissions are currently open.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO May 31, 2019.
Presenters will be notified by email July 1, 2019.

Learn more HERE.

12,000 Voices Inspires Voter Registration and Civic Engagement

The Black is Beautiful Project “12 Angry Men” team: Gabrielle Reid, Kimber Sprawl, Tiffany Evariste, Ashley Alexandra Seldon, Ashley Blanchet, Alex Hairston, Bahiyah Hibah, TyNia Brandon, LaQuet Sharnell Pringle, Housso Semon, Salisha Thomas, Gabrielle Elisabeth, Schele Williams, and Jasmin Walker (Photo by Julia Johanos)

The Black is Beautiful Project “12 Angry Men” team: Gabrielle Reid, Kimber Sprawl, Tiffany Evariste, Ashley Alexandra Seldon, Ashley Blanchet, Alex Hairston, Bahiyah Hibah, TyNia Brandon, LaQuet Sharnell Pringle, Housso Semon, Salisha Thomas, Gabrielle Elisabeth, Schele Williams, and Jasmin Walker (Photo by Julia Johanos)

By Sarah Greenman

Inspired by the successful reading of the classic play, “Twelve Angry Men,” by Reginald Rose featuring 12 extraordinary Broadway actresses, producer Lauren Class Schneider has invited women in law schools, universities, high schools, community and regional theaters, and community centers across the country to raise their voices – with scripts in hand – in readings of the play with all-female casts over the weekend of April 5-8, 2019.

Schneider said she chose the name “12,000 Voices” for the initiative because of its aspirational value. “Over the course of time, imagine the reading being performed in 1000 locations, making 12,000 voices.”

Following each staged reading of “Twelve Angry Men,” audience members, cast, and staff will have the opportunity to update their voter registration. Information will also be shared about how to increase voter registration and voter turnout locally.

“Harnessing the power of storytelling by simultaneously presenting this timeless play around the country, we hope to stimulate community engagement on a local level” said Schneider, who has served as campaign staff on several presidential campaigns along with her experience as a Broadway producer. “Because the play makes a powerful argument for the value of civic involvement, it’s a great platform for a voter registration event” she said.

“Rose wrote the original courtroom drama as a teleplay in 1954, some 19 years before women could serve on juries in all 50 states. An all-female cast of this play, at this time, is relevant on so many levels,” Schneider said.

“Right now, we are working with different groups across the country on their April 5-8th readings,” adds Schneider. “I am excited to see how organizations across the country embrace, participate, and lend their voice with their own presentations!”

“When we created the event in September, many of Broadway’s brightest female stars lent their talent, showing their desire to strengthen public service. With the help of League of Women Voters, we saw voter registration and involvement increase.”

Diane Lees, a League of Women Voters volunteer recalled“After the reading in September, I saw a change in the audience. An all-female reading of ‘Twelve Angry Men’ was such a strong motivator to transform spectators into engaged citizens. Watching the audience get in line to register or update their voter information was really gratifying.”

Today, The Black Is Beautiful Project (pictured above), comprised of cast members from Broadway’s “Beautiful” kick-off this nationwide initiative with their own staged reading at 3:30 PM at the Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day School.

The Black is Beautiful Project was first created by cast members of “Beautiful, the Carole King Musical" as a celebration of Black History Month. Noting the greater impact this initiative could have, TBIBP began to explore ways to advocate for artists of color year round. Our mission is to show the importance of representation and opportunity, to celebrate the contributions and achievements of black artists, and perform community outreach for young artists in need of mentorship and inspiration. 

Co-producers of The Black in Beautiful Project’s reading, Daniel Torres and TyNia Brandon said, “We’re thrilled to join forces with 12,000 Voices as the kick-off to this amazing national initiative. Presenting their first and only all African-American Female reading of "12 Angry Men" by 12 Impassioned Women fits our mission. We strongly believe having an all black female cast for "12 Angry Men" will give our audience a new perspective to comprehend and connect with this classic play as well as inspire voter participation and civic engagement."

You can learn more about 12,000 Voices on the SWAN Day Calendar. Readings are happening all over the country today through April 8th. To find a reading near you, please visit the 12,000 Voices website at www.12000voices.com.