News and Updates
From Ginny's Desk: Community Conversation
Thursday, November 17, 2016 12:00 AM

 

 

 

Dear Members,

The late Zelda Fichandler wrote: 
"Despair creates anger, anger creates energy, and energy turns things around."
I thought about this last week in the wake of the election. Though A.R.T./New York remains nonpartisan, we recognize that this is a moment in which we can come together as a community: to mourn, to support one another, and to look ahead.

On November 29th, A.R.T./New York will host a gathering for the field. Beginning at 6:15 pm we hope you will come spend time with us at the SITI Company Zeisler Studio at 520 Eighth Avenue, Suite 311, and share a drink and a snack. This gathering is a safe and brave space for us to come together and express ourselves. RSVP here so we can get a sense of the size of the group.

We are also working to organize a Town Hall meeting in December, which can help us determine how we move forward as a community. We welcome your ideas and thoughts as we plan that event. 

With love,
Ginny






Community Conversation
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
6:15pm-9:00pm
SITI Company Zeisler Studio at 520 Eighth Avenue, Suite 311

 


 

 
Opening Our Doors To Independent Producers
Monday, October 31, 2016 12:00 AM

 

 


As the landscape of New York City changes, A.R.T./New York is changing too! Our membership has always been exclusively geared toward organizations, but so many artists and producers work independently. We're here to serve the NYC theatre community, so it's time for us to open up our membership and make space for Independent Producers with our new category of membership.


What does this mean for current members?
Your membership isn't changing, but you'll be excited to learn that our community is growing! You likely know and have worked with independent producers who may not have had access to A.R.T./New York membership. There is now a way for them to access our services and community: Feel free to let them know!


I'm already a member, but I think Independent Producer Membership might be a better fit.
Maybe it is! Keep in mind that Independent Producer memberships have access to the same services as Full and Associate members. Independent Producer Memberships are designed for individuals, therefore aren't set up to share benefits with a staff. If you are truly working as an individual, switching your membership status could simplify things. Email Kati Frazier at kfrazier@art-newyork.org if you'd like to change your membership status.


I'm not a member, but I think I'd like to join as an Independent Producer.
Great! Take a look at the membership guidelines below, and if you'd like to apply to join A.R.T./New York, just head over to our website. We're excited to have you join our community!

  

 

Independent Producer Membership

Eligibility

  • Must not be eligible for FULL or ASSOCIATE Theatre Membership;
  • Must be self-produced in New York City;
  • Must not charge fees to participating artists (including playwrights, actors, designers, and directors) to participate in theatrical productions. Members may charge fees only for legitimate classes and training programs and only if they are clearly dissociated from theatre productions.
  • Should demonstrate that projects undertaken are non-profit in spirit, and not generating more than $100,000 in income and expenses on a single project or in a single year. 
  • Nonprofit incorporation or 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status is not required for Independent Producer Membership, though Independent Producers may be under the umbrella of another organization (ie fiscally sponsored).

Dues for Independent Producer Membership 

  • $155 (income and expense under $100,000 per year or per project)

Benefits for Independent Producers 

  • Eligible to apply for the Nancy Quinn Fund Grant (budget must be under $100,000);
  • Eligible to apply for Creative Space Grant;
  • Eligible for Creative Opportunity Fund Grant (budget must be under $500,000);
  • All other services benefits of membership that apply to membership classes, however some programs do have an application process and specific eligibility requirements.
  • Independent Producer memberships are not designed to extend benefits to a full staff like other membership categories intended for organizations.

 

 

 


 

 
Community Case Studies: Gideon Productions (2)
Thursday, October 20, 2016 12:00 AM

 

Gideon Productions on Reaching New Communities: Part Two, How It Went 

By Sean Williams

Photo: Deborah Alexander

Our production of Universal Robots was opening in June of 2016 and by the beginning of May we were set to implement our community outreach initiatives. The interpreters were in place for our performance for Deaf Audiences, we had the devices on hold for Blind Audiences, our venue, The Sheen Center, had provided us with space for our Parents Initiative… It was all falling into place. So we sat down to prepare the Invisible Disability Outreach.

Again, Marielle Duke from Adaptive Arts was an enormous help. We started writing out the Social Story and planning for the alterations in the staging and audience interaction… But after a few weeks of work, it began to dawn on me that this was more than we could accomplish. The play was simply not designed to work with these modifications and when we looked at our production team we had to admit that we didn’t have the manpower.

Our production company has been incredibly lucky in many ways. The press has consistently been kind to us and our audiences have been passionate and supportive. But this gives the illusion that we’re a well-organized team with a solid infrastructure and we’re just not. We’re essentially just a few people who rely on the generosity of a lot of people.

This community-based approach to creating theater works well only if we ask for things people are comfortable giving and can pay people back with opportunities they would enjoy. The people we work with have never done this kind of outreach, and didn’t have the first clue how to help. After some soul-searching, Marielle and I canceled this initiative.

We still had three other programs to work on; so, I first turned my focus to reaching out to the Blind Community. I spent hours and hours on outreach via email, texting, and letter writing. And I was so frustrated that I wasn’t hearing back. We had set up a special performance, we had invested time and money. Why wasn’t the Blind community responding? What more could they possibly want?

Eventually, we had to face the facts. The Blind Community simply wasn’t interested, for some reason, in our show. I threw my hands up and called the rest of the Gideon Team and the Sheen Center to let them know I was canceling the assistive listening devices for that performance.  They all congratulated me for trying so hard and we all agreed to focus on the other two outreach initiatives.

I turned my attention to the Deaf Community. I had hired two of the best interpreters in New York, Dylan Geil and Lusanne Massaro, and we had a huge response to our email and phone call outreach. The interpreters were going to reach out to their communities and one of my close friends is deeply engaged with the deaf community.

But still, as we got closer, the tickets set aside for the Deaf Community hadn’t sold. Not one. We had received rave reviews in publications all over the city, we were selling out every single performance and those audiences were raving. Why weren’t Deaf Audiences coming to the show? Again I asked myself, what more could they possibly want? We couldn’t cancel the performance, I’d already hired the interpreters and the show was already selling out with other audience members, but we ended up having only one Deaf audience member – a friend of ours who bought his ticket a few hours before the show.

Three out of the four felt like total failures. I told myself that I had been magnanimous and generous but…  maybe these communities simply weren’t interested in our show. Maybe theater itself is such a difficult sell that these people weren’t going to come no matter what I did.

The performance for parents was turning into a bigger success. Because I have two kids of my own, my personal community is all theater people and parents. A group of my theater-parent friends had reserved tickets for the show and on the day, we had four teaching artists doing theater games and building art projects with the kids while their parents watched the performance.  It was the only successful bit of outreach we’d done.

The show closed and as part of the depression/decompression that accompanies a closing show, I looked back on the outreach. I had written the whole thing off as a failed experiment. But the recurring question, “What more could they possibly want?” went from a comforting mantra to a nagging question that needed to be answered. The more times I asked myself that, the closer I came to an uncomfortable truth.

We wanted to reach out to four different communities, but I was only personally invested in one of them. I have kids, I know a lot of people who have kids. We share stories, we have playdates. We set up a show for parents because parents came to us and said, “I wish you had a show for us.” That’s something they wanted.

When it comes to outreach, we have to be really careful about cultural appropriation. And that’s essentially what I had done with the other three groups. I don’t suffer from a disability that would keep me out of the theater and I don’t personally know anyone who is Deaf or Blind. In fact, I had to check with several people just to suss out the right language – are they hearing-impaired or Deaf? Visually impaired or Blind? I had no idea.

As a counterpoint, some years ago we decided to change our hiring and casting practices to be more diverse and inclusive. This has been hugely successful for us - our audiences are more diverse and our shows are more vibrant and artistically informed. But the reason we did it is because we were asked to do it. A friend came up to me at the end of a show and said, “You don’t know how frustrating it is to see a play this good with almost no people of color. I want you to do more, I want you to do better.” And we’ve tried. 

With the Disability Outreach, it was as if I walked up to the door of a community center that I had never been to before and said, “I have one single performance set aside for you, you’re welcome. By the way, my name is Sean. See you at the theater!” When I think back to how frustrated I was that the Blind community didn’t respond to my emails and letters without considering that written text might not be the best way to contact them, I feel considerable shame.

The solution moving forward is to be in touch with these communities as we begin to plan our productions and actually ask them, “What more can we do? What more do you want?” and then see if there’s a way to implement those suggestions.

We can’t confuse outreach with investment. I was measuring the response to my initiatives in terms of audience members who showed up at the theater, but that means I was looking to capitalize on an underserved community instead of legitimately serving them. As we look forward at 2017 and beyond, I intend to be in dialogue with these communities because that’s the only way I will know what I have to do to make all of these people feel welcome at our productions. 

  

 

This post is part two of two. Did you miss the first one? Read it here.

Community Case Studies is a new, ongoing series of blog posts from members for members to share stories about implementing new practices and trying new strategies. Is your company embarking on a new endeavor? Are you taking a risk and making a change to how you do your work? Share that experience with us. If you'd like to contribute, reach out to Kati Frazier at kfrazier@art-newyork.org.

 


 

 

 


 

 
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