News and Updates
Sheri M. Goldhirsch
Wednesday, September 30, 2015 12:00 AM


Dear Members,

Last week the theatre community lost an amazing woman whom I was honored to call my friend: Sheri Goldhirsch.  Sheri was the Artistic Director of Young Playwrights, Inc.  She passed away on Tuesday, September 22nd at the young age of 55.  Many of us did not even know that she was sick; such was the very private nature of this selfless woman.

Sheri began as an Intern at Young Playwrights 34 years ago.  She swiftly rise to become Managing Director, and upon the sudden and untimely death of Young Playwrights former Artistic Director Nancy Quinn (for whom The Nancy Quinn Funds are named) she was named Artistic Director

Like many women who are ‘promoted internally’ Sheri had to ‘prove herself’ worthy of her new artistic role.  And let's face it: Nancy was a tough act to follow!  While Nancy was a redhead with a flair for the dramatic (who can forget her bright red lipstick!); Sheri was a redhead who preferred to be ‘behind the scenes’!

And it was exactly behind the scenes where she did her best work, nurturing young playwrights (teenagers mind you).  This past week those writers used their words to remind us that she was the first person to treat them and address them as playwrights!  Her encouragement to, as YPF once claimed, "Have Their Say," was felt by each and every writer she met.  YPF Founder Stephen Sondheim is right, "Children will listen."  Just read the tributes to Sheri on her Facebook page.

Young Playwright’s Founder and Board Member, Stephen Sondheim had this to say about Sheri:

"The untimely passing of Sheri Goldhirsch is not only a shock to me, but to the entire Young Playwrights Inc. family - a large one, consisting as it does not only of the seven Board Members, but also the 32,300 writers 18 years and younger who have entered their plays in the annual competition (the 340 Winners of which have, as a result, been lucky enough to see their plays professionally staged or produced). Sheri read every one of those plays during her thirty-four years of running the organization, and wrote personal acknowledgments to the playwrights. Sheri devoted her entire career to encouraging young people to find their creative roots and let them grow. Our loss is their loss, and it is a mighty one.”

Sheri left behind an amazing legacy – one which will not truly be realized for a dozen or more years – by the “young playwrights” who continue to write.  They are our future, the next Madeline George, Jonathan Mark Sherman, Julia Jarcho or Lin Manuel Miranda.

With love and sadness,


An Update on the A.R.T./New York Theatres
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 12:00 AM


Dear Members,
For several years you've asked me: "When are the new theatres going to open?" And during this time you've been incredibly patient as these dates have changed. Today I am pleased to announce that the New York City Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Cultural Affairs have given us a June 2016 date when the spaces will be complete!
To be on the safe side, we will use the months of July and August to make sure all "punch list" items get done, and to test our new theatre equipment and all of the other amazing elements that will make this a flexible, state-of-the-art space. During the summer of 2016 we will also hold numerous tours for members, donors, and our neighbors in Hell's Kitchen!

The first performances in the A.R.T./New York Theatres will be held in September of 2016.
Because these are brand new spaces built within a mixed-use development, we know that there will be some "kinks" to work through in the first few productions. For this reason, we have identified a small, diverse pilot group of members who have agreed to work with us in testing out the new theatres during their crucial first months.
We will use a peer panel to select groups for the remainder of FY17 and into FY18. Depending upon the amount of interest that develops, and how far into the future theatres seek to reserve space, we may book through December 2017 or June 2018. We are also exploring ways to award a three year residency to a group during "low demand" weeks, how two theatres could rent the space together to save on rental costs, how we might work with a festival to book out both theatres at once, and how to welcome staged readings and other events so that we can serve as many companies as possible throughout the year!
Applications for renting the A.R.T./New York Theatres will become available online on September 28, 2015. I'm sure there will be questions, so we will hold several information sessions to discuss the application and selection process with you.
I know how much these theatres mean to all of you, and we are working to develop the most transparent and responsible way possible for you to access them. We have just updated the A.R.T./New York Theatres page of our website, which will show construction photos so that you can witness their development along with all of us at A.R.T./New York. Please take a moment to visit the A.R.T./New York Theatres website at:

As always, I want to thank you all for your support during this rather long design/construction phase. We have a great team from DCLA and DDC working with us on these theatres, and it is my deepest hope that you will fall in love with the spaces as much as I have.


Questions Considered - When To Plan
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 12:00 AM



ARTS Action Research


When is the best time to undertake a strategic planning process and who should be involved?


“As I ate the oysters . . . and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”

      Earnest Hemingway—A Moveable Feast

There has never been a more enticing description of oysters; nor a more subtle but apt description of a renewed will to live. Hemingway knew well that deeply, depressed or disengaged individuals don’t plan. That’s because planning is not only an acknowledgement that there is a future, but also that it is possible to envision and influence that future in a positive way.  Not that anyone expects plans to work out exactly as articulated – but they often come close. More than that, they sometimes provide a path towards something better than the outcomes originally envisioned.  What we know for sure is that planning is the only way to accomplish either future.

Stepping from the romantic to the practical, planning is about the dynamic relationship between time and space in our lives, which is change. Change is an ongoing, unrelenting, fact of life. But it’s also a sign of life, especially when we acknowledge and work with it. So, When is the best time to undertake a planning process? It’s when you feel the need to shape, guide and have some control over how your theatre and work is going to change and grow in the future. There’s no season and no particular point in an entity’s lifecycle that is predestined for such an impulse. For different leaders and different organizations it comes at different moments.  That said, there is never a best time, an ideal time, or a time that won’t interfere with or distract from the other activities of your organization. In other words, there won’t be a moment when you can simply shut everything else out and plan.  But, that could be said of any project of any kind that your theatre wants to undertake.

A more appropriate way of thinking about ‘a best time for planning’ is when professional leadership makes the time and commits to a process. Part of this process is abandoning the notion that planning is something extra that needs to get done and understanding that effective planning is a way of propelling ongoing work and getting things done. The simple fact is that arts professionals plan all the time, otherwise no show would be mounted, no marketing undertaken, and no grants written. Planning is ongoing and integrated into what we do. However, much of it is reactive rather than proactive, situational rather than systemic, and short term if not in real time – ultimately not very satisfying and definitely not a positive way to think and plan for the future. To accomplish effective, proactive, systemic and long term planning, a theatre’s leadership must commit to making it an essential and consistent component of the ongoing operation and management of the organization’s activities.

Assuming planning must be an integrated and ongoing component of the work of theatre organizations, who should be involved in the planning process?  If the process is going to be meaningfully connected to the mission and vision of the organization and informed by the realities it faces, the person or people who have the most acute understanding and experience of these things must lead the process: the professional leadership.  A planning process might be facilitated by an outside consultant, but ultimately the organization’s leadership must do the work and shape the outcomes for it to be a truly meaningful process.

Further, these professional leaders must take responsibility for bringing together a core planning group to support process.  Just as Artistic Directors cast certain artists in certain roles because they are skilled, talented or experienced, likewise, the core planning group must be identified by professional leadership and cast very carefully.  The casting process is predicated not only on matching talent and experience but also on understanding the intangibles of values and behaviors that fit within the culture we’ve defined.  Taking the time to get the right team in place is essential for creating a rich and effective planning process.

Do you have questions in your organization or work that you would like to work with ARTS Action Research to explore and understand?  AAR Associates are available to A.R.T./New York members throughout the year, conducting Nancy Quinn Program workshops and providing one on one consulting support through the Theatre Leadership Program. For more information about these programs, contact Ann Marie Lonsdale at A.R.T./New York.

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