The Theatre Communication Group National Conference comes to L.A!

By Fanny Garcia

For years, I’ve heard great things about this conference from colleagues and fellow artists. They rave about the workshops and the speakers and the people they meet and the amounts of wine they drink over thought provoking conversations about art and playwriting and creating and producing and I have listened each and every time with a jealous grin on my face.

But this year, it’s a whole different story.  I will not have a jealous grin on my face as I listen to the stories the attendees tell because I will be present for every bit of it. And I won’t just be any normal attendee, I’m one of the recipients of the Young Leaders of Color Scholarship! I was nominated by the multi-talented Diane Rodriguez who is currently Associate Producer and Director of New Play Production at Center Theatre Group.

The scholarship allows the recipients to attend the conference for free and partners each with a mentor. It also provides separate events geared only towards Young Leaders of Color. I’ll be attending a lunch where I’ll meet alums of the program and a mixer at Yxta Cocina Mexicana (I’ve been to this place and it’s awesome) where we can network.

The conference will take place June 16 through June 18th with workshops at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel, Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, and Central Los Angeles High School #9 School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Speakers include Susan V. Booth, Roger Copeland, Gordon Davidson (Founding Artistic Director of Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles), Mona Eltahawy (award-winning columnist and international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues), Marcus Gardley (poet and playwright), Janie Geiser, David Houle, Nancy Keystone (Artistic Director of Critical Mass Performance Group. Fantastic!), Sage Lewis (composer), Mimi Lien (set designer), Todd London, Cricket Myers, Marsha Norman, Sonja Parks, Tanya Selvaratnam, Mark Shugoll, Julie Taymor (Yes, THE Julie Taymor), and Angel Ysaguire (director of global community investing at The Boeing Compay).

The theme of this year’s conference?

What if we imagined the theatre field of the next 50 years, and began making visible progress today?

  • What if theatre weren’t seen as a luxury but as central to the fabric of our country?
  • What if artists and other theatre leaders talked regularly and openly about art and aesthetics?
  • What if theatre institutions and their boards committed to hiring more people of color in leadership positions?
  • What if a group of billionaires created a “Giving Pledge” initiative for theatre?
  • What if the US became more embedded in wars around the globe – what would become the role of theatre and artists?
  • What if there were a new audience engagement model as powerful as the subscription model?
  • What if theatres and artists could commit to each other for multiple years?
  • What if we could solidify new business models that would truly lead to the sustainability of our theatres?

Here are some of mine:

  • What if artists weren’t always struggling to make ends meet?
  • What if there more theatre companies that focused on development of new work by artists of color?
  • What if audiences in low-income communities didn’t see theatre as something the “elites” do?
  • What if plays were promoted as an important part of theatre?

Although my primary interest is in playwriting and meeting other playwrights, the real opportunity the conference provides is creating a space where artists from all over the country can discuss the future of theatre in the United States and begin to create a blueprint for it. The conference will engage us in discussions that will force participants to think outside the artistic realms of theatre and spend time on the business innovations that will ensure its sustainability for years to come.

I am honored to have been chosen as a Young Leader of Color and will make good use of the information I collect at the conference. I’ll be keeping the readers of pLAywriting in the city informed by posting an update at the end of each day.

If you are not able to attend the TCG National Conference next week you can still make your voice heard by doing one or two or all of the following:

1.)   Check out the Theatre Communications Group Facebook page, click “Like” and post your very own “What if…?” statement. http://www.facebook.com/tcg.org

2.)   Attend one of the shows in the Radar L.A. Festival. It’s an international theatre festival coming to Los Angeles for the first time. Artists from Japan, Mexico, Australia, Ireland and Los Angeles will be performing at REDCAT. http://www.redcat.org/event/radar-la-festival.

3.)   Get yourself a prescription to American Theatre Magazine and start educating yourself about theatre across the country and the world!

4.)   Make sure theater stays alive by supporting local theater performances!

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