Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Joining the Conversation

Hello. I’m Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, beginning a new series of guest posts for the Scene. I’m really excited and thankful for the opportunity.

One of the areas where I think we can improve as a community is to be more active in the national conversation. Often, we spend so much time in our silos, so dedicated to getting the next show up that we forget to see what we can learn from other theatre communities.

Time is precious, and if there’s a choice between reading five or six theatre blogs, or getting a grant done – clearly the grant must take preference. But I do think as a community, we lose some really valuable opportunities to share what we’re learning and to learn from others.

So in that vein, I’m planning these posts as a way to share what I’m reading about the national and international theatre community. Some of what I’m reading is practical information – great how to guides to social media or board development. Some of what I’m reading is more theoretical, but will provide insight into where the national conversation is. And some will be stuff that I think is really nifty and could change the way we look at how we create theatre.

Most of what I’m reading I find out from conversations on twitter, primarily through the #2amt and #newplay hashtags, but I also read You Cott Mail, ArtsJournal, and other arts blogs. I plan to primarily share things that are new to me, but I will sometimes share great older posts that deserve more attention.

So with that… I’m excited to begin.

Election Season

Sometimes the national conversation is larger than just the arts. The upcoming November election promises to be a vital one for the arts. Please check to see if you are registered to vote, and if you aren’t – register before October 9th, which is the deadline for Florida registration.

If you are registered, check out the Florida Cultural Alliance’s Candidate’s Survey and where your state level candidates stand on the arts.

Social Media

A Guide to best using Social Media to your advantage -- shown to be by the Theatre League Board Member and Free Lance Marketer Carol Kassie.

What Makes a Vibrant Theatre Community?

Travis Bedard, of Austin, TX, weighs in on what he feels is needed for a vibrant theatre community. It’s an interesting read in juxtaposition to Florida Theatre On Stage’s essays on the state of South Florida Theatre.

Giving Back to the Community

Sometimes the national conversation happens in our own backyard. Polly Carl of the Center for the Theatre Commons, gave the keynote speech for City Theatre’s CityWrights, a conference for playwrights. She talks about what went wrong in the regional theatre movement and asks how we can go back to creating a commons. She also talks about the role of the artist and the gift of art. It was a really beautiful keynote, and addresses so many of the larger issues the industry faces.

(And in terms of South Florida participating in the national conversation, local playwright Vanessa Garcia riffed on the keynote on her recent post on HowlRound.)


Diane Ragsdale asks some tough questions on the greater accountability of non-profit boards.

Gender Parity and Diversity

One of the largest, if not the largest, topics in the national conversation on the state of the industry is the discussion of diversity and gender parity. TCG has a measured post, looking at the most produced plays in the past four years, and how there’s generally only one female playwright and one playwright of color. They plan on addressing the wider issue of diversity at their Fall Governance Forum.

In less encouraging news, there’s this post, which showcases how far we still have to go in terms of sexism in our industry, and in even less encouraging news, I can’t ignore the fury surrounding Michael Kaiser’s comments to Felix Sanchez, the chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation of the Arts. I haven’t read any detailed responses to Kaiser, but there was a great discussion started on twitter about the current state of Latino/a artists.

The gender parity and diversity discussions aren’t only important because of justice, but also they’re important practical discussions to have in terms of audience development. We’re creating theatre in one of the most diverse communities in the country. Over 50% of Miami-Dade County Residents are from other countries, making this community the largest immigrant community in the country. And if our theatre doesn’t reflect that, it will be even harder to develop new audiences. But Sweden shows us that if an effort is made to make a change, quality change can happen and quality theatre will still result.

That is it for this week, and I hope you check in next Wednesday. Thanks again to Chris Jahn for giving me this opportunity.

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