NEW YORK CITY: Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, is pleased to announce the launch of the third round of the Rising Leaders of Color (RLC) Program, supported by Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Building on learnings from the past two cohorts, the third round will focus on early-career leaders from New York City and St. Louis, the latter being the location of this year’s TCG National Conference, June 14-16. This year again features a criticism/journalism track alongside opportunities for early-career administrators, creative, and technical theatre staff.
This year’s cohort will be featured in programming at the conference in St. Louis, and will participate in a year-long curriculum of professional development and networking opportunities. RLC is part of TCG’s commitment to changing the face of the theatre field by nurturing and supporting an intergenerational network of leaders of color at various stages in their careers. The online application submission deadline for RLC is May 4, 2018 at 12 pm Eastern time.
“It is near impossible for me to briefly explain how remarkable my experience has been as a TCG Rising Leaders of Color,” said Geno Franco of the 2017 Oregon Cohort in a statement. “The short answer is that it is more than a professional development program, it is also a personal development program. My experience was empowering, affirming, and enlightening.”
“We’ve been thrilled to see members from our first two RLC cohorts taking on new leadership roles in the field,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG, in a statement. “Supporting early-career leaders through the Rising Leaders of Color program is a way of uplifting the remarkable talent in our field and building a more equitable theatre ecology nationwide.”
“TCG’s tremendous dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion has had a profound impact on the field,” said Emily Sproch, program officer of Gilman Foundation, in a statement. “The Howard Gilman Foundation is thrilled to support the New York City Rising Leaders of Color cohort, which will provide opportunities for exceptionally promising theatre leaders of color to harness their collective power and broadcast it nationwide.”
The RLC is a cohort of exceptionally talented early-career leaders of color who are advancing their careers in and around the U.S. not-for-profit theatre, and who demonstrate the potential to impact the field in a positive way. Beginning with an orientation meeting on June 2, 2018, this year’s RLC will have the benefit of a yearlong networking and professional-development curriculum designed to strengthen participants’ leadership skills and expand their network of empowering relationships with peers across the country. TCG will work with the participants to hand-tailor areas of the curriculum to address the specific needs and goals of the cohort. The program curriculum will include attending TCG’s National Conference in 2018, periodic webinars, group teleconferences, and introductions to recipients and alumni of TCG’s grant programs as well as veteran leaders in the field. RLC participants will undergo values clarification training, and explore how an individual’s values can serve in the development of a personal mission statement and personal strategic plan.
The curriculum will also include training designed to deepen the participants’ analysis of equity, diversity, and inclusion, identifying where they are and where they can serve in allyship within the theatre field and beyond. For members of the 2018 cohort who are early-career theatre critics and journalists, the year-long professional development curriculum will include mentorship opportunities with arts editors and journalists in St. Louis and around the U.S., including at American Theatre magazine.
“The RLC has been an amazing opportunity for me personally and professionally,” said TJ Acena, the critic/journalist in the 2017 Oregon cohort, in a statement. “Getting to connect with other artists of color in Oregon during the preconference and other artists of color across the nation during the conference was invigorating. Also the recognition has made me more visible to publications looking for reviewers, and is already opening doors for me here.”
“The Rising Leaders of Color program highlights some of the most exceptionally talented leaders of color across the U.S.” said Emilya Cachapero, director of TCG’s artistic and international programs, in a statement. “These leaders are already impacting their local communities and are primed to have even greater impact on conversations in the larger theatre field. TCG is proud to support and nurture their development and help prepare them to lead the movement toward a more inclusive theatre field.”
“As a local arts funder and supporter of this year’s annual conference, the Regional Arts Commission understands the critical importance of investing in our young professionals who seek to further explore their careers as working artists,” said Felicia Shaw, executive director, Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, in a statement. “Encouraging creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship along with sustained commitment not only helps the artist and the respective discipline but can also help lift a community.”
The cohort’s theatre criticism and journalism track, designed to help widen and deepen the talent pool of voices documenting, reflecting, and challenging the field, was a remarkable success in its first year, according to Rob Weinert-Kendt, American Theatre’s editor-in-chief. “Through a combination of timing and his own innate talents, our first critic/journalist, TJ Acena, has already started writing for major papers in Oregon, as well as for American Theatre,” said Weinert-Kendt in a statement. “We had hoped that including early-career theatre journalists of color in this cohort would both send a powerful signal that journalists and critics are leaders too, and demonstrate the ways our field would benefit from fresh insights and voices. TJ’s work has been a smashing success on both fronts.”
RLC builds on the learnings and momentum of the Young Leaders of Color (YLC) and the SPARK Leadership Programs. Since 2008, YLC has brought 79 leaders of color to TCG National Conferences. RLC expands and re-envisions that community as part of an ongoing intergenerational network of leaders of color. From 2014-15, the SPARK Leadership Program assembled a cohort of 10 leaders of color for a focused, year-long professional development curriculum. Through RLC and SPARK, TCG will support a variety of professional development and networking programs to meet the diverse needs of theatre leaders of color. Learn more about SPARK here and YLC here.