NEW YORK CITY: Theatre Communications Group (TCG) has announced the launch of THRIVE!, a regranting program designed to support U.S.-based Black theatres, Indigenous theatres, and all theatres of color (BITOC). TCG will be working in partnership with an advisory circle of theatremakers who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC), as well as $1.635 million in support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, to create a program that will include regranting unrestricted funds, leadership and professional development, convening, and the widespread dissemination of what is learned during the program.
“BITOC have made vital contributions to their communities and to the entirety of our theatre ecology in spite of pernicious racist inequities in funding,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director and CEO of TCG, in a statement. “We believe that when these barriers are removed, and BITOC have equitable access to fully realize their potential, our field will truly thrive.”
At the core of the new program is a call for complex, emergent thinking to help BITOC thrive and reach their highest potential, with opportunities for reflection and collective action. The program launched this week as part of THRIVE! Week, a virtual convening taking place through June 11 and featuring programming by, for, and about theatremakers who identify as BIPOC, people of color, or people of the global majority.
“W.E.B. Du Bois defined Black Theatre as about, by, for, and near Black people,” said Emilya Cachapero, TCG director of artistic and international programs, in a statement. “In that spirit, TCG defines BITOC as those who make theatre by, for, about, with, and near communities of color. THRIVE! will build on the long legacies of these theatres to create BITOC-specific programs, connect BITOC to equitable funding from grantmakers, and bring national visibility to and support the ingenuity of BITOC.”
Working in emergent partnership with BIPOC leaders, THRIVE! will feature three main areas of activity:
Grantmaking: The program will provide rapid response grants to address immediate conditions as well as larger unrestricted grants aimed at empowering BITOC to self-determine areas of their programming and operations that are most in need of funds. Field conversations with BITOC and BIPOC community leaders will be held to inform the grant program’s structure.
Convening: The experiences of BITOC and BIPOC communities will be centered in THRIVE! convening programming to uplift their leadership and wisdom.
Dissemination: TCG will disseminate learnings and ideas to the field and beyond through American Theatre, the TCG Circle, convenings like TCG’s National Conference, and other online and in-person platforms. BIPOC writers, including those who are not yet theatre journalists or critics but who exhibit the talent for and interest in writing for the field, will be invited to participate as contributing writers.
TCG will work closely with an advisory circle throughout the life of the program, working to ensure that the program’s components are both relevant and useful. Advisory circle members include Andrea Assaf, founding artistic director, art2action; Miranda Gonzalez, producing artistic director, Urban Theatre; Andre Harrington, professor of design at California State University; Dr. Nicole Hodges Persley, artistic director, KC Melting Pot Theater; Leslie Ishii, artistic director, Perseverance Theatre; Jonathan McCrory, executive artistic director, National Black Theatre; Alexandra Meda, artistic director, Teatro Luna; Kate Moore Heaney, artistic producer, Noor Theatre; Meena Natarajan, executive and artistic director, Pangea World Theatre; Ryan Opalanietet Pierce, artistic director, Eagle Project; DeLanna Studi, artistic director, Native Voices; K. Zaheerah Sultan, founder and executive director of Mind Your Business Art; Meredith Suttles, managing director, Marin Theatre Company; and Torange Yeghiazarian, founder, Golden Thread Productions.
“These extraordinary times call for new thinking, revitalized structures and deepened commitments,” said Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “The foundation applauds TCG’s active partnership with theatre leaders from the communities they intend to benefit, and we are pleased to support their collective efforts.”
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