NEW YORK CITY: TheFrontOffice Foundation will award its inaugural mid-career grant to Mina Morita, the director of artistic and artist development at Crowded Fire Theater Company in San Francisco. The $25,000 grant, which is both merit- and need-based, is one of the largest financial awards presented to an individual director. The award aims to recognize a deserving artist and to keep a spotlight on the gender inequities that remain ever present in the field for female identifying directors.
“Mina Morita is the perfect candidate for this award, and on behalf of our committee, we are so thrilled for her,” said Wendy C. Goldberg in a statement. Goldberg started the Foundation during the pandemic to aid theatre artists, but added that even before the pandemic, “It was blazingly clear that little to no support was available for mid-career directors—there were no awards of this magnitude. These types of awards only existed for playwrights…The goal with this grant is to draw attention to the support of directors, as well as encourage other funders to create some structures of support for our country’s most gifted artists.”
Goldberg added, “We learned via SDC’s On The Edge Study that women directors fall out of the membership when they should be flourishing, all of which my community knew to be true, and it was now confirmed with data.”
Mina Morita has worked at various theatres including the Guthrie Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Magic Theatre, and Center REPertory Company, with such creators as Susan Soon He Stanton, Qui Nguyen, Anna Deavere Smith, Star Finch, J.C. Lee, Christopher Chen, Lauren Gunderson, and Isaac Gomez, among others. She was recognized as a Beinecke Fellow with Yale University in 2022 and will be directing Sanaz Toossi’s English at Berkeley Rep in Spring 2023. Previously, Mina served as the artistic associate at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and its center for the creation and development of new work, the Ground Floor. Her commitment to equity and anti-racism work extends to participation in groups including: the Bay Area Artists for Racial Justice, the Making Good Trouble Anti-Racist Training Program, the Bay Area Accountability Workgroup, TCG’s ED&I Institute, and with the Hewlett Foundation.
The selection committee was led by Wendy Goldberg, Patricia McGregor, Robert O’Hara, Lisa Peterson, and Chay Yew. Leading funders for the grant include directors Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown), Tamilla Woodard, Pam MacKinnon (Clybourne Park), Lear deBessonet (Into The Woods), Wendy C. Goldberg and TheFrontOffice, Lila Neugebauer, and individual donors Peggy J. Koenig and Jerry and Roz Meyer.
“I am astonished and humbled to be recognized by this accomplished panel of colleagues, as well as grateful for the life-changing generosity of Wendy C. Goldberg, TheFrontOffice Foundation, Peggy J. Koenig, Jerry & Roz Meyer, and directors Rachel Chavkin, Tamilla Woodard, Lear DeBessonet, and Lila Neugebaur,” said Morita in a statement. “The significance of this moment is that, for me, it recognizes years of dedication to the Bay Area theatre ecosystem as an arts leader, which has deepened my abilities and craft as a director. The resources I am receiving will be focused on my continued development as a director through various trainings and retreats; on work with BIPOC-centered companies that may not otherwise have the finances to invite me into a development process as an out-of-town director; and on support with health care after over a decade of paying my own way.”
Wendy C. Goldberg’s TheFrontOffice is an entertainment development company that specializes in crossover content from live theatre to new media. Founded in 2019, the company seeks to develop content and stories for our times. TheFrontOffice Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, was established in 2020 to support the live theatrical community during the industry shut down and beyond.
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