Thank you to everyone who participated in the second part of our 2020 TCG Virtual Conference: Re:Emergence-Convening (Part 1 of R:Emergence- Convergence took place virtually in May). In response to the loss of so many Black lives to police brutality and the ever present reality of White supremacy, we reframed all of our programming through two criteria: does this session center Black, Indigenous, People of Color?; and does it actively work to dismantle White supremacy? Close to 2000 people were in attendance over the four days, and you can find the archive videos here.
Taking our National Conference virtual this year was a major feat, and was just one of the larger changes underway at TCG as a result of COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, we quickly realized two things: first, that our field would face catastrophic revenue loss; and second, that we needed our collective power more than ever. We decided to renew all of our Member Theatres regardless of their capacity to pay membership dues, and remove the financial barriers to attending the conference by eliminating registration fees. Thanks to the Payroll Protection Program, we made it through one of our busiest seasons with our staff fully intact; however, we must now make the kinds of difficult decisions regarding staff and programming so many of you have also endured. We’ve tried to do so through an equity lens, while also aligning with the vision emerging from our strategic planning process, led by Yancey Consulting. Here are some of the programmatic changes at TCG that may affect you moving forward:
- American Theatre magazine is pausing its print edition at least through December 2020 while continuing online. Over the next six months we’ll continue to report the news, publish special online issues, host our podcast series, and launch new live virtual events. Please read Rob Weinert-Kendt’s letter to learn more about how American Theatre will keep the ghost light on.
- We’re closing our in-house research department after completing current activities like the Fiscal Survey 2019. We are grateful that so many of you have already invested substantial time and energy into the survey, and Ilana Rose will be available to support any final questions you have until Wednesday, June 24. We will use the next several months to reflect deeply on what research is most needed and how we can most effectively collect and analyze data, including through new and existing partnerships. We will continue our longstanding collaboration with Dr. Zannie Voss and SMU DataArts, and we’ll share more details soon.
- We’re evaluating TCG’s expanding role as a virtual convener and how that may impact future large-scale convenings, such as the Fall Forum on Governance and National Conference. We’ll continue to provide distance learning and peer-networking opportunities on the Circle and through Zoom webinars and meetings. These opportunities have been invaluable, giving theatre practitioners effective ways to learn, make new friends, and take action.
- TCG Books will publish fewer titles this year, going from its current amazing pace of 25-30 new books a year to 15 new books. Please remember to visit our astonishing catalogue of plays, built up over 36 years, for some inspiration while your favorite theatres are dark.
In making these programmatic shifts, the most painful part has been reducing our full-time staff, while also moving some staff members to part-time. Each of the people leaving TCG have made vital contributions to this organization and to the field we serve. More than that, they are trusted colleagues and beloved friends.
Like any significant transition, these changes involve loss as well as renewed purpose and opportunity. As I shared in my closing remarks at Re:Emergence, we don’t know what TCG or our field will look like six months from now, let alone a year. But just like our founding mothers of 60+ years ago, many of you, many of us, have a vision. It is that collective vision, and most especially that of our BIPOC colleagues, our disabled colleagues, our queer and trans colleagues, our survivors, our immigrants and refugees, who will lead the way. Let us have faith in each other, during this time of revolution and rebirth.