jakub | June 9, 2024

AMERICAN THEATRE | Leaders in a Time of Transformation

It’s been said that the only constant in the world is change. In the theatre we’ve seen that play out in so many ways in the last four years, from adapting the way we deliver art to audiences to innovating the ways we engage with our communities. At TCG, we’re undergoing our own changes, not dissimilar to the ones that member theatres are experiencing across the country. We’ll dig into that, but first we want to introduce ourselves in these new roles.

LATESHIA: I was born in Houston and later moved to Atlanta (where I’m based), starting in the theatre world as a young actress. I acted professionally for a bit, and then transitioned to arts administration in development at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company. I joined TCG in September 2021 as director of institutional philanthropy, and I’m thrilled to serve as interim chief growth officer in this exciting moment of transition for the organization. I’m especially grateful to be co-leading with Karena, whom I had the pleasure of meeting through TCG’s SPARK Leadership program.

LaTeshia Ellerson.

One thing that has brought me joy recently is our February THRIVE! Program webinar, Real Talk with Grantmakers, hosted by the TCG grantmaking department. I was excited to share space with BIPOC leaders as they connected and reconnected with funders. Events like these reinforce the importance of transformative gifts and sustainable resources for theatres. While at True Colors, I saw firsthand how, when theatres are given the financial resources to reach people where they live—not only physically, but also where their soul lives—this awakens audiences in such a way that they continuously answer to the invitation to support our institutions.

Regardless of your budget size, I hope this issue invites you to develop a vision on how your theatre can reallocate time and space to nurture relationships with the various communities around you. And for audience members reading this issue, I hope you discover ways you can engage and accept the invitation!

Karena Fiorenza.

KARENA: Seconding that SPARK alum pride! I’m currently living in Los Angeles with my husband, toddler, and fluffy dog. I’m bringing two decades of experience as an equity-driven executive leader with a demonstrated history of initiating positive organizational change to my new role as interim chief executive offi cer at TCG. I am a modern stained- and fused-glass artist and am the first/only person from my immigrant family to go to college (I have two degrees from UC Berkeley and an MFA in Theatre Management from Yale University).

One thing bringing me joy: Our national conference in Chicago is coming up June 20-22; visit tcg.org to register. I am so pleased that one of our keynote speakers will be James Rhee, founder of red helicopter and a self-described goodwill strategist. He’ll join me onstage for a conversation I know will address our collective quest for better relationships with our audiences and each other.

In this issue, theatre workers, board members, and audience members reflect on what keeps them coming back season after season. For some, it is the chance to catch up with old friends; and for others it’s a chance to share experiences with grandparents and grandchildren. For still others, it’s about experiencing stories that transport them to new worlds. Whatever the reasons, it’s time we face outward and give the people who patronize the theatre a round of applause. Brava to the audiences! We’ll see you soon.

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