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On Being "Pissed" in 2017: The Stage Source Conference

Posted By Julie Hennrikus, Thursday, May 25, 2017

By Adam Sanders

In an interview published in the Harvard Business review Twyla Tharp, the legendary choreographer was prompted by the interviewer: “You’ve said repeatedly that every act of creation is an act of violence and destruction and that one of the artist’s most valuable conditions is ‘being pissed.’” While the prompt is provocative, her response is more constructive: “It’s not the anger per se that’s valuable; it’s the energy that can come from it.”  I haven’t spoken to an artist in Boston that’s not “pissed” right now and the energy in the community is palpable. It’s good that we’re pissed! But we’ve got to come together to collaboratively harness this energy to address specific challenges. That’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to the Stage Source Conference this June 17th. 
The theme for this year’s conference is “Arts Activism: Where Do You Fit In?”  I know many people in the community have a strong sense of themselves as activists, but for me the question has always lived somewhere in the back of my mind. Recently it’s become a primary concern.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  This conference will provide opportunities to be inspired, reflect and brainstorm, get practical advice from actors, playwright, designers, administrators (you name it!), and will conclude with a community session where the group will come together, as activists, and outline goals to tackle in the years ahead. 
You learn pretty quickly in acting that the answer is always in your scene partner.  Looking forward to seeing my partners at the conference and hearing their questions and answers!


ADAM SANDERS BIO: Adam Sanders is the Associate Artistic Director for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company in Boston, MA and the Associate Director of the Sorenson Center for the Arts at Babson College where CSC is the theater in residence. Adam oversees educational and community engagement for CSC, including serving as director for the company’s two actor-training programs: The Apprentice Program and CSC2, as well as directing the annual Stage2 performance series. At Babson, Adam works to strengthen the synergies between arts engagement and entrepreneurial education by programming a year-long performing arts season, cultivating workshops and discussion, and coordinating an undergraduate scholarship program for student-artists.

Tags:  #SC17ArtsAct  Adam Sanders  Babson Arts  StageSource  StageSource Board 

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Why this topic now?

Posted By Julie Hennrikus, Tuesday, May 9, 2017

This year is a conference year for StageSource, and we are excited about our June 17 convening. When we picked our topic last September, we decided to focus on "Arts Activism: Where Do You Fit In?", thinking it would be about the theater community taking on a larger role in advocacy regarding government funding, and around space issues. Given the changes in the past few months, including the potential abolishment of the NEA and the NEH, we are expanding the focus of the conference. Rather than focusing on what the arts community needs, we are going to focus on what our statement of purpose is. How do we intersect with the community? Education? Science? Housing and development? Other sectors? What do we offer? Where can we do better? How do the arts intersect with politics? What is the role of the artist as citizen?

The structure of the day will be interesting, opening with a keynote by Tory Bullock, a panel with arts activists, a conference wide session with Matt Wilson to talk about arts advocacy, with some community organizing lessons for the community. At lunch we will have sessions for specific areas (marketing for new work, playwrights pitching to directors, raising money in 2017, etc.) and roundtables focusing on the business of the arts.


After lunch we will be working on the statement of purpose. There will be two sessions for performative devised work to be created. There will also be several working groups who focus on writing a draft of statements of purpose for the arts community. We look forward to this full day of action, activism, and investment.


Register here. And stay tuned for more input on why this is important to the StageSource board and conference committee.

Tags:  #SC17ArtsAct  Arts Activism  Conference  Julie Hennrikus  StageSource 

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