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Leadership

Content in this section explores leadership in theatre: best practices, aspects that need to change, and more. It contains one of HowlRound’s most robust Journal series: The Changeover: Leadership in Transition, marking the period of unprecedented turnover of leadership in the nonprofit theatre in the United States and Canada from 2018 to 2021. In this series, incoming or outgoing institutional leaders are in conversation with one another about their tenure leading organizations and their hopes for the future.

The Latest

Transforming Organizational Structures
Podcast
Transforming Organizational Structures
With Eric Lockley of The Movement Theatre Company
by Yura Sapi
15 September 2021
Co-Productions and Rethinking Leadership
Podcast
Co-Productions and Rethinking Leadership
With Maurice Parent of the Front Porch Arts Collective
by Yura Sapi
30 June 2021
Collective Leadership
Essay
Collective Leadership
A Conversation with Red Eye’s Artistic Directors
by Andrew Dolan, Theo Langason, Hayley Finn, Valerie Oliveiro, Emily Gastineau, Rachel Jendrzejewski, Jeffrey Wells
1 April 2021
A headshot of the guest, Eric Lockley, against a galaxy background.
Transforming Organizational Structures
Podcast

Transforming Organizational Structures

With Eric Lockley of The Movement Theatre Company

15 September 2021

Yura Sapi speaks with Eric Lockley, co-founder of the Movement Theatre Company. Lockley is a member of the company’s producing artistic leadership team, who work together to create an artistic social movement by developing and producing new works by artists of color. Their work engages audiences in a rich theatrical dialogue, enlightens communities to the important issues affecting our world, and empowers artists to celebrate the many sides of their unique voice.

A headshot of Maurice Parent against a galaxy background. The Building Our Own Tables logo is left of Parent.
Co-Productions and Rethinking Leadership
Podcast

Co-Productions and Rethinking Leadership

With Maurice Parent of the Front Porch Arts Collective

30 June 2021

In this episode of Building Our Own Tables, Yura Sapi talks about leadership in theatre with Black actor and educator Maurice Parent, a co-producer of the Collective.

Red Eye Theater's seven artistic directors.
Collective Leadership
Essay

Collective Leadership

A Conversation with Red Eye’s Artistic Directors

1 April 2021

The co–artistic directors of Red Eye Theater in Minneapolis talk about shifting to a collaborate leadership model with a horizontal structure and consensus-based process, backdooring their way into traditional funding structures and resources, and more.

Kamilah Forbes portrait.
Imagining a Way Forward
Essay

Imagining a Way Forward

Discussions on Theatre and Race

30 March 2021

Kamilah Forbes, artistic director of the Apollo Theater, speaks with Wes Jackson and P. Carl about the American theatre being a very slow-moving ship, genre-crossing for artists and organizations, systemic racism in the field, and more.

three people posing for a photo in an ikea warehouse
Obvious Agency and Creative Cooperative Futures
Essay

Obvious Agency and Creative Cooperative Futures

15 March 2021

Arianna Gass and Daniel Park share their experience restructuring their company into a worker cooperative and what benefits this model offers.

headshots of the authros
Moving the Field Forward Faster at American Regional Theatres
Essay

Moving the Field Forward Faster at American Regional Theatres

10 March 2021

Robert Barry Fleming, executive artistic director of Actors Theatre, and Courtney Sale, artistic director of Merrimack Repertory Theatre, converse about structural racism and systems of oppression, what can be learned from theatre for young audiences, the possibilities in a post-COVID world, and more.

four people posing for a photo outside in a city
Sharing the Load
Essay

Sharing the Load

Adapting to the Pandemic in a Shared Leadership Role

2 March 2021

In a conversation that took place in November 2020, Meropi Peponides and Yury Urnov discuss stepping into shared leadership roles, adapting during the pandemic, paying salaries to actors, and more.

two people posing for a photo seated in front a marbled grey background
Knowing It’s Time to Go / Savoir quand partir
Essay

Knowing It’s Time to Go / Savoir quand partir

A Conversation on Passing the Torch of Artistic Leadership / Discussion sur le passage du flambeau de la direction artistique  

4 February 2021

David Dower and Martin Faucher discuss leaving their leadership positions at Boston’s ArtsEmerson and Montreal’s Festival TransAmériques, respectively; the balance between artistic responsibility and activist responsibility as artistic leaders; passing the torch to the next generation; and more. / David Dower, directeur artistique du ArtsEmerson de Boston, et Martin Faucher, codirecteur général et directeur artistique du Festival TransAmériques de Montréal, discutent de leur départ respectif, de l’équilibre entre la responsabilité artistique et la responsabilité militante en tant que directeur artistique, du passage du flambeau à la prochaine génération, et plus.

seven actors onstage
"What does it mean to be a woman of color and in leadership?"
Essay

"What does it mean to be a woman of color and in leadership?"

A Conversation with Nicole Brewer and Sophia Skiles

19 January 2021

Sophia Skiles, the incoming head of acting for the Brown/Trinity MFA program, and Nicole Brewer, who recently joined the acting faculty at the Yale School of Drama, dive deep into a conversation about what it means to be a woman of color in leadership.

Lauren E. Turner and No Dream Deferred
Podcast

Lauren E. Turner and No Dream Deferred

Building Our Own Tables Episode #2

16 December 2020

In the second episode of Build Our Own Tables podcast, host Viviana Vargas interviews Lauren E. Turner of No Dream Deferred, a community anchored theatre production company in New Orleans, Louisiana. Your donation to Advancing Arts Forward supports liberated spaces that uplift, heal and encourage us to change the world.

The Necessity of Pivoting
Essay

The Necessity of Pivoting

Interviews on the Future of our Field

16 November 2020

Janice Rabian shares the discoveries she made during her summer research project about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the theatre field and how leaders are pivoting after the murder of George Floyd.

a person standing on a balcony
The Carnival
Essay

The Carnival

Leadership in a Time of "What If?"

22 October 2020

Susan Booth, artistic director of Atlanta’s the Alliance Theatre, talks about how we are currently living in what is referred to as “the carnival” and shares ideas of how artistic organizations ought to react during this time.

a large group posing for a photo
From Nicety to Necessity
Essay

From Nicety to Necessity

21 October 2020

Jack Reuler, artistic director of Minneapolis’s Mixed Blood Theatre, reflects on how the pandemic might just be the great equalizer in the American theatre and how it’s time for theatre to move from being something nice to being something necessary.

tamilla woodard in a green blouse seated and talking
The Work of the Imagination
Essay

The Work of the Imagination

20 October 2020

Tamilla Woodard, co–artistic director of Working Theater in New York, talks about why she makes theatre and offers several “what if” thoughts about how the field should move forward.

view from a hallway of a group standing and talking in a conference room
Searching a Way Forward
Essay

Searching a Way Forward

19 October 2020

Earlier this year, Mark Valdez, hungering for public discourse around the future of the American theatre field, prompted three arts leaders with the question, “What is our purpose now?” This piece kicks off the series of responses.

swirling octopus tentacles.
Catalysing Change Through Artful Agitation: Part I: Be Ill-Disciplined
Video

Catalysing Change Through Artful Agitation: Part I: Be Ill-Disciplined

A performative lecture and Q&A with Kai Syng Tan

Saturday 19 September 2020
United Kingdom

performingbordersLIVE20 and Contact presented Catalysing Change Through Artful Agitation: Part I: Be Ill-Disciplined livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 19 September 2020 at 6:30 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 9:30 a.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 2:30 p.m. BST (London, UTC+1).

three people standing/sitting in a parking lot in front of cars with ribbons on sticks
A Time of Interrogation
Essay

A Time of Interrogation

27 July 2020

Teresa Coleman Wash reflects on how the current state of affairs has fueled an urgency to interrogate all systems of oppression and argues that it’s past time to stop holding Eurocentric theatres up as the pinnacle of success.

a large group posing for a picture
Giving Yourself Permission to Leave
Essay

Giving Yourself Permission to Leave

Two Founding Artistic Leaders Discuss Stepping Down

26 March 2020

Michelle Hensley and Abe Rybeck—former founders and artistic directors of Minneapolis’s Ten Thousand Things and Boston’s the Theater Offensive, respectively—discuss their leadership transition, including knowing when to step back, succession planning, fears of leaving, and more.

two actors embracing
Intimate Reform
Essay

Intimate Reform

Making Space for Leaders of Color

19 March 2020

Ann C. James reflects on the quickly growing field of intimacy direction, arguing that it is vital for the leadership to include people of color so that stories centering on racialized sexual trauma and non-white romantic intimacy can be told in the most truthful ways.

a group standing in a circle with glasses raised
You Say You Want a Revolution…
Essay

You Say You Want a Revolution…

National New Play Network's Continuing Commitment to Radical Change

26 January 2020

Nan Barnett, National New Play Network’s executive director, talks about the organization’s twenty-year evolution; the realization that, as a governing body, they were “really, really white”; and their commitment to turning the organization into a replicable model of a diverse and inclusive ecosystem.

five actors onstage
Balancing Business, Art, and Mission
Essay

Balancing Business, Art, and Mission

A Conversation about Theatre Management

8 December 2019

Early career arts manager Al Heartley speaks with Jennifer Bielstein, executive director of American Conservatory Theater, about active listening, how to balance focusing on the details with looking at the bigger pictures, management values, and more.

lauren e. turner seated at a table
The American Theatre Was Killing Me
Essay

The American Theatre Was Killing Me

Healing from Racialized Trauma in an Art Workspace

18 November 2019

Amelia Parenteau speaks with Lauren E. Turner about racialized trauma in American theatre, Lauren’s experience with it, and healing.

sheet music
To Witness
Essay

To Witness

A Proposal to Build Radical Trust across Difference in the Arts

6 November 2019

Annalisa Dias and Ronee Penoi discuss decolonizing theatre, building trust and relationships across difference, and the act of witnessing.

two people posing for a photo
How To Make Your Leadership Transition a Joyful, Fun Revolution
Essay

How To Make Your Leadership Transition a Joyful, Fun Revolution

6 October 2019

Katy Rubin, founder and former exeuctive director of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, talks with new executive director Meggan Gomez about how long leaders should hold their roles in an organization, mission drift, founder’s syndrome, and more.

two panelists seated in front an audience
Curating Freedom and Power for Women of Color in Leadership
Essay

Curating Freedom and Power for Women of Color in Leadership

26 September 2019

Linda Parris Bailey and Diane Rodriguez talk about their own leadership transitions and what’s next, gender, race, and economic barriers; documenting work; and more.