Theory of Change
HowlRound is a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide that amplifies progressive, disruptive ideas about the art form and facilitates connection between diverse practitioners.
We envision a theatre field where resources and power are shared equitably in all directions, contributing to a more just and sustainable world.
- Generosity and abundance—all are welcome and necessary
- Community and collaboration over isolation and competition
- Diverse aesthetics and the evolution of forms of theatre practice
- Equity, inclusivity, and accessibility for marginalized theatre communities and practices
- Global citizenship—local communities intersecting with global practice
We undertake this work with the following set of underlying assumptions about both the context in which we work, and the pathways of change:
- Theatre can be a tool for individual, community, institutional, and societal transformation.
- We assume that resources and power are abundant.
- We believe the not-for-profit theatre field has enough resources, but many of these resources are currently unevenly distributed, ignored, or dormant in the people and institutions that comprise the field.
- We take a holistic view of resources: cultural, financial, human, knowledge, and natural.
- We believe knowledge is non-rivalrous, and therefore abundant and should be shared freely.
- Dismantling systems of oppression in the theatre field will benefit all.
- Theatremakers are interested in working to create a more resilient theatre field.
- We believe in the vision, power and expertise of historically marginalized communities.
- Connections between people create stronger and healthier communities.
- We acknowledge that we are in a climate emergency, and that the resources we use to make theatre could change rapidly, so we must work urgently, now, to adapt and disrupt our current practices
Participation with HowlRound occurs along three pathways, representing the basis of our work and core programs. We believe that all three pathways—curation of progressive content, commoning, and connecting people to one another digitally and in real life—are necessary to the development of a truly anti-racist, democratic, progressive, and sustainable theatre field.We aim to give theatre practitioners from around the world the tools to freely connect and learn with one another; to promote increased cooperation, collaboration, resource sharing, and relationality that are key attributes of the commons; and to drive bold and progressive ideas into the theatre field.
HowlRound is a knowledge commons that is peer produced by theatremakerswho choose to participate. The foundational building block of this pathway involves: evolving and innovating our digital platform, hosting convenings, the work of the Latinx Theatre Commons, and practice commoning with values-aligned artists, culture workers, and organizations.
Curate Progressive and Disruptive Content
HowlRound’s curation—which is simultaneously community curated and staff curated—is focused on de-centering the status quo through seeking contributions from historically marginalized communities, highlighting a multiplicity of aesthetics and artistic practices, and amplifying issues of social justice, anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the theatre, and driving conversation around the theatre industry’s role in the climate emergency.
Equally important is connecting people and organizations to one another (in order to break silos, combat isolation, and foster community). This pathway involves the HowlRound TV program which broadcasts the efforts of local organizations onto a global platform; hosting regional, national, and international convenings (often in collaboration with the Latinx Theatre Commons or on behalf of the National Playwright Residency Program), and doing outreach to engage various communities in conversation around our published content.
These pathways culminate in several long-term impacts: increased practices of anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion across the field; increased cooperation, collaboration, and relationality among diverse theatremakers; and increased sharing and more efficient and sustainable use of resources. If these long-term impacts are achieved, HowlRound will have made an important contribution to our ultimate vision of a theatre field where resources and power are shared equitably in all directions contributing to a more just, and sustainable world.
Glossary of Terms
Commons: Commons are living social systems through which people meet their needs in self-organized and collaborative ways. In a commons, a distinct community governs a shared resource and its usage. At HowlRound, our resource is shared knowledge, aligned with our stated curatorial and values agenda, contributed by the theatremakers who make up the HowlRound community, licensed freely and openly through the Creative Commons. HowlRound is made up resources that we create together for our collective benefit.
Commons-based practices: Practices that promote relationality, cooperation, horizontal and decentralized decision-making and networks, bottom-up activity, and peer-to-peer sharing of infrastructure, material goods, knowledge, and ideas.
Commoning: The social practices and norms for managing a resource for collective benefit.
Diverse Aesthetics: Recognizing the multiplicity of forms that create our theatre field including but not limited to: interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work, ensemble and devised work, physical theatre, puppet theatre, site specific theatre, immersive theatre, experimental theatre, theatre that integrates new technologies, theatre that does not subscribe to an Aristotelian dramaturgy.
Diversity: Understanding that each individual is unique, and embracing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, ability, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.
Equity: Fair and just practices and systems for all people. We see this as practices and systems that are pro-disability rights, anti-capitalist, anti-classist, anti-racist, pro-women, pro-LGBTQIA+, pro-people of color, and supportive of alternatives to white supremacy in the arts, including notions of “artistic excellence” as synonymous with Western ideals.
Peer Production: All of HowlRound’s content and activities come from the community of people who choose to participate. The direction of the discourse is determined by and for the community; the community drives the conversation. HowlRound creates and maintains the values container and shared infrastructure for this project and invites users to create within it.
Progressive and Disruptive: Ideas and resources that challenge the status quo and grow a more adaptable, anti-racist, equitable, diverse, just, and sustainable theatre field.
Theatremakers: Artists, arts administrators, producers, cultural managers, cultural organizers—all people who work in the theatre field.
The HowlRound Theory of Change was developed in collaboration with the guidance of Julie Carpineto.