TCG Launches Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project

by Jacob Coakley
The Video Roll-Out of TCG’s Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project Includes Screening Events in Five Cities
The Video Roll-Out of TCG’s Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project Includes Screening Events in Five Cities

NEW YORK—Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, launched its new Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project (LLCVP). Working with MOPED, a video production company, and with support from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, TCG filmed a series of interviews chronicling the stories of founding leaders of theatres of color. An introductory Launch video featuring all nine leaders is now available on the TCG website, and the full online roll-out of videos will begin in January 2017.

More info from TCG:

This will be followed by screening events in the leaders’ communities to further celebrate their legacies and galvanize support for their enduring impact. Watch the Launch video here: http://www.tcg.org/TheNext50Years/EDIInitiative/Legacy.aspx.

The nine leaders featured in the videos are: Lou Bellamy, Penumbra Theatre, St Paul, MN; Tisa Chang, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, New York, NY; Frank Chin, Asian American Theater Company, San Francisco, CA; Miriam Colón, Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, New York, NY; Woodie King, Jr., New Federal Theatre, New York, NY; Muriel Miguel, Spiderwoman Theater, New York, NY; Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago, IL; Luis Valdez, El Teatro Campesino, San Juan Baptista, CA; and Douglas Turner Ward, Negro Ensemble Company, New York, NY.

 “Our theatre field and broader culture owe an enormous debt to the artistry and activism of these extraordinary leaders,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. “We hope these videos and screening events not only honor these nine leaders, but raise awareness more broadly of the essential role played by theatres of color in our field. As more and more theatres make equity, diversity, and inclusion central to their work, we must remember the theatres that have been working with artists and communities of color for generations.”

The Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project is one of the key elements of TCG's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)  Initiative’s “Establishing a Baseline” programming, which also includes REPRESENT, a demographic survey that thinks outside the checkbox, and The Well, a hub of EDI-related resources. “Establishing a Baseline” was initially supported by a National Projects grant from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF), and this next phase has received Phase II funding from DDCF’s 2016 Fund for National Projects.

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Program Director for the Arts Maurine Knighton said, “Each of the nine leaders whom TCG has interviewed has made tremendous contributions to the American theatrical canon. We are confident that by capturing their firsthand accounts and addressing the under-documentation of their work, this project can greatly encourage current and future theater-makers creating pioneering work that expands the community of theater.”

The screening series will be led by Elena Chang, TCG’s associate director of equity, diversity & inclusion, and August Schulenburg, TCG’s director of communications & community engagement, and will roll-out over an 18-month period in the leaders’ communities.

“It is an honor to debut the Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project,” said Chang. “There’s a diversity of talent and perspectives that are showcased, but at the heart is the unrelenting passion of these legacy leaders to drive meaningful change and bring to light voices from communities of color as an integral part of the American theatre narrative. We look forward to sharing this project highlighting these leaders’ influential contributions with the larger community and can’t wait to see the conversations they ignite.”

The filming process of the LLCVP was produced by former TCG director of communications & conferences Dafina McMillan over a two-year period in collaboration with producer and director Anna Sang Park of MOPED Productions; and with the support of TCG staff, including associate producers Ty Defoe, former equity, diversity & inclusion fellow, and Emilya Cachapero, director of artistic & international programs.

The interviews reveal how these leaders were inspired to: create opportunities lacking for artists of color; to challenge appropriation and misrepresentation through staging the full richness and complexity of racial, ethnic and cultural identities; to gain political power and creative autonomy; and to contribute their unique aesthetic and social perspectives to our culture. The LLCVP will not only honor the elders, but through their online release and the screening series, serve as a roadmap for future theatre leaders and raise broader cultural awareness of the impact of theatres of color.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties. The Arts Program of DDCF focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.

MOPED is a full-service digital media and video production company that intersects stories that matter with technology — to catalyze conversation, mobilize audiences and drive impact both on and offline. We help you achieve heightened visibility, audience understanding and greater success, by developing your story as a vehicle, and then leveraging the platforms you’ll use to share it with the world. http://mopedproductions.tv/ 
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For over 50 years, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, has existed to strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit theatre. TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to nearly 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 11,000 individuals nationwide. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through conferences, events, research and communications; awards grants, approximately $2 million per year, to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute, connecting its constituents to the global theatre community. TCG is North America’s largest independent publisher of dramatic literature, with 14 Pulitzer Prizes for Best Play on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre. www.tcg.org.