Field Conversations was a listening initiative funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation. TCG conducted Field Conversations in 2010, 2006 and 1999. TCG gathered listening research through Round Tables, Town Halls and Surveys. Each of the three sets of Field Conversations had its own set of issues, its own tone and its own dynamics. There was no attempt to reach consensus on any particular issue. TCG’s goal was to listen to the field, synthesize the findings and report back to its members.
One of TCG's key responsibilities is to listen to the needs of our constituents and to respond in ways that will help strengthen, nurture and promote the American theatre ecology. While we do this in a variety of ways throughout the year, we are periodically able to create a formal listening opportunity, which we call Field Conversations. The Field Conversations' goal was to investigate relationships between individual artists and institutions, and to identify successes, challenges and ways to strengthen relationships. In Spring 2010, an initital exploration began with a series of five teleconferences with freelance actors, directors, designers, playwrights and dramaturgs which created the basis for the project. These initial teleconferences were led by Susan Booth, Alliance Theatre's artistic director and Aya Ogawa, TCG's assistant director of artistic programs. An executive report from the 2010-2011 Field Conversations entitled, Dissolving the Barriers by Celia Wren was published in the 2011 July/August issue of American Theatre magazine. Click here for the executive findings.
Please email Emilya Cachapero with any questions about this program. Field Conversations was generously funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
1) Round TableIn Fall 2010, the three-part Field Conversations project was launched with Round Table Conversations in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Participants included: individual artists, artistic and managing leaders from both TCG Member and non-member theatres, trustees and educators. TCG partnered with local service organizations which included: the Los Angeles Stage Alliance, The League of Chicago Theatres and the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York. These meetings were facilitated by Kathie deNobriga and Caron Atlas and organized by Emilya Cachapero, TCG's director of artistic programs. 2) Town HallThe second phase of this project included Town Hall Meetings which commenced in early 2011. TCG encouraged artistic communities across the country to organize informal, volunteer Town Hall Meetings in which individual artists and theatre staff talked openly about successes and challenges they faced while working together and addressed themes and issues that were raised during the Round Tables. David Denson, TCG's National Conference associate producer managed this portion of the Field Conversations. Click here to view the Town Hall Meeting Talking Points. Click here to view the Town Hall Meeting Guidelines. 3) SurveyIn late January 2011, for the third and last section of Field Conversations, a State of the Artists Survey was sent to individual artists to help TCG gather quantitative information about artists' working conditions and relationships with organizations. The survey portion was designed, implemented and interpreted by Chris Shuff, TCG's director of management programs and Mark Shugoll, CEO of Shugoll Research and TCG board member. Click here for the State of the Artists Survey Summary Report.
Realizing the last set of conversations pre-dated 9/11, in winter 2006, Theatre Communications Group listened to what working professionals were saying about the current state of the American not-for-profit theatre within the new polarized funding and political climate. More than 100 theatre company leaders and independent artists gathered in four cities at a series of meetings. Organizations represented included: large, small, and mid-sized theatres from every region of the country.
Each of the four 2006 conversations had its own set of issues, its own tone, and its own dynamics. Each, however, addressed the intensity of the times, the increased sense of pressure, and the heightened scrutiny organizations were facing. The conversations explored the following questions: How has the post-9/11 political and economic environment altered the landscape for theatres, artists, and audiences? What about the war in Iraq and the emergence of new technologies? What trends noted in 1999 have intensified or abated, and what new ones have arisen?
Participants shared their ideas, opinions, and aspirations through an open dialogue. There was no attempt to reach consensus on any particular issue, and there was a healthy diversity of opinion.
An executive report from the 2006 Field Conversations entitled Where Are We Now? TCG calls together theatre pros to take the pulse of the field, was published in the 2006 July/August issue of American Theatre magazine. Click here for the executive findings. Please email Emilya Cachapero with any questions about this program.
The 2006 Field Conversations was generously funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Gwen Cochran Hadden
March 1, 2006Washington, DCConversations were held at Arena Stage.
February 28, 2006Boston, MAConversations were held at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion.
February 25, 2006Louisville, KYConversations were held at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
February 23, 2006Los Angeles, CAConversations were held at Cornerstone Theater Company.
During the 1999 spring, TCG conducted its first attempt in more than a decade to capture the state of the field (both the challenges as well as what people thought about the future and the feasibility of achieving their different goals) by holding a sequence of meetings to hear what people were thinking and saying about their work within the not-for-profit theatre world. TCG had no intentions regarding what came out of the discussions except a desire to accurately report back to the field what they were saying.
As a precursor to the entire TCG membership’s involvement at the June 1999 National Conference in San Francisco, about eighty invited people, from a diverse group of TCG affiliated and non-affiliated theatres, came together in five small groups to grapple with major challenges and possibilities facing the theatre. After the conversations, participants were asked to complete a follow-up survey listing their top three most pressing concerns and what areas they would most like to devote new resources and attention.
As a result of the 1999 Field Conversations, two articles were published in the January 2000 issue of American Theatre magazine. For Mapping a New Landscape by Ben Cameron click here. For The Field and its Challenges by Stephanie Coen, Stephen C. Forman, and Ben Cameron click here.
Please email Emilya Cachapero with any questions about this program. The 1999 Field Conversations was generously funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.
Stephen C. Forman
Spring of 1999 Conversations were held in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and New York.