TCG Announces THRIVE! Program for Black, Indigenous, Theatres of Color

The Theatres of Color Gathering in St. Louis in June 2018. (Photo by Jenny Graham for Theatre Communications Group)

New York, NY –  Theatre Communications Group (TCG) has launched THRIVE!, a regranting program to provide unrestricted funds and professional development and technical assistance for U.S.-based Black theatres, Indigenous Theatres, and all Theatres of Color (BITOC). With $1,635,000 in support from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, TCG is working in partnership with an Advisory Circle of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to craft a program that will include regranting, leadership development, convening, and widespread dissemination of learnings. At the core of this new program is a call for emergent, complex thinking to help BITOC thrive and reach their highest potential, with opportunities for reflection and collective action. The THRIVE! Program is launching as part of THRIVE! Week, a virtual convening from June 7-11 with programming by, for, and about theatremakers who identify as BIPOC, POC, or People of the Global Majority.

“BITOC have made vital contributions to their communities and to the entirety of our theatre ecology in spite of pernicious racist inequities in funding,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director and CEO, TCG. “We believe that when these barriers are removed, and BITOC have equitable access to fully realize their potential, our field will truly thrive.”

“W.E.B. Du Bois defined Black Theatre as about, by. for, and near Black people. In that spirit, TCG defines BITOC as those who make theatre by, for, about, with, and near communities of color,” said Emilya Cachapero, director of artistic & international programs, TCG. “THRIVE! will build on the long legacies of these theatres to create BITOC-specific programs, connect BITOC to equitable funding from grantmakers, and bring national visibility to and support for the ingenuity of BITOC.”

Working in emergent partnership with BIPOC leaders, THRIVE! will have three main areas of activity:

GRANTMAKING: The program will provide rapid response grants to address immediate conditions as well as larger unrestricted grants to empower BITOC to self-determine areas of their programming and operations that are most in need of funds. Field Conversations with BITOC and BIPOC community leaders will be held early in the program activity period to inform the grant program’s structure.

CONVENING: The experiences of BITOC and BIPOC communities will be centered in THRIVE! Convening programming to uplift their leadership and wisdom, which is not regularly shared with the field at large.

DISSEMINATION: TCG will disseminate learnings and ideas to the U.S. theatre field and beyond through American Theatre magazine, the TCG Circle, convenings like TCG’s National Conference, and other online and in-person platforms. Additionally, BIPOC who are not yet theatre journalists or critics but who exhibit the talent for and interest in writing for the field will be invited to participate as contributing writers.

Working closely with an Advisory Circle of BIPOC theatre leaders and representatives of BITOC throughout the life of the program will ensure that the components are relevant and useful. Advisory Circle members include:

Andrea Assaf, Founding Artistic Director, art2action; Miranda Gonzalez, Producing Artistic Director, Urban Theatre; Andre Harrington, Professor of Design at California State University, San Bernardino; Dr. Nicole Hodges Persley, Artistic Director, KC Melting Pot Theater; Leslie Ishii, Artistic Director, Perseverance Theatre; Jonathan McCrory, Executive Artistic Director, National Black Theatre; Alexandra Meda, Artistic Director, Teatro Luna;  Kate Moore Heaney, Artistic Producer, Noor Theatre; Meena Natarajan, Executive and Artistic Director, Pangea World Theatre; Ryan Opalanietet Pierce, Artistic Director, Eagle Project; DeLanna Studi, Artistic Director, Native Voices; K. Zaheerah Sultan, Founder and Executive Director of Mind Your Business Art; Meredith Suttles, Managing Director, Marin Theatre Company; and Torange Yeghiazarian, Founder, Golden Thread Productions.

To learn more about the program, click here:

“These extraordinary times call for new thinking, revitalized structures and deepened commitments,” said Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “The foundation applauds TCG’s active partnership with theater leaders from the communities they intend to benefit, and we are pleased to support their collective efforts.”

A note about terminology: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color represent over 80% of the global population. TCG acknowledges that BITOC and BIPOC are terms used here for solidarity purposes representing a multiplicity of racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. The terms “BITOC” and “BIPOC” are imperfect and not universally embraced by People of the Global Majority. Language is in a constant state of reimagination and redefinition, and the language used by THRIVE! will likely evolve over the course of the program.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation 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.”

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, leads for a just and thriving theatre ecology. Since its founding in 1961, TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to over 700 Member Theatres and affiliate organizations and over 7,000 Individual Members. Through its programs and services, TCG reaches over one million students, audience members, and theatre professionals each year. TCG offers networking and knowledge-building opportunities through research, communications, and events, including the annual TCG National Conference, one of the largest nationwide gatherings of theatre people; awards grants and scholarships to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and through the Global Theater Initiative, TCG’s partnership with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute. TCG is North America’s largest independent trade publisher of dramatic literature, with 18 Pulitzer Prizes for Drama on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. TCG believes its vision of “a better world for theatre, and a better world because of theatre” can be achieved through individual and collective action, adaptive and responsive leadership, and equitable representation in all areas of practice. TCG is led by executive director and CEO Teresa Eyring and deputy director and COO Adrian Budhu.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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