By Dale Albright, TBA program director
|TBA program director Dale Albright.
What a community we have.
I had the pleasure of attending the Lemonade Fund Variety Show sponsored by Theatre Bay Area’s Individual Services Committee (ISC) at PianoFight a few weeks ago. It has already been reported far and wide that the event raised over $700 toward supporting the Lemonade Fund, Theatre Bay Area’s fund for theatre workers that are critically ill or facing a catastrophic life situation.
It struck me as yet another reminder of the generosity that abounds in our community. Members of TBA's Individual Services Committee, particularly the event’s organizers, Megan Briggs and Alan Olejniczak, donated considerable time and energy in putting together the event. PianoFight donated the space, the performers donated their time and talent—the servers even donated their tips! This is just another example of how extraordinary our community can be in support of each other and this field we all love so much.
Our new strategic plan articulates something that has been in TBA’s DNA for a long time, but never really said in this way: “acting for the good of the entire Bay Area theatre ecosystem.” While the Lemonade Fund is a perfect example of this, it is also an example of something that TBA, as an organization, can’t do on our own. Sure, we can put the pieces in place (we make guidelines, draft the application forms, put them all on the website and process those applications), based on our belief that this fund acts for the good of people who make up this ecosystem. But without community involvement and support such as this recent event, the Lemonade Fund is just a page on a website without any real connection or benefit to anyone.
This is true of almost all of the programs that we do. They are here for you—and they need you. The General and Regional Auditions are useful because of the actors and companies that participate. The TBA Awards program owes its ongoing existence to community adjudicators, participating companies and artists. Every CA$H Grant selection panel is made of artists from our community who want to make sure others get support for their work. The list goes on and on.
How can you join us in our efforts to continue to strengthen, unite, promote and advance Bay Area theatre? There are oh so many ways!
You might read that and think that I am asking for time or for money. And while yes, those things are important (and would certainly be utilized!), I am also thinking of the simple act of staying in touch with us. We are constantly reaching out to our members and the community at large via our Annual Conference and other events, as well as emails and surveys. Do you speak up? Or do you leave someone else to make decisions on your behalf? Do you assume that “surely TBA knows (insert issue here)”? All of our online journalism and blog posts have the option for you to share or post a comment. Have you shared an article or commented? Will you comment on this? Is TBA on your email list when you promote your shows (and I mean this for individual artists as well as companies!)? Have you gotten involved in the social media aspects of the TBA website—groups and forums—to find resources and like-minded allies? Your involvement makes our work possible.
An image has been circulating around Facebook recently with a picture of an iceberg. The top of the iceberg is labeled as “the show” and the vastly larger underside is labeled as “what the audience doesn’t see.” What’s great about this image is that it is so transferrable to TBA’s work. For instance, I love the tip of the “TBA membership” iceberg, those folks who actively participate in community building and professional activities. I really, really do.
But I can’t help but think about what we as an organization, a theatre community and a field would accomplish if we were able to count on the whole darn iceberg that is sitting just out of sight.
Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, and a Bay Area actor and director.