By Brad Erickson
We in the Bay Area like to think of ourselves as living in the epicenter of innovation. And for good reason. Our region is home to a host of the most forward-thinking enterprises on earth. Those enterprises are platforms from which some of the most creative individuals on the planet are changing the way billions of people live, work and play.
That quality of innovation is characteristic of Bay Area theatre-making, where new works develop and thrive, where new takes on classic texts abound and where new approaches to creating art and building community are vigorously embraced.
Merriam-Webster defines innovation as doing “something in a new way; to have new ideas about how something can be done.” The term derives from the Latin innovare: to renew, to restore, to change.
Over the past four decades, Theatre Bay Area has gained a national reputation for constantly innovating to provide the most impactful and meaningful services to theatre-makers in our region. Think of our intrinsic impact research, our ATLAS career development program and our latest research project, Triple Play. Look a little further back to Free Night of Theater, and further yet, to our CA$H grants program, even to our General Auditions, still the largest of their kind on the West Coast. And our popular TBA Awards, while not a novel concept, were uniquely tailored to create a one-of-a-kind program expressly for the Bay Area.
Innovation is at the center of how we work. Now, as we celebrate TBA’s 40th anniversary, we are readying ourselves for the future by launching our Innovation Fund Campaign, a multiyear initiative to equip Theatre Bay Area with the resources required to execute a “rapid response” to the shifting needs and opportunities in the field.
The need is great. The Bay Area theatre community is experiencing urgent pressures from a soaring cost of living, displacement of artists and arts groups and the critical need to address issues of equity and inclusion. Too many of our neighbors never engage with theatre—whether they are newcomers flocking to tech jobs or members of long-underserved communities. Theatre Bay Area stands ready to address these issues, and more—but only if we have the necessary resources at hand to create an effective response.
You can help. Our new Innovation Fund, launching this week, will enable us to address the most urgent needs facing artists and theatre companies as we work to equip theatre-makers for success, increase audience engagement, strengthen our advocacy efforts, recognize achievement and advance our groundbreaking research and development projects, which have impacted not only theatre-makers in the Bay Area but across the United States. Contributions to the Innovation Fund will allow us to create forward-looking programs to benefit theatre-makers, theatre companies and theatre audiences here in the Bay Area—and beyond.
Watch for more on the Innovation Fund, and consider if your theatre-making—or the work of your company or any of your colleagues—has been strengthened by the impact of Theatre Bay Area over the last 40 years. If so, we ask that you help us to keep innovating for the needs of tomorrow—and the next 40 years.
Brad Erickson is executive director of Theatre Bay Area.