Fireside Chat with Anne W. Smith: May 2022
Spring Greetings, Everyone,
After a busy month and a half here at TBA, it’s a pleasure to re-connect with our “insiders.”
What a treat it was to join nearly 150 artists and administrators in Berkeley on April 4th to listen, learn, and chat at the first in-person TBA Conference since 2019. The conference, “Brick by Brick: Concrete Actions for Change,” was a dynamic event led by Programs Officer Melissa Hillman that laid the foundation for TBA’s new chapter.
Perhaps it was the immediacy of face-to-face contact or maybe the dynamic mix of conference attendees; nevertheless, the energy of the day sparkled with flowing conversation. Each breakout session presented topics sharpened by the pandemic such as ethics in the workplace, staging marginalized playwrights, equitable pandemic recovery, disability justice, writing proposals in an intersectional world, and workers’ rights for actors, led by actor and TBA columnist Velina Brown. A highlight of the day was the vibrant keynote panel that featured Khalia Davis, Artistic Director of Bay Area Children’s Theatre and Sean San Jose, Magic Theatre’s Artistic Director, as well as TBA board members Dawn Monique Williams, Associate Artistic Director at Aurora Theatre, and Shafer Mazow, Executive Producing Director of Z Space.
Usually by midafternoon at conferences there’s an energy lag. Not this time! Michael Rice, TBA’s intrepid Tech and Membership Officer, expertly led the afternoon participants in a fast-paced hour of collective dreaming. Through Michael’s energetic leadership, the room was quickly flooded with ideas about how to improve our collective community. Hiring locally, sharing resources, and truly practicing anti-racism were prominent themes. I personally loved dialoguing on difficult issues with other attendees and continuing those conversations even after the session as we walked down Shattuck Avenue.
Overall, the conference was an important step towards becoming the TBA we want to be. A TBA whose culture is hallmarked by trust, mutual respect, and responsibility; a TBA that sustainably supports successful leadership among staff, board, and the community we serve.
Earlier this spring, TBA Board alumni established the Brad Erickson Fund for the Future to honor the past, reflect the present, and inspire the future. I ask each and every one of you to join us on this journey of transformation and if you are able, to contribute to our spring fundraiser.
We eagerly anticipate sharing news on the Executive Director search soon … Stay tuned.
Dr. Anne W. Smith
Board President, Theatre Bay Area