Quita smiles with her arms crossed over her lap.
Senior Program Director, Theater

On June 20, I was lucky enough to stand on the stage at the Theatre Communications Group's national conference and accept the National Funders Award on NEFA’s behalf, which was presented by NTP advisor and TCG board chair Diane Rodriguez of Center Theatre Group. This award was to acknowledge the work that NEFA has done, through the National Theater Project, and in part, to acknowledge the contributions made to the field by our former executive director Rebecca Blunk, who had retired this past March. I returned home the following Sunday to find that Rebecca had passed that morning. I am extremely grateful that I was able to accept this award on behalf of NEFA and Rebecca, and was able to acknowledge her work before a national audience. Following are my remarks at the presentation.

Thank you, Diane.

On behalf of my colleagues at NEFA, its National Theater Project and our former ED Rebecca Blunk, it is a great honor to accept this TCG award. Thank you TCG. We consider it a privilege to support the artists, presenters, and theaters that are doing such amazing and exciting work.

Our programs support artists across many forms of expression and many geographies, connecting them with collaborators and communities, fueling creative exchange and public discourse, and strengthening the creative economy. The goal of each program and project that is brought to life at NEFA is to build a stronger and more dynamic infrastructure for the arts – through grants, convenings, online tools, and research.

After the initial research and planning in 2009, NEFA created the National Theater Project, supported by the AWMF. Modeled in part on that other program that you are probably familiar with, NEFA’s National Dance Project, NTP was designed as a program that would promote the development of new artist-led ensemble, and devised theater work while extending the life of these projects through touring. The work supported reflects the evolving theater environment, exposes audiences to exciting new work, and nurtures partnerships between artists and development and presenting partners. Not including the next round of grantees, NTP will have supported 25 projects that have or will have traveled to 28 states and the District of Columbia. Projects that have been supported come from companies and collaborations that you already know well to some that you don’t know now but will soon know – from the Wooster Group and SITI Company to Mondo Bizarro, Progress Theatre and Complex Movements.

Presenters that have received subsidies and travel grants range from national parks to military bases, from regional theaters to retirement homes. TCG theaters can, and have, participated by bringing NTP projects into your spaces, not merely for performances (although we really like those) but also by extending your generosity and nurturing projects during development, working with them on creating other partnerships that will help the project move (because we know it's all about relationships) - we're a big fan of co-pros, and spreading the word that there is some really great work happening out there.

Although I have the honor of standing up here and accepting the award, I’m not NTP all by myself– there are many people who make the program work. First, I have to acknowledge the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Without them, this project would not be possible. So, thank you Susan, Katie, and all of the folks at Mellon. Other funders have supported NTP – thank you to the California Community Foundation, and the City of LA Department of Cultural Affairs. One of the most fun parts of managing this program is working with NTP’s Advisors. From the beginning, NTP has benefited from the care and expertise of the 18 people who have served as Advisors – Diane, Rob, Michael, Morgan, Shay, Clyde, Mark, David, Cathy, Chuck, Mike, Colleen, Howard, Lisa, Meiyin, Carlton, Lane, Raelle – as well as the dedication of the others who are or have served on the NTP team: Sandy, Elizabeth, and now Meena, and of course Jane Preston our Interim Co-Executive Director and Director of Programs, and Rebecca Blunk who retired from NEFA after 29 years of serving NEFA and the arts both nationally and regionally. And of course, last but not at all the least, there are the incredible artists that NTP has the privilege of supporting. So, on behalf of all of us participating in the experiment that is the National Theater Project, thank you TCG for this award.