Announcement from Mark Valdez

Dear NET friends and supporters:

By September 30th, 2015 I will be stepping down from my position as Executive Director of the Network of Ensemble Theaters.  

I've been with NET for eight years and, together, we've not only built up the organization but also advanced a national movement for co-creation. NET is busting at the seams, ready to enter its next iteration, and the timing felt right to make this change. My plans include spending more time working in my neighborhood, doing some writing on ensembles and ensemble practice, and making art (I've a few projects I've been sitting on that I'm ready to delve into!).

But this isn't good-bye, not yet. A whole lot will happen between now and September, which I hope you'll be a part of--including our National Gathering in Maine this August.  You can also find the press release about my departure below.

Thank you for your trust and your help over the years. Truly, we do it together.

Much love,



April 23, 2015 
CONTACT: Sherrine Azab


Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) Announces Leadership Transition
Executive Director Mark Valdez to Leave; NET to Move to Co-Director Model

Los Angeles, CA – The Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) announced that Executive Director Mark Valdez will be leaving NET by September 2015 in order to conduct his work as a theatre artist on a full-time basis. NET will launch a fundraising campaign to honor Valdez’s significant impact on the ensemble theatre field. Under Valdez, NET grew from a loose network of ensemble practitioners into a robust organization that saw membership quadruple and the range of programs significantly increase. Alisha Tonsic, NET's Managing Director, will assume the newly created position of co-director as part of a move into a shared leadership structure that more intentionally models ensemble values and practices.

"When I first arrived at NET, so much of my time was spent explaining and justifying ensembles and ensemble practice. Today, it's just a given. The field has evolved toward ensemble and co-creation. And as the field has grown, so has NET. The organization is strong, the field is robust and vibrant, and the time is right to step aside as NET enters its next phase,” said Executive Director Mark Valdez. “It's been a gift to work at the national level, because you see so much: so much dedication, so much good work, so much risk taking. It's inspiring. As an artist, I've been re-energized by my work at NET. I want to take this inspiration and make art. I have new perspectives and insights that I didn't before, and the only way I know to unpack them is to make art. So, with a lot of excitement and some sadness, I'm stepping down as NET's Executive Director. Though you can be sure I'll remain a NET member."

“We salute Mark, our visionary leader, creative colleague, and boundless enthusiast! He has helmed us well, imagining, then realizing journeys that took us to so many fascinating places, creating so many vital, abiding connections—artists with communities, artists with artists, communities with communities,” said Laurie McCants, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble member and co-president of NET’s Board of Trustees. “He has transformed NET, and transformed the field, with his clarity of intention and rigorous attention to advancing our values of inclusion and knowledge-building. And his ebullient optimism will help to carry us forward as he continues his journey with us as a member. Onward, inspiring ensemble artist!”

Valdez joined NET in 2007 as the organization’s first paid staff member. His legacy at NET includes significant growth in membership, programming, and field-wide advocacy. Notable programs enacted under his tenure include: the NET Travel & Exchange Network (NET/TEN), a grant program which has provided nearly 60 opportunities for knowledge-sharing and collaboration between NET members and allies across 28 states and 12 countries; the MicroFest cycles, a series of hyper-local think-tanks and performance festivals offering a model of regional organizing for national impact; and the newly-launched Symposia series, which convenes practitioners to explore the intersection of ensembles and colleges/universities. During his tenure, Valdez has maintained an active career as an educator, writer, and director, working at such theatres as Mixed Blood Theatre Company and Cornerstone Theater Company. As he pursues his work as a theatre artist, Valdez will continue to serve NET in an advisory and consulting capacity to ensure a smooth transition.

Tonsic will move into the newly created position of co-director, from which she will collaboratively lead NET alongside a second co-director. A national search is underway for the second co-director role, to be filled by an ensemble practitioner in order to continue the artist-driven leadership and vision that was so central to Valdez’s legacy. This move to a co-director structure will strengthen operations, build best practices for collaborative leadership, and model the values of ensemble practice championed by NET’s mission.

Mark Valdez is a director, writer, and educator based in Los Angeles. Current artistic projects include: directing Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis and creating an audience participation game for the Alliance Theatre, scheduled for July 2015. Mark is a 2015 MAP Fund recipient for his upcoming project, All Latino, All the Time.  Other directing credits include the first-ever approved adaptation of the Kaufman and Hart classic You Can't Take It With You, adapted to LA's Muslim community, and a bilingual Spanish-English adaptation of the musical comedy The Pajama Game. Mark has directed world premiere plays by Erik Ehn, Tracey Scott Wilson, Jose Cruz Gonzalez, Peter Howard, Rickerby Hinds, and most recently, Will MacAdams’ Flor, a bilingual community collaboration with the residents of Arvin, CA. His play Around Atlanta on $80 (an adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days) was recently presented through the Alliance Theatre’s Collisions Project. Mark has led workshops and participated on panels for TCG, Lincoln Center, Southwest Arts Conference, Leadership for a Changing World, REDCAT, NYU, The New School, ATHE, NEA, the Ford Foundation, and many others. He received an MFA in Directing from UC Irvine and is the recipient of a Princess Grace Foundation Award for Directing.

Alisha Tonsic is Managing Director for the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET), where she has been on staff since 2009 and was Board Treasurer from 2006-2009. Alisha has over 20 years experience in arts administration, gained through general management, finance, fundraising, and literary management positions at organizations that include American Repertory Theater (MA), Berkeley Repertory Theatre (CA), Manhattan Theatre Club (NY), McCarter Theatre (NJ), and Theatre Communications Group (NY), as well as work as an independent non-profit arts management consultant focusing on the unique needs of small- and mid-sized companies. From 2003-2012, she served as the first Managing Director for Sojourn Theatre (OR), working in partnership with founding Artistic Director Michael Rohd and the company’s ensemble. Alisha was one of two managers selected nationally as a "future theatre leader"in the inaugural round of the TCG New Generations Program in 2001, and was named an Unsung Hero of Portland Theatre in 2009.  She has served on national and regional grant selection panels, and as a member of Theatre Bay Area's Theatre Services Committee. Alisha received a BA in Theatre and in English from Barnard College, Columbia University, and is based in Portland, Oregon.

A national coalition of ensembles created by and for artists, the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) exists to propel ensemble theater practice to the forefront of American culture and society.  NET links a diverse array of ensembles and practitioners to one another and the performing arts field, encouraging collaborations and knowledge building and dissemination. NET is committed to the advancement of the ensemble form and strives to bring about change in the world beyond ourselves through the transformative power of collaborative theater. We support bold artistic and civic experiments and aim to heighten the impact and excellence of ensemble theater. 

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Thursday, April 23, 2015
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