July Note from Executive Director Alisha Tonsic

Dear Friends –

Happy summer!  July marks the start of NET’s fiscal year, and here’s the thing: the coming months have all kinds of treasures in store, and we can’t wait to revel in them together!

But before charging ahead, a grateful and celebratory glance back to late May in Chicago. With the dedicated support of event partners Columbia College Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres, NET welcomed over 200 ensemble artists, practitioners, educators, students, and allies to our 2016 Intersection Symposium on ensemble theater practice and training. Offering new perspectives and learning at every turn, the diverse mix of participants and jam-packed programming included 40+ workshops, panels, pre-conference sessions, roundtables, and performances by local ensembles (NET members Lucky Plush Productions, The Neo-Futurists, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Walkabout Theater Company, and many others).

Some personal highlights: 

  • the multi-voice, co-created, opening keynote collage—a chorus of local artists providing Chicago context and a warm welcome, layered with national attendees’ participatory, mic-passing, rapid-fire responses to “what is ensemble?”
  • a powerful and lively discussion at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago on activist artmaking, immigration, and border politics with visiting Mexican ensemble Teatro Línea de Sombra
  • and the fierce energy, demonstration of values in practice, and inspiring next-generation leadership of the students and youths attending Sunday’s peer-run Young Ensemble Practitioners Summit, who created an impromptu piece onsite about systemic injustice, then surprised us with a performance excerpt for the Symposium’s closing plenary. (pictured to the right)

If you weren’t able to be in Chicago (or you were, but want to peek at that cool-sounding session you missed to go to that other cool session!), visit HowlRound for a video archive of select Symposium programming, or download the event program for more info. 

To wrap up, two pieces of news:

1) As a proud Pacific Northwest resident, I’m thrilled to invite you to attend NET’s next national event, the 2017 National Gathering & Intersection Symposium, in Seattle.  Block off your calendars now for June 22-25, 2017, and plan to be there! 

2) And last but very far from least, a huge final announcement: NET recently received $750,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue the NET/TEN program! This extraordinary commitment is the largest grant in NET’s history; it renews funding for NET/TEN through 2019 and provides organizational capacity building support for NET. Since the NET/TEN program’s start, we’ve awarded over $500,000 in grants for NET members’ travel and exchanges, and we’re over the moon to continue offering these important relationship-building opportunities to the field. Revised NET/TEN guidelines and application calendars will be available in August for the next granting cycle – so stay tuned, and start thinking about a 2016 Fall Travel Grant application to submit in late September!

Until then…may you find restorative and reinvigorating moments of stillness, joy, connection, and creative celebration in this summer season.

In community,

Alisha Tonsic
Executive Director

NET Board members at Intersection Symposium and Board meeting in Chicago (L to R): Gus Schulenburg, Lisa Mount, Denis Griesmer, Amrita Ramanan, Alisha Tonsic, Claudia Alick, Ben Yalom. (NET Board missing from photo: Debbie Chinn, Deb Clapp, Jane Jung, Cynthia Ling Lee, Todd London, Laurie McCants, Michael Rohd, Godfrey L. Simmons Jr., and Leslie Tamaribuchi)

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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