ATCA on the move: a comprehensive report
Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 10:45PM
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Coming out of productive meetings in New York and drawing on much work beforehand, excom chair Bill Hirschman has a lot to announce: proposals on ATCA’s membership and governance; sharing the NY conference via video; volunteers for international meetings; nominations  for the Steinberg/ATCA and Osborn Awards; Primus Prize finalists; “Philadelphia, here we come” (April 6-10); Elections supervisor?; membership directory; speaking out; Excom vacancies … . All this follows.

Nov. 19, 2015 —
The Excom met all day a week ago in New York City to tackle a dozen issues and hear reports from most of the committees. When it’s reviewed all in one place, there is more activity large and small in various states than even we realized. We’ll be sending you updates and committee reports over the next few weeks rather than drown you with all of it here. So watch your in-box and drop in on our website.

The most crucial news is this: There are evolving game-changing proposals for consideration about our membership criteria, our ethical code of conduct and the precise process for electronic voting to empower the entire membership for electing officers as well as for changing by-laws and deciding major policy issues for our future.

Some of this will involve discussion online (more on the process coming soon) and some crucial membership votes at the Philadelphia conference, April 6-10.

Conference recap (With A Surprise For Those Who Weren’t There)

If you were at the New York City meeting, you know Sherry Eaker and Ira Bilowit with help from Barry Gaines, Leslie Torvik, Lou Harry and Scott Bennett mounted one of our most substantive and rewarding mid-season conferences ever. Really. We had a strong turnout that included some brand new members and some potential members. The quality of it cemented the commitment of many our members and attracted notice of the possible converts as well as the theater professionals who participated.

If you weren’t there, don’t fret. As part of our initiative to increase professional development services to our members and give you something more for your dues, we paid a professional videographer to record the five major panels in their entirety. They will be posted in the next few weeks in our “member’s only” section. We will see how this works in deciding whether to experiment further with this. Your feedback will be appreciated.

Seeking volunteers for international meetings (respond ASAP)

ATCA is a key member of the International Association of Theatre Critics and its Executive Committee. You are all automatically members as well. We appoint delegates to its meetings and subsidize their travel expense to a degree; the bulk of their expenses overseas are paid for by the host committee or its country’s arts organizations.

We will be sending members to two such meetings in 2016, but we need to know very quickly who is interested in the first one. The ATCA Excom, in close consultation with its appointed chair of the International Committee, Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, will select who officially represents us and receives the subsidy – although any member can attend on their own dime. While there is obviously a tourism facet to the trip, these are working conferences that involve the organization’s business meetings and the presentation of scholarly papers. More information at http://www.aict-iatc.org/

First, the spring meeting of the AICT-IATC Excom will be hosted by the Craiova (Romania) Shakespeare Festival, which will be immediately followed by the Europe Prize event. The dates are essentially April 14-26. In an unusual move, the Craiova Festival will be assisting with travel expenses and reimbursing in euros at the Festival. In this way, ATCA will save on travel expenses. The paper topics for Craiova will center on the reception of Shakespeare considered locally, regionally, trans-globally, and universally. Please let Bill Hirschman know of your interest at muckrayk@aol.com by Dec. 11, and preferably earlier.

Second, the biennial World Congress will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, in late September in conjunction with the internationally renowned BITEF festival. In general, we send three ATCA members to a World Congress: 1) the AICT-IATC Excom member (International Committee Chair) which is currently Jeffrey; the ATCA ExCom chair as a delegate (Bill is likely going to pass the honor to someone else); and 3) another ATCA member who is suitable as an international delegate. (Each country is allowed two delegates in addition to any members of the IATC Excom.) Again, the sooner you let us know of your interest, the better.

The 2018 World Congress (it is held every other year) will be in Canada at Banff and Calgary, the first North American World Congress since Montreal in 2001.

New Plays nominations needed

As we near the end of the calendar year, Lou Harry is seeking recommendations for plays to be considered for the Steinberg/ATCA and Osborn awards. They must be written by American authors and have received their world premieres in a professional production during this calendar year. As always, please recommend only scripts for the Steinberg that you believe are competitively excellent. And it’s a playwriting award not a production award. Send at least the title to Lou at lharry@ibj.com, and if possible, cite the theater it played at, the running dates, and any contact information for the playwright or theater that you have.

Primus Prize

Barbara Bannon reports that we have six finalists chosen for the Primus and a news release will be out soon.

Philadelphia, Here I Come

Howie Shapiro is working hard with others to arrange a terrific annual conference in Philly, April 6-10, with the ExCom coming in a day early to tackle issues. A lot of details will be solidified in the coming weeks as we fine-tune the schedule. All will be passed on to you soon. For instance, more options of shows to see are being investigated. But we have a host hotel with reduced rates which you can contact: Marriott Courtyard on Juniper Street, across from City Hall, at $149 a night. Call (215) 496-3200 or toll-free (888) 887-8130.

The timing issue: After decades of putting on conferences, the Excom has learned there is absolutely no weekend that does not pose conflicts for numerous people. This time slot for the Philadelphia conference has been kicked around various parts of the calendar going back to before our West Virginia conference. There are a lot of moving parts including when the local theaters had major work to show us. Bottom line: We know and regret that this conflicts with the second industry weekend for Humana (although we will be represented by Lou Harry at the presentation of the new plays awards) and that it is challenging for New York critics at the tail end of the Tony eligibility season (but it’s a quick train ride).  

Recruiting an Elections Czar or Czarina

As the Excom continues to develop the procedures for electronic voting, we believe we need an elections administrator who would guide the process on a regular basis. If you are interested in serving, Bill Hirschman will be taking applications through the end of the year at muckrayk@aol.com.

Membership Directory

Anne Siegel, Barry Gaines and Robert Sokol have been working hard on this project and we hope to have the 2016-2017 ATCA Directory in your mailbox by the end of the year.

Speaking Out

The ExCom and the membership have striven in the past few years to ratchet up our participation in the national theatrical conversation, model what we agree are positive values, decry unprofessional behavior, increase our national profile as a force in our evolving profession, and influence the public perception of our profession.

To that end, the Excom and its officers have stepped up thoughtful but timely public responses to issues. In recent months, we have composed and disseminated news releases about our concerns about the Bitter Lemons pay-for-play controversy in Los Angeles and the Seattle writer who was selling his comp tickets on Craigslist. Our statements were quoted by other outlets, as we hoped, but just as gratifying were the emails from our members and non-members applauding these efforts.  Thanks to those who helped out on the quick turnarounds including Victor Gluck, Brad Hathaway, Lou Harry, Wendy Rosenfield, Bill Hirschman and Chris Rawson.

As issues arise that you believe we should address, please suggest them to the ExCom through Bill at muckrayk@aol.com.

Recruitment and marketing

Our long-planned effort to aggressively recruit new members and market the organization is gaining steam. Charles Giuliano and Martha Steketee will chair an ad hoc committee to plan such efforts for the coming year. Several of you have said in recent months that ATCA needs to creatively think about how to reach out to new groups of potential members, try new methods for outreach and better expand our national profile. This is where it will start. If you are interested in helping out, please email Bill, Charles or Martha.

Openings

We will have at least two vacancies on the Excom this spring: Erin Keane is leaving the board and Jonathan Abarbanel comes to the end of his term. Also, Bill Hirschman and Charles Guiliano will be running for second terms. If you have an interest in running for the Excom, start thinking about it and notify Bill or others on the Excom.

Trust us, there is a lot more going on out there, and we will be sending you updates through this holiday season. If you have questions or concerns about anything, contact Bill Hirschman at muckrayk@aol.com or (954) 478-1123.

Article originally appeared on American Theatre Critics Association (http://americantheatrecritics.org/).
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