Chair’s ‘State of ATCA’ report

Chair’s ‘State of ATCA’ report

In its 40th year, ATCA is financially stable and looking to reach out to new critics. New officers elected, new programs planned, new thinking at Foundation ATCA. This fall, New York; next year, New Orleans; the year after, Moscow … uh, Philadelphia.

Just over 80 ATCA members and guests gathered in Louisville April 1-6 for our 37th Annual Conference, then headed home after stimulating membership discussions and the varied theatrical fare of the Humana Festival. There is a great deal of news to report which may be divided between immediate matters and strategic matters.

1. The Association is in solid fiscal health with approx. $33,000 in cash and CD’s. Our 2014 budget is $18,130 vs. estimated income of $17,500. This does not include Annual Conference income/expenses. The Louisville Conference will show a modest surplus more than sufficient to offset a slight budget deficit.

2. The Big Easy or Crescent City or NOLA … whatever you call it, New Orleans will be the site of our 2015 Annual Conference, March 25-29, in conjunction with the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival. ATCA member Alan Smason is conference chair. But wait, there’s more! Philadelphia will be the site of our 2016 Annual Conference, with Howard Shapiro serving as chair. This is the first time in recent years that ATCA has returned to its former happy position of being able to plan the Annual Conference two years ahead.

3. A New York Mini-Meeting has been scheduled for November 7-9, to be organized once again by Ira Bilowit and Sherry Eaker.

4. A new critic-to-critic Mentoring Program was introduced, created by our Professional Development committee. This voluntary program offers ATCA members the opportunity to provide constructive feedback on the work of another member, or to receive such feedback themselves by submitting up to three reviews for consultation. The ATCA Administrator will link mentors and mentees, and the process can be anonymous if so desired. Details will appear shortly.

5. Brad Hathaway and Edward Rubin cycled off the ExCom after two terms each of estimable service and Lou Harry (Indianapolis) and Erin Keane (Louisville) were elected to succeed them. Wendy Rosenfield was elected to a second three-year term. The ExCom elected Jonathan Abarbanel to serve a second year as Chair, with Tim Treanor as Vice-Chair.

6. ATCA celebrated its 40th anniversary (although it was only our 37th Annual Conference) with a big cake, served up in the lobby of the Actors Theatre of Louisville on Saturday night. In his wisdom, your ATCA Chair made an executive decision that the cake would be chocolate.

Perhaps more important were strategic discussions which will shape the future of our Association and of its Foundation. A process was launched to re-examine membership categories and requirements in order to make ATCA more appealing to new critics and to academic critics/scholars. The possibility of select affiliate members (undefined) who are not working reviewers (also undefined) was discussed. Having understood the sense of the membership, the ExCom will formulate proposals for revision of our bylaws for the development of new programs and methods through several of our standing committees. We expect to have proposals for general membership approval by the New York Mini-Meeting.

Foundation President Jay Handelman led the Foundation board through a facilitated review of the Foundation’s mission and vision. That review remains in process but almost certainly will lead to new, possibly more generous thinking (undefined) about how and when the Foundation makes grants. Jay will report directly as he feels appropriate. Foundation funds stood at $200,653 as of April 2. At the Annual Conference, we passed the hat (twice) for the Foundation, as we always do, and took in $1,201 in cash/check donations, perhaps an all-time conference record.

With my very best regards,
Jonathan Abarbanel, Chair

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