Commentary: American theatermakers should travel abroad more often

TCG Executive Director Teresa Eyring, May 2013 issue of American Theatre magazine

Travel budgets are scarce. Time is scarce. And, in truth, most theatre practitioners in the U.S. rarely have the resources to visit each other's shops, let alone fly off to Budapest or Seoul to get to know the challenges and triumphs of theatre in those communities. Recent studies, including one conducted by the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, show that funding for international engagement is, in general, lacking. One of the few international travel grant programs for the field is housed right here at TCG: We are fortunate to partner with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Global Connections, a program that connects theatre practitioners across borders for knowledge exchange and the development of new projects. We receive hundreds of proposals for this program every year. Theatremakers often find that there is nothing more mind-expanding than the opportunity to explore other cultures and practices through global travel and artistic exchange. It's true as well that, with a relatively small investment of travel funds, the experiential payoff can be big. TCG has hosted delegations to Colombia, China, Cuba, Spain and Sudan. Out of those trips, friendships and collaborations have sprung up among the U.S. delegates, and new cross-border projects have emerged, sometimes getting underway years after the initial visit. Citizens of those countries have come to see the U.S. in a new light. In a world where the impressions of the U.S. are largely controlled by mass media, the power of citizen-to-citizen exchange through theatre grows ever more powerful.


FROM TC: The May 2013 issue of American Theatre magazine also features a special section, "Moving Forces," that "views global developments through the eyes of American theatrical ambassadors and visionary U.S. companies." Click on the links below to read more:


The Scottish Connection by Mark Cofta

A theater in a Philadelphia suburb partners with National Theatre of Scotland

Rose Oil and Apples by Nicole Estvanik Taylor

Bulgarian theatremakers and Shakespeare & Company bond over Chekhov and the Bard

Sisters Under the Skin by Nirmala Nataraj

The Post Natyam collective is prone to borrow, steal, translate and blog across cultures

Philip Arnoult: A Nose and 3 Moves by Robert Avila

The inimitable instigator of global conversations and journeys beyond the world's capitals

Cynthia Cohen: First, Peace by Simi Horwitz

Her strategies for defusing conflicts converge at the nexus of art and justice

Allen Nause: Inveterate Traveler by Barry Johnson

Oregon-based director takes his cue from audiences around the globe

Meiyin Wang: The Next Big Thing by Eliza Bent

Under the Radar's co-curator has more questions than answers

A Climate of Collaboration by Chantal Bilodeau

Environmental scientists urge artists to humanize the stories behind the research

Bipolar Politics and the Unruly Arts by Jim O'Quinn

International visitors plunge into Hungary's roiling zeitgeist


Commentary: Residency project, audio magazine bring U.S. artists closer to China

An Xiao,, 5/7/13

As interest in China grows, so does interest in its art scene. And while I've met countless artists in the US who wanted to travel to China, the barriers remain high, due to language, culture, and cost. Last year, I wrote about residencies in China that are worth considering, but there are dozens more. China Residencies, a new nonprofit started by Crystal Ruth Bell and Kira Simon-Kennedy, aims to help Western artists navigate the wide range of opportunities. "We think there are between 30 and 50 programs active right now," [said] Simon-Kennedy. "Crystal started meeting with residency admins in 2010 to talk about the unique challenges of existing in China: residencies relied almost entirely on word-of-mouth to attract applicants, and sometimes had a difficult time filling spots with qualified artists. The lack of visibility also limited the amount of funding visiting artists and programs could receive," she said. Their directory currently lists 22 residencies, most of which are in Beijing, and they plan to add additional resources such as residency reviews and practical resources for China travelers. They'll also be sharing their knowledge with existing projects like ResArtis and Residency Unlimited, who are supporting their work. Can't travel to China just yet? I was contacted by Beijing artist Ma Yongfeng about a new audio magazine he's been producing with Hyperallergic contributor Alessandro Rolandi and arts writer Edward Sanderson. UNCUT TALKS is a platform that "collects, and makes available for everyone to listen to, hours of conversations among interesting people in China and around the world on some of the most challenging and provocative topics of our time." So far, the magazine includes some 30 interviews, with a wide variety of individuals from China's art scene, conducted in both Chinese and English. Although translations are not yet available for the Chinese audio, the channel is a great way to bring some of the aesthetics and intimacy of audio recordings to an art world community that can seem dense and complex to outsiders. I'm excited about both projects and look forward to seeing how they move forward. Art fosters unique forms of dialogue that only seem more and more important given China's increase presence on the world stage.


= = =


Exhibition shows how CIA secretly sent U.S. arts abroad during the Cold War

Lauren Ross, May 2013 issue of The Art Newspaper

The Central Intelligence Agency secretly sent American art and music abroad in the 1950s and 1960s as part of a propaganda campaign to assert American cultural dominance in the Cold War era. The first chief of the CIA division spearheading that campaign stated why the operation had to be clandestine: "It was very difficult to get Congress to go along with some of the things we wanted to do -- send art abroad... In order to encourage openness we had to be secret." Their certainty of government disapproval was based on experience. In 1946, the US State Department assembled an art collection with the intention of touring it internationally to demonstrate the freedoms America allowed its artists. But a media-fuelled outcry over the use of taxpayers' money to fund the programme led to political backpedalling. Hastily, the art was recalled from overseas and the organising curator fired. The most thorough recreation to date of that doomed project can be seen in "Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy", a travelling exhibition jointly organised by three university museums. The exhibition and its catalogue offer a thorough examination of a moment in American history when politics and culture -- as well as professional expertise and populist taste -- clashed, a phenomenon that feels all-too-familiar. So many of the issues examined by this tale of American history are familiar, it is nearly impossible to avoid drawing parallels with the years since. The US has experienced numerous incidents in which conservative politicians and pundits have targeted art as an unworthy recipient of publicly-funded support.

"Art Interrupted" can be seen next at the Indiana University Art Museum Sept 13-Dec 15, 2013 and at the Georgia Museum of Art (University of Georgia) Jan 25-April 20 2014.

Please consider the environment before printing out this email.  Thanks.
YOU'VE COTT MAIL is a free service for professionals in the arts.  Emails are sent most weekdays. 
If you are not already on the distribution list and would like to sign up, please click here:

Join Our Mailing List      Follow me on Twitter     
Click here to view an archive of recent past editions of "You've Cott Mail."