American Theatre Wings reception for National Theatre Company Grants recipients. These heads/directors of these companies come from around the country, from Albuquerque to Buffalo, for a day of knowledge sharing and a reception. Photographed on October 30, 2017, at the Viacom Building. Photo Credit: Stephanie Berger.

On Monday, October 30th at Viacom, twelve regional theatre companies were awarded the 2017 National Theatre Company Grant. This year’s nine Initial Support recipients are: Blackout Theatre Company (Albuquerque, NM), Chicago Children’s Theatre (Chicago, IL), Forward Theater Company (Madison, WI), Jewel Theatre Company (Santa Cruz, CA), Road Less Traveled Productions (Buffalo, NY), Short North Stage (Columbus, OH), The Millibo Art Theatre (Colorado Springs, CO), The Playwrights Realm (New York, NY), and Theatre Horizon (Norristown, PA). The Second-Time Support grant recipients are the following three companies: Ars Nova (New York, NY), Congo Square Theatre Company (Chicago, IL), and The NOLA Project (New Orleans, LA).


Hear a little about each theatre below. Thank you to all who attended the reception. All photos by Stephanie Berger.

Chicago Children’s Theatre (Chicago, Illinois): I believe this is the first time a children’s theatre company has won this award, so I’d like to thank you very much for honoring the work that we’re doing for children, and we believe that there’s nothing more important than bringing our young people to see great theatre, great great theatre at Chicago Children’s Theatre.


Theatre Horizon (Norristown, Pennsylvania): This has been an incredible day, to share the day with such amazing colleagues from across the country, and to learn and be able to help, and actually add to the conversation myself was wonderful, and that this award exists to honor theatre that’s in communities across America is incredible to me.


The Playwright’s Realm (New York, New York): I founded The Playwright’s Realm to help support and nurture the next generation of early-career playwrights, and I think that they can really help shape the culture that we live in, the conversations that we’re having, and the minds of the next generation. And I think that that has never seemed so important as it does to me right now, but right now I feel very nurtured by all of you, so you are giving me more energy to go out and do my job tomorrow in nurturing the amazing people that I’m lucky to get to devote my energies to.


ARS NOVA (New York, New York): We did two crazy things this year that we were really counting on supporters to renew and increase their gifts and believe in, and the American Theatre Wing was actually the first organization that was like “yep, we’re gonna re-up, we’re behind that.” And it gave us the opportunity to go to other people and ask them to do the same thing, and those two crazy things were KPop, which Max was one of the composers of, which was far and away the largest show in our history. And the other thing we did at the same time is launch our fair pay initiative.


NOLA Project (New Orleans, Louisiana): I just want to encourage any of you guys that are here in the room that if you are a person of means that supports the theatre, please know how desperately we need it right now, you know, desperately, and your patronage is so appreciated and so needed, and I just hope that we can keep theatre accessible. If theatre becomes too expensive and too elitist, then we’re nothing, we can’t make the changes that we want to make, we have to keep it accessible.


The Jewel Theatre Company (Santa Cruz, California): I applied for the American Theatre Wing grant because I knew we had something to crow about at Jewel Theatre Company. Over our now 13 years we’ve had amazing artists creating amazing theatre for our amazing audience, who have enthusiastically supported and encouraged our efforts year in and year out.


Millibo Art Theatre (Colorado Springs, Colorado): American Theatre Wing invited us out to this community, and it feels wonderful, it feels like someone said “thank you for the work you’re doing,” and they put their arms around us and they welcomed us here. Thank you all for being here to celebrate this and all of us, and you are a part of this too, all of us believing in theatre in this community, this huge community of our world, and it can make a huge difference.


Congo Square Theatre Company (Chicago, Illinois): The things that we do alike are more important than the things that we do differently, and art is what we do collectively. And so we are sisters and brothers in this fight, because the first is for all of us guys, we have to find a way to make art make a difference in this country, and we’re not gonna get there looking at our differences. So I urge everyone to look around this room, and when we’re doing this art, whether it’s on Broadway, whether it’s in a basement, look in those faces, we are the people who will make the difference, and the change starts with us.


Forward Theatre Company (Madison, Wisconsin): I really want to thank our founders, who believe that Madison, Wisconsin, the capital of our state and home to a prominent research organization, deserved professional theatre. And we were founded to fill that role, and wanted to be a home base for professional theatre artists there. We really wanted to be created by and for our community, and everything we do makes that possible.


The Short North Stage (Columbus, Ohio): Regional theatre is on the rise, as is seen by the many shows on Broadway right now that came from regional theatres, and we are so proud to be a part of that, and a part of the community.


The Road Less Traveled Productions (Buffalo, New York): I think it’s more important than ever, and I truly mean that right now, that we’re doing the kinds of work that I think all these folks in the Hinterlands are doing. It’s important because we’re part of the fabric of keeping those community conversations alive, about important issues, about important topics, things that keep us human, and also maybe bring to light some things that people don’t necessarily want to talk about.


Blackout Theatre Company (Albuquerque, New Mexico):It’s incredibly important to us that we keep theatre relevant and accessible to our community. It’s incredibly important to us that a spotlight has been shone on New Mexican theatre, which oftentimes doesn’t get a lot of national recognition. So, we are incredibly grateful for this, we are excited to be here with all of these other amazing theatre companies.