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Theatre Communications Group awards Cleveland Public Theatre Audience (R)Evolution Travel Grant

by Caitlin Lewins
April 4, 2017
Cleveland Public Theatre
Gordon Square Theater
6415 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 631-2727
Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) has been awarded a Theatre Communications Group Audience (R)Evolution Travel Grant for Executive Artistic Director, Raymond Bobgan, and Director of Community Ensembles, Faye Hargate, to meet with artistic leaders across the country who are currently engaged with Arab-American and Middle Eastern populations to gather best practices for developing work for and with these communities. Theatre Communications Group (TCG), is the national service organization for professional theatres in the United States. Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF), Audience (R)Evolution is a nationally recognized program that includes travel grants to sixteen teams of TCG Member Theatre staff and community stakeholders to observe effective audience engagement programs and strategies to deepen relationships with communities they serve.

This experience will help CPT adapt its current, successful model of artistic engagement with local Latino artists (Teatro Publico de Cleveland) with the goal of establishing a local ensemble of Arab-Americans and Middle Eastern artists who will create and perform at Cleveland Public Theatre.

As part of the Audience (R)Evolution Travel Grant, CPT will be hosting visitors from Trinity Repertory Company, another awardee, who will be learning about the formation and growth of Teatro Publico de Cleveland.

Cleveland Public Theatre’s Plans for Travel
Each of the theatres and leaders Cleveland Public Theatre has selected are closely tied with cultural engagement within Arab-American and Middle Eastern communities. While some theatres boast initiatives to connect international artists with local leaders, others engage their local Arab-American/Middle Eastern populations to enhance the cultural richness of their mainstage performances. It is CPT’s intention to gather best practices from these leaders by studying a variety of cultural engagement models.

Raymond and Faye will connect with Handan Ozbilgin, Assistant Artistic Director of LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in New York City, Malik Gillani and Jamil Khoury, co-founders of the Silk Road Theatre Project in Chicago and Torange Yeghiazarian, Executive Director of Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco. CPT seeks to form an Arab-American ensemble in order to engage our rapidly growing Arab population in Cuyahoga County.

About Cleveland’s Arab-American Population

The Cleveland theatre community is predominantly African and European American and does not fully represent the diversity and cultural richness of Northeast Ohio. One of the fastest growing Arab populations in the US, Ohio ranks eighth in the country by population of Arab-Americans. The largest contingency lives in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, with a majority from Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. Over 20,000 Muslims live in this County – nearly half the number of Ohio's total Muslim population.

About TCG’s Audience (R)Evolution Travel Grants

“From connecting with Deaf and Latinx audiences, from reaching Middle Eastern and Muslim communities to refugees and those in addiction recovery, these Audience (R)Evolution grantees are bridging differences in a time of division,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG. “Thanks to our long-standing partnership with DDCF, these Travel Grants will empower the peer-driven exchange of innovative audience-engagement models that build community and dialogue.”

Raymond and Faye also attended two Audience (R)Evolution national learning convenings at which Raymond was a national presenter related to CPT’s Teatro Publico de Cleveland program. TPC is a national model for community engagement – often cited as an example of reciprocal community based engagement and cross-culturally collaborative theatre making.

Audience (R)Evolution has distributed over $2,000,000 in grants to 40 projects in 20 states across the country and supports risk-taking, reflection, experimentation and collective action toward implementing new strategies that will help theatres sustain and grow attendance and demand. “TCG’s Audience (R)Evolution Travel Grants give practitioners the rare chance to step out of their own theatre and right into the physical space of their peers to learn firsthand the different ways they are working and connecting with audiences, both in the U.S. and abroad,” said Maurine Knighton, DDCF’s program director for the Arts. “There is no better way to garner such high-quality knowledge than through these on-site, real-life conversations. The tools and ideas that the participating theatres exchange will ultimately support the field at large by enriching the theatre-going experiences of audiences nationwide.”

This second cycle of the Audience (R)Evolution Travel Grants awarded $114,470 in total funds to organizations including Cleveland Play House, Golden Thread Productions, Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Trinity Repertory Company and several others.

About the TCG & DDCF

For over 50 years, TCG, the national organization for U.S. theatre, has existed to strengthen, nurture and promote the professional not-for-profit theatre. TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to nearly 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 11,000 individuals nationwide. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through conferences, events, research and communications; awards grants, approximately $2 million per year, to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute, connecting its constituents to the global theatre community. TCG is North America’s largest independent publisher of dramatic literature, with 14 Pulitzer Prizes for Best Play on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre. www.tcg.org.

DDCF’s mission is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Arts Program of DDCF focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.

For more information about Cleveland Public Theatre’s Audience (R)Evolution Travel Grant, contact Caitlin Lewins, Interim Director of Audience Engagement and Media Relations at (216) 631-2727 ext. 211 or email clewins@cptonline.org.
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