Last night, I had the pleasure of hosting a "Community Engagement Roundtable" - a temperature gauge for the work Dallas theaters are doing in the area of community engagement. It was a casual gathering with representatives from six other local theaters - Leah Harris from Dallas Theater Center, Jenni Stewart from Shakespeare Dallas, Parker Gray from Undermain, Drew Wall from Second Thought, Adam Adolfo from Bishop Arts Theatre Center, and Sid Curtis from Theatre 3 - which we used to discuss successes and challenges with each of our institutions' current community engagement programming.
I personally learned a lot from this roundtable, and was grateful for the opportunity to share a space and fellowship with some of the city's most brilliant arts leaders and administrators. We discussed various topics including the importance of authentic relationship making, budget disparity, and the distinction between marketing and community engagement, as well as troubleshooting each others' questions in regards to their own programming, and community engagement as a whole.
I felt it was important to host this roundtable for several reasons. One, because it is amazing that in this incredibly social, collaborative industry, we can be so isolated from each other. A lot of the feedback I got from last night's roundtable had to do with simply being validated and realizing others are experiencing similar challenges - how wonderful to feel a part of a much larger community (especially in community engagement work).
This meeting also felt important because despite each Dallas theater's different aesthetic, budget, and schedule, I think we do have shared goals - keeping theatre alive, making theatre accessible, and using our art to benefit the whole in some way. I look forward to having more of these discussions, and was grateful for the honesty, generosity, and dialogue this roundtable allowed.