As my time at the NCTC Producing Gathering comes to an end, I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this conference. With session topics ranging from marketing strategies, to assessing the realities of diversity and inclusion in theater arts, there was no shortage of great ideas. As an undergraduate student, I came to the NCTC Producing Gathering with the expectation that I would learn more about the theater profession, and the type of work it takes to make art a reality. But more than that, over the past two days I have also learned a great deal about myself as a young professional, and what action steps I can be taking now both within the arts world and beyond.
One of the highlights of Ben Cameron’s opening address was his remark that an organization’s core values are more important than the mission statement. This idea inspired the discussion of the first session that I attended, “Prioritizing Values Over Mission”. The major takeaway for me during this conversation was that while the mission statement might define what you do, it should not be the single guiding force of an organization’s work. In truth, it is the core values that spark people’s passion and motivation towards the work that needs to be done. Core values show who you are, why you care, and determine what needs to be done. For me, this concept is true for both my professional and personal life. It’s not just what you do; it’s how, and why.
Moving into the second day of the Producing Gathering, there was a lot of focus on community. In a morning session, “Assessing Where We Are Now: Diversity & Inclusion”, participants shared personal stories from past successes and shortcomings of bridging various sociocultural divides in our communities. While ultimately there were many ideas on how to attract audiences, diversify casting, and create accessible productions, it was realized that the first and arguably most important step we all need to be making towards these professional goals is in our personal lives. It is impossible to authentically and effectively meet articulated goals of inclusivity unless we make the effort to personally build relationships and engage in communities beyond those that we comfortably interact with in our everyday lives. This session really inspired me to break out of my daily routines, and actively seek activities that allow me to build relationships across cultural boundaries.
Overall, my experience at the NCTC Producing Gathering was incredibly worthwhile. I made connections with theater and arts professionals from all over the state, learned more about my field, and gained valuable insights on my role as a young professional in the arts. Many thanks to Triad Stage and the NCTC staff for making this opportunity possible!
– Alyx Bean, Triad Stage Summer 2017 Opportunity Greensboro Fellow