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Second Cohort Of BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle Grant Announced

BOLD has had members promoted to major theater leadership positions and has developed over 60 new works by women.

Northern Stage has announced the 2021 recipients of the BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle grant, which marks its fourth year with two new inductees into its unprecedented $3.5 million grant funded by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation to support and promote women+ artistic directors and their associates in professional theaters across the United States.

Nataki Garrett, Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR), and Maria Manuela Goyanes, Artistic Director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington, DC), have each been awarded $250,000 a year for two years, and join the circle's previously-announced cohort of recipients: Susan V. Booth of Alliance Theatre (Atlanta, GA), Eileen J. Morris of The Ensemble Theatre (Houston, TX), Sarah Rasmussen of the McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ; formerly of the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis, MN), Christina Baldwin of the Jungle Theater (Minneapolis, MN), Lisa McNulty of WP Theater (New York, NY), and BOLD founder Carol Dunne of Northern Stage (White River Junction, VT).

Goyanes, the first woman of color to run a major DC theater, joined Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company as Artistic Director in 2018 after serving as Director of Producing and Artistic Planning at The Public Theater. She is shepherding Woolly to become an equitable, progressive, and inclusive cultural beacon, with her inaugural season featuring plays written solely by females or BIPOC playwrights, and with the majority of those plays directed by women. Garrett served as the acting Artistic Director for Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company (DCPA) during the $66 million organization's 18-month leadership transition, and has made a name for herself by fostering, directing and producing new artists and works, as well as adaptations of classics.

Garrett takes the helm of Oregon Shakespeare Festival as the first African American Artistic Director in the theater's eighty-five-year history. Both women have faced unprecedented trials early in their tenures with the COVID pandemic, social injustice movements, and, in Garrett's case, wildfires, and are primed to meet these challenges from their own bold and progressive perspectives.

Led by Northern Stage's Producing Artistic Director Carol Dunne, the BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle is a visionary initiative created to bridge career gaps for women artists in the American theater. A 2016 study by Wellesley Centers for Women - commissioned by American Conservatory Theater Artistic Director Carey Perloff and former Executive Director Ellen Richard - revealed that women hold only 17% of artistic leadership positions in the American regional theater, and that the dearth of female theater leaders is not due to a lack of candidates but rather to a clearly observed glass ceiling preventing women from assuming the artistic helm of professional theaters. The BOLD Circle creates a network of women artistic directors - selected every three years in an open application process - and empowers them to address the issues preventing women from advancing in theater leadership.

The BOLD Circle offers major support of artistic initiatives focused on women artists and creates a formal mentorship program to train and prepare future women artistic directors to lead, to create, to innovate, and to enhance the impact of theater across America. The Circle's major funding for the mentorship of women directors and producers supports artists at every level: Gurley Brown Fellows join theaters directly out of college, while artists further along in their careers join as BOLD Associate Directors and Producers. Fellows and associates that entered the BOLD Circle in the past year include Rebecca Martinez (BOLD Associate Artistic Director, WP Theater), Nidia Medina (BOLD Special Projects Producer, WP Theater), Nicole A. Watson (BOLD Associate Artistic Director, McCarter Theatre Center), Kerrigan Quenemoen (BOLD Artistic Fellow, Northern Stage), Emma Orme (BOLD Producing Associate, Northern Stage), Skylar Burks (BOLD Producing Associate, Alliance Theatre), Michelle Elaine Ogletree (BOLD Artistic Fellow, The Ensemble Theatre), Krystal Uchem (BOLD Production Fellow-Production Manager, The Ensemble Theatre), and Alison Ruth (BOLD Artistic & Advancement Associate, The Jungle Theater).

In the three years since BOLD's establishment in 2017 by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation (in the spirit of longtime Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown and renowned filmmaker David Brown), five BOLD members have been promoted to major theater leadership positions, over 60 new works by women have been developed, and five new musicals by women are currently in development.

"Our story proves that when women who have achieved major leadership in predominantly male fields are given the support and tools necessary to focus on mentoring the next generation, they are a powerful force for systemic change," said Carol Dunne. "Our artistic directors' hard-won experience provides leadership training that cannot be learned in any school. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the women who have been supported by our program are more than ready to meet the myriad challenges that face the theater industry. We are committed to creating equitable and artistically inspiring theater that answers the call to make the world a better place."


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