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BWW Interview: Bob Bursey of TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS AND FUSEBOX FESTIVAL COLLABORATION

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​​​​​​​Texas Performing Arts And Fusebox Festival Collaboration.

BWW Interview: Bob Bursey of TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS AND FUSEBOX FESTIVAL COLLABORATIONThe year 2020 has proven to be full of unprecedented moments including the closing of live theater all over the world. It hasn't been easy for the performing arts industry to find a way to bring entertainment to the public that is craving it. However, the Texas Performing Arts (TPA) and Fusebox Festival are finding ways to bring entertainment to the Austin community. Bob Bursey was recently named Executive Director of the University of Texas Performing Arts and began his work in January shortly before the pandemic forced all productions and events to be postponed and canceled. But, Bursey, the Texas Performing Arts, and Fusebox Festival found a way to bring entertainment to those who are starving for a live theater performance. BWW Austin had a chance to ask Bob Bursey some questions about the upcoming collaboration.

The announcement of the Texas Performing Arts and Fusebox Festival collaboration is exciting. What brought about this collaboration?

Texas Performing Arts and Fusebox share a commitment to contemporary, adventurous artists. Independent artists have long faced significant challenges in finding resources to make new work, and that problem has gotten worse this year. Both TPA and Fusebox wanted to respond to that. The circumstances of the pandemic provide an opportunity for both organizations to do something different.

What's most challenging about bringing these productions to audiences during this unprecedented time?

TPA is known as a presenter of performances from around the world, and Fusebox presents an extraordinary festival once a year. For this program, we're working in a different way to support the creative process of the selected artists over time without a set outcome. We've set very few limits-each artist residency begins with the question "how can we help?" That amount of flexibility does create challenges for logistics and our technical teams-it requires a lot of conversation around the specifics of each project.

What kind of audience will be most interested in the chosen artists?

Folks who are interested in being part of a creative journey rather than seeing something only once its finished. People who are interested in answering the question 'what will the art of this time be?' Those who are up for the adventure of seeing something brand new. People who are curious how some of Austin's artists are holding up a mirror to this moment through their art.

The residency program is the first of its kind in Austin. Can you share a few highlights that you envision?

It's very, very rare for an artist to have dedicated time on stage to create a new project. Usually it's just a couple of days at the most. We're providing several weeks each in our rehearsal studios, shops, and stage. We view this as an artistic laboratory for creative research. UT is one of the leading research universities in the world. And through this program, we're extending that spirit of discovery and experimentation to live performance.

How did you go about choosing the artists to include and what made them stand out?

I just started in January, having moved with my family from New York. I wanted to work with others who had a deep knowledge of Austin's arts community, and that's really where Ron Berry and Anna Gallagher-Ross from the Fusebox Festival came in. They recommended artists whose work they've been following and are deeply invested in, and also who had projects in the works that could benefit from this kind of support.

What do you see happening in years to come with the production residency program with Texas Performing Arts Center and Fusebox Festival collaboration?

We hope to make this an annual program. There's a lot of great work happening in Austin and we would like to celebrate and resource that in the future. We hope to make it an open call for proposals next time.

Is there anything else you want to share?

This is a really devastating time for the performing arts-both for arts organizations and individual artists. This program makes use of the dark stages at TPA and puts resources directly in the hands of artists. When we can come back together in person, we want there to be exciting new performances to see. This program is about making that happen.

To find out more, go to the Texas Performing Arts website. Learn more about each of the performers chosen for this pioneering program between Texas Performing Arts and Fusebox Festivals.



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From This Author Kathy Strain