WAM Theatre Announces Summit for Aspiring Women Theatre Leaders

By: Oct. 31, 2016
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WAM Theatre is excited to announce they will be hosting the first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit - an event for women aspiring to leadership positions in the non-profit theatre in both artistic and operational tracks - in October of 2017.

In August 2016, the results of research on why there is a gender imbalance in leadership of non-profit regional theater were presented by Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) at the Women's Leadership Conference in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater. WAM Theatre Artistic Director, Kristen van Ginhoven, was an early supporter of the study and attended the conference. The HowlRound blogpost about the study can be found at: http://howlround.com/women-s-leadership-research-results-and-recommendations

Inspired by that conference, the idea was born to create The Berkshire Leadership Summit to continue the work of shifting consciousness and perception around women and leadership in the non-profit theatre world. This first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit is informed and supported by the research that American Conservatory Theater commissioned from the Wellesley Centers for Women.

This inaugural two-day, in person, pilot Summit in October 2017 will provide deep dive, nuts and bolts sessions into four areas that female theater professionals identified as main barriers to leadership positions: Fundraising, Producing, Building Relationships, and Building Awareness/Creating Opportunity.

The Summit has three central aims: providing participants with an experience that grows their network of allies, enriching vocabulary that supports the current industry while advocating for their future as women leaders, and expanding concrete skills to apply on their path to leadership.

The Summit will also offer shorter working sessions around other areas identified in the study and at the conference as barriers to leadership including:

  • Interviewing: exploring the vocabulary of the current world

  • Search firm process: advocating for your future

  • Reading a financial report/balance sheet

  • Building relationships/Working effectively with your board

  • Strategic Planning

  • Defending your artistic choices

  • Intersectionality- including it in the room

  • Where is the feminine in leadership?

  • Who is your coalition?

  • What is the financial impact of women's leadership?

  • What do you bring into the room that distinguishes you as a leader?

The Summit acknowledges gender discrimination is a complex topic. As a first step, this inaugural Summit is targeted to people who navigate the field as women (eg. transgender, cisgender, gender non-conforming) in early to mid-career who are theatre professionals on the path to leadership.

Additional details on this first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit will be announced by WAM Theatre in the coming months and will be available at:



WAM Theatre is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; and by the Massachusetts Cultural Council Cultural. Our 2016 sponsors include the Adams Community Bank, Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Magazine, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, Blue Q, Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Canyon Ranch, Custom Business Solution, Dylandale Foundation, Feigenbaum Foundation, Garden Gables, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido's Fresh Marketplace, International Schools Theatre Association, Interprint, Dr. Jay Wise, DDS & Dr. Casey Jones, DMD, Jon Gotterer DMD, Keator Group, LLC, Lee Bank, Lenox Education Enrichment Fund, Massachusetts Cultural Council, MAXYMILLIAN Technologies, Michele's Salon + Day Spa, Nina Molin MD, No. Six Depot Roastery and Café, Petricca Industries, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, RB Design Co., The Rookwood Inn, Rouge Restaurant & Bistro, Toole Insurance, A. von Schlegell & Co., The Sherman Investment Group-RBC Wealth Management, and Zabian's Fine Jewelers.

WAM Theatre is also supported in part by grants from the Lenox, Alford-Egremont, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Cultural Council of Northern Berkshires , Washington Cultural Council, Monterey Cultural Council, Stockbridge Cultural Council, West Stockbridge Cultural Council, Richmond Cultural Council - local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, WAM Theatre is Where Arts and Activism Meet. The company was co-founded in 2010 by Canadian director, actor, educator, and producer Kristen van Ginhoven. WAM's vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through the mission of theatre as philanthropy.

Inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from its theatrical events to organizations that benefit women and girls.

Since 2010 years, WAM Theatre has donated more than $30,000 to twelve nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 175 theatre artists. In addition to the main stage productions and special events, WAM Theatre's activities include a comprehensive educational outreach program and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. For more information, visit www.WAMTheatre.com


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