WAM Theatre Thrilled by Recent Grants and Nominations

By: Sep. 12, 2016
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The summer has been exciting for the team at WAM Theatre as the seven year-old Berkshire-based theatre company has received three substantial competitive grants, been honored by the National Philanthropy Day Committee, been nominated for a Berkshire Trendsetter Award and a Nonprofit Awareness Day Excellence Award and WAM's Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven was recently invited to attend the Women's Leadership Conference in San Francisco.

"Excellence comes in all shapes and sizes. This is what I was told when I received the call informing me that WAM Theatre was awarded the Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation award from the National Philanthropy Day Committee. What a wonderful acknowledgement of our work!" exclaimed van Ginhoven. "WAM has been the lucky recipient of an incredible number of awards and accolades this year. We feel lucky that our double philanthropic mission has received such esteemed recognition. As a young, fast growing company, we are incredibly grateful for these votes of confidence in our work and look forward to our continued impact into the future."

Rehearsals are underway for WAM's co-production with the Berkshire Theatre Group of The Bakelite Masterpiece by Kate Cayley, directed by van Ginhoven and featuring regional favorites David Adkins and Corinna May, which opens at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge on October 1 and runs through October 23. In keeping with their double philanthropic mission, WAM Theatre will be donating 25% of the box office proceeds from this production to their ninth beneficiary, the Berkshire Immigrant Center and Suzi Banks Baum. Call the BTG box office at 413-997-4444 for tickets, or visit www.wamtheatre.com/the-bakelite-masterpiece for more information.

Recent Grants

Massachusetts Cultural Council Cultural Investment Portfolio Gateway (CIP) Grant - $3,000

The Gateway Program is a highly competitive grant program which provides two years of unrestricted operating support and is the prerequisite to move into the Cultural Investment Portfolio. Only 17 groups received the Gateway Grant this cycle, and only two from the Berkshires - WAM Theatre and The Edith Wharton Restoration at the Mount.

Mass Humanities Project Grant- $5,000

WAM received a grant from Mass Humanities to support the educational outreach project for The Bakelite Masterpiece.

The project will promote critical, reasoned and open-minded discussions of the basic values around truth and reconciliation that are at stake both in the play and in our world today. The project will include a lobby display, notes in the program including suggestions for further reading, a subsidized ticket program and a comprehensive post show conversation series with the playwright and other notable humanities scholars.

Berkshire Bank Foundation, Inc. - $3,000 grant in support of the WAM Theatre Girls Ensemble program

For the third year in a row, Berkshire Bank has awarded WAM Theatre a grant. This year, the grant supports WAM's unique Girls Ensemble Program.

The Girls Ensemble draw from schools and groups across the Berkshire region. The selection process is by audition. The selected participants, aged between 14-19, form an ensemble and use a devised theatre process to create their own original piece of theatre.

The inaugural cohort successfully created and toured Miss Labeled in fall 2015. The second cohort auditions will be in December, with rehearsals beginning in January 2017.

Awards & Nominations

Named Outstanding Philanthropy Corporation of the Year by the Western MA Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals

This award recognizes WAM for demonstrating outstanding commitment through financial support and through encouragement and motivation of others to take leadership roles toward philanthropy and community involvement.

The National Philanthropy Day Committee received applications from organizations that donate far more funds than WAM, but they were very impressed with how many WAM Team Members and supporters were working so hard to consistently donate money to organizations that benefit women and girls, in addition to creating high quality theatre, and by WAM's unique approach to engaging the community in its philanthropic efforts.

The award ceremony will be held during a luncheon on Wednesday, November 16th at The Log Cabin in Holyoke, MA.

Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven Nominated by 1Berkshire a 2016 Berkshire Trendsetter Award as Entrepreneur/Visionary of the Year

"These awards are our way of recognizing individuals and organizations whose outstanding achievements and commitment have strengthened our economy and helped the Berkshires grow." 1Berkshire

Winners will be announced at Tanglewood on Thursday, September 15th at 1Berkshire's "Celebrate the Berkshires" event.

Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven attends Women's Leadership Conference in San Francisco

Wellesley Centers for Women partnered with American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in 2013 to launch a research study into gender equity in leadership opportunities in the nonprofit American theater. On August 22, 2016, the results of this study were presented to an invited audience, including van Ginhoven, at the Women's Leadership Conference in San Francisco, CA.

While the Berkshires is well represented in women's leadership in the theatre, the study has already provoked a wealth of dialogue on the national lack of parity in theater leadership. An article summarizing the report can be found here: howlround.com/why-are-there-so-few-women-leading-theatres-and-what-can-be-done-about-it.

As a result of attending the conference, WAM is in dialogue with other attendees about hosting a Berkshire Leadership Summit for aspiring women leaders in the non-profit theatre in Fall 2017.

WAM Theatre Nominated for Excellence by a Small Nonprofit at the Nonprofit Awareness Day and Excellence Awards Ceremony in Boston

WAM representatives were honored to attend the June 27 Nonprofit Excellence Awards with fellow Berkshire nominees: Nicole Eigbrett, Community Outreach Director at Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, and Gwendolyn Hampton-VanSant, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Multicultural BRIDGE. A record number of nominations were received this year, and it is hoped that an even greater number of Berkshire nonprofits will be finalists in 2017.

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.

Over the past six years, WAM Theatre has donated more than $21,000 to eight 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.