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BWW Interview: Anne Kogan Brings a New Kind of Entertainment Company to Life with THE GENERATORS

The Generators is a new kind of arts and entertainment firm that brings community-focused programming to the world

BWW Interview: Anne Kogan Brings a New Kind of Entertainment Company to Life with THE GENERATORS

As theatre and the performing arts has been shuttered since the start of the pandemic, theaters have largely closed to stay safe, or done what they could to provide virtual shows. Necessity being the mother of invention, an all-star group of women (whose CVs would blow your mind) have come together during this time to form The Generators: a full-service arts and entertainment firm, providing both state of the art community-focused programming and consulting expertise. I had the opportunity to speak with Anne Kogan, founding member of The Generators to discuss this new and exciting - and much needed - venture.

Before we dive into the mission of The Generators, tell me a little about your background.

I grew up in Chicago where I was lucky enough to be able to experience every kind of art and culture that you can think of. This diversity of culture and art really influenced the things I value, and I ended up going to school to study ethnic musicology. After realizing I didn't want to be in academia, I lived in Brazil for six months, and when I returned, I started volunteering with the department of cultural affairs. I finally felt like my dreams were coming true, and that everything was being woven together so seamlessly.

I moved on to work on the folk and traditional arts festival in DC, a project that really focused on representing the fabric of the people of America. We took these festivals on the road and not only did it become the cultural event of the year for some towns, it had a measurable positive economic impact on those towns as well- despite being a free event to the public. Later on, I moved to Dallas to do programming for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, where I focused on programming centered around community engagement. [We can thank Anne for bringing Aida Cuevas, renowned mariachi singer, to Dallas in 2018].

What a rich and meaningful set of experiences. How did this lead to the creation of The Generators?

Unfortunately, I did lose my job with AT&T PAC after Covid hit, but my cofounders and I decided to take advantage of what Covid brought, and make it better. The five of us have known each other for a long time and we really have the perfect set of experiences to make this work.

Enter The Generators. What is it?

The Generators aims to be a full-service arts, cultural and entertainment company. The goal of what we're trying to do is very different than what anyone else is doing though. I'll give you an example. The Iranian singer, Mohammad-Reza Shajarian passed away in recent years. He was one of the most important Persian voices, and his passing was devastating for the community. The people are not just mourning an idea or a man, they're mourning their cultural voice. We really don't have an equivalent in today's day and age because everyone is watching and listening to different things. So, to give the Persian community an opportunity to come together virtually and honor this voice, we are doing a concert with fellow Iranian Kayhan Kalhor, acclaimed virtuoso of the kamancheh (spiked fiddle). We aren't doing it for the traditional entertainment audience- we are doing it for the Persian community.

I love how community engagement is at the core of your mission. Do you have plans to have in-person events in a post-Covid world?

We do! Currently we are planning a tour in 2022 with an incredibly popular Indian dancer, Bijayini Satpathy, who incidentally was written up by the New York times twice last year. She's a master of a style called Odissi, and will be doing her first concert length work. We are also thinking differently about how we can engage with the corporate world. I went to a young women's leadership program recently, and it made me think about how leadership and storytelling skills can be taught to corporate employees- by artists. Besides that, we are inking the contracts for a few more live events- so stay tuned!

Learn more about The Generators on their site and be sure to check out the impressive bios of the diverse women (and man!) who are bringing this dream to life.

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From This Author Kathleen Anwar