Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates Joins Firehouse Theatre Staff

Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates Joins Firehouse Theatre Staff

Firehouse Theatre welcomes Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates as its new Education and Community Outreach Director. Dr. Pettiford-Wates currently teaches in the Graduate MFA Pedagogy Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. She also serves as the Artistic Director and Conceptualist for The Conciliation Project, Richmond's social justice theatre company which aims to promote, through active and challenging dramatic work, open and honest dialogue about racism and oppression in America.

Prior to moving to Richmond, Dr. Pettiford-Wates called Seattle, Washington home and served on the faculty at The University of Washington Screen Writers Program, Cornish College for the ARTS, and Seattle Central Community College. She served a commissioner of the Seattle Arts Commission, adjudicator and panelist for the King County Arts Commission, and artist in residence and adjudicator for the Washington State Arts Commission.

Dr. Pettiford-Wates is no stranger to the Richmond theatre scene. At Firehouse Theatre, she has directed Time Stands Still and A Streetcar Named Desire; this season she is set to direct the sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War, Paula Vogel's A Civil War Christmas opening November 2014. As a professor, she was honored to receive the 2011 PACME and the Rise Melton Award presented by President Rao of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Now a 10-year resident of Richmond, Dr. Pettiford-Wates is happy to call the River City home and looks forward to building Firehouse Theatre's class offerings to be inclusive of the growing and diverse community of Central Virginia. Dr. Pettiford-Wates will assume the leadership for Firehouse Theatre's Education and Community Outreach programs, manage the annual Festival of New American Plays, and lead the Anti-Bullying Collaboration (ABC) program.

"There is a growing and diverse community in RVA," says Pettiford-Wates. "It is incumbent upon arts organizations to actively and intentionally develop strategies to engage new audiences and develop and nurture new and emerging artists in order to ensure that we address the changing demography of our community and are responsive to their needs. The current trends within arts generally include more collaborative relationships between arts organizations and work that is often interdisciplinary and challenging to the traditional norms. The continuing relationship between The Conciliation Project and Firehouse Theatre is an example of this type of engagement. Both organizations work independently with distinct and separate viewpoints while engaging actively in collaborative efforts like the ABC (Anti Bullying Campaign) in support of one another's work and missions."

"We are delighted to have Dr. Pettiford-Wates on board at Firehouse to help us build our education programs and community outreach," says Board of Directors President Jo Kennedy. "She brings vast experience and expertise in these areas and will be a great asset to Firehouse in supporting both the artistic and outreach aspects of the theatre."

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