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City Theatre Creates Shared Artistic Director Structure 

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New play company forms Co-Artistic Director, Model: Clare Drobot and Monteze Freeland join Marc Masterson in leadership 

City Theatre Creates Shared Artistic Director Structure 

The City Theatre board of directors has announced a re-structuring of the artistic director position, elevating current staff members Clare Drobot and Monteze Freeland to Co-Artistic Directors with Marc Masterson, who had held the title of singular artistic director since 2018. The new model goes into effect on September 6, 2021.

"The ultimate goal of this re-structuring is to adapt and evolve the traditional hierarchy within the professional theater and ensure a greater multitude of voices and perspectives are empowered in season programming and mission execution," said Board President Alex Condron. "Clare, Monteze, and Marc are to share in the artistic decision-making and work closely with our other board report, Managing Director James McNeel, in living out our vision and values."

City Theatre was the first in the region to publicly respond to the We See You White American Theater Demands (www.weseewat.com) with a series of public commitments in November 2020. A key piece was the establishment of a Succession Planning Taskforce consisting of current and former board members. The City Theatre board of directors unanimously approved the recommendation of the Taskforce to establish shared structure, for an initial three-year period, at a special meeting in July.

"City Theatre's choice to move to a shared leadership model is evidence of the ongoing work of its Board and staff to bring the best of what is possible to its artists, audiences, and community. National New Play Network is proud to have supported Monteze's expanding role at City as an NNPN Producer in Residence, Clare's growing leadership in the field as we welcome her to our Board, and Marc's impact on the new American canon," shared Nan Barnett, NNPN Executive Director, providing an early industry response to the new model. "We look forward to sharing the results of this innovative shift with our Member Theaters across the country."

At City Theatre, Ms. Drobot, Mr. Freeland, and Mr. Masterson will rotate as "lead" artistic director for a year, serving as the point person for staff and the board for a given season. All three Co-Artistic Leaders will work through consensus in determining programming and to ensure implementation of the organization's season selection, education and community engagement initiatives, and new play development. Masterson will serve in the "lead" co-artistic director role for the current 2021-22 season with Drobot following in 2022-23 and Freeland in 2023-24.

"I deeply believe in the power of group creativity. That is the power of theatre as an artform," commented Masterson. "I am excited by the opportunity to collaborate with these excellent artists in realizing an exciting vision for City Theatre."

"For over a decade, City Theatre Company has served as an artistic home for me, affording me various opportunities for professional and artistic growth. While this leadership model is a change for our staff, artists, audiences, board of directors and donors, it embodies the essence of the principle of Ujima: Meaning collective work and responsibility," stated Freeland. "Arts-makers bear a greater responsibility to our communities than ever before, and it will require collective work to break the barriers to equal access and foster an inherent culture of inclusivity."

"I am so thrilled to join, Monteze, Marc, James, and our wonderful colleagues on the staff and board in shaping the next iteration of City Theatre. The heart of our work is building community through storytelling," continued Drobot. "By crafting a leadership model that champions consensus, we will be able to expand the voices at our theatrical table, fostering community connections, artistic collaborations, and a bright future for new plays in Pittsburgh."

Since the early months of the pandemic, like many cultural organizations, City Theatre has undergone significant reflection and adaptation, prioritizing Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) practices and anti-racism principles. Across the field, there are ongoing discussions around "flattening" the top-down artistic decision-making, especially as it relates to what voices are presented on stage and which artists receive institutional resources. The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia adopted a similar structure in 2020 as did Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago earlier this summer.

In addition to the creation of the new leadership structure, the City Theatre staff and board of directors recently released its first-ever anti-racism plan. The organization is also implementing other commitments made in response to the We See You White American Theater Demands, including establishing greater accountability safeguards, feedback opportunities, and 360 reviews from key stakeholders. More information can be found at www.CityTheatreCompany.org/EDIA.


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