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News & Press: Message from the President

From ATHE President Josh Abrams, January 2020

Monday, February 3, 2020   (0 Comments)
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Greetings from Detroit, where we’ve just finished the mid-year Governing Council and Conference Committee meetings! It’s been an exhausting, but exhilarating, weekend, and I can’t wait to be back here again this summer. The Renaissance Center is a fascinating, if labyrinthine, building, and the Marriott is located in a central tower with stunning views of Detroit and/or Windsor, Canada from all (I think) of the sleeping rooms. There’s also a wraparound gym on the 40th floor looking over the city. There are some good cheap food options in a food court attached to the building as well as within easy walking distance. In addition to all the meeting rooms, there’s an incredible amount of great lobby/social space for all the more unplanned portions of the conference. The ‘RenCen’ is right in the heart of downtown Detroit, an easy walk to Eastern Market, where I look forward to spending more time visiting this summer, as well as a great range of other fascinating neighborhoods and great food and drink options. The airport transportation isn’t ideal (Detroit as a city has been very focused on the individual in the car for understandable historical reasons), so we’re working to figure out the best ways to help people facilitate rideshares and other easy ways of getting to and from the hotel. (There is a public bus option for only $2!) The conference committee, along with GC committees, and our conference planner, Devon Binder at Red Door Alliances, are working on a number of exciting new initiatives for Detroit this year, as well as going forward. Watch this space for more exciting conference news!

At the mid-year meetings, we had a great Zoom meeting with many of the Focus Group Representatives, who gave up some of their Saturday to join the GC volunteers to consider what matters most to us as an organization. Aimee gave us all a great presentation on some new online possibilities for Focus Group communication through the website, with a new social network platform on the website once members login. In the autumn, Data and Communications Manager Shaun Franklin-Sewell provided all Focus Groups with lists of the members who had expressed interest in being part of those particular groups, and we’ll be updating that quartery, as well as supporting FG communication through Google Groups, and the website. As a reminder, if you’d like to know what’s going on within a particular focus group, you can sign up to join them through the website when you’re logged into your account.

ATHE, as you may have seen, is a signatory to a letter from a group of theatre, performance, and dance organizations regarding the attacks on Indian Universities in the wake of the Indian government’s Citizenship Amendment Act. ATHE is an advocacy organization and the Governing Council believe that we should be more proactive in speaking up with regard to challenges higher education faces, particularly around theatre and cognate art forms. If any member of the organization, or a focus group, wishes to bring something to our attention along these lines, please feel free to email me (or any member of the GC), and we will explore the organizational possibilities. This could include both governmental and political challenges, as well as threatened department closures.

ATHE will also be publishing a new handbook for theatre faculty and chairs. Cultivating Leadership: A Primer for Academic Theatre Programs, edited by former ATHE LI convenors Barbara O. Korner and Mark A. Heckler, supersedes a previous ATHE publication from 2001, Creative Leadership: A Handbook for Theatre Department Chairs. We’re anticipating that the book will be available through ATHE as well as Amazon by this year’s conference.

We continue to work on updating and streamlining the ATHE Operations Manual, as well as revisiting our membership models, following the bylaw amendment voted on last year and will have more information about all of this shortly. Immediate Past President Harvey Young and the Nominations Committee are starting work on identifying a slate for the Governing Council Officer roles that are up this summer. All the current Officers are working on a breadth of initiatives, many of which you’ll hear about in the pages of ATHENews this spring. As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and concerns at president@athe.org

All my best for a healthy and happy 2020!



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