WAM Theatre Donations Reach 10-Year Total of $75,000

LENOX, MA [November 11, 2019] — Every year, WAM Theatre donates a portion of the box office proceeds from their Mainstage productions to organizations that work for gender equality locally, nationally, or internationally. The success of the just-closed production of PIPELINE by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Dawn M. Simmons, enabled the company to present $4500 each to their 18th and 19th  beneficiaries, Harmony Homestead and Wholeness Center, Inc., and The Women of Color Giving Circle. This brings WAM’s donation total since its founding in 2010 to $75,000.

 

The WAM Team presents checks to Harmony Homestead Wholeness Center and the Women of Color Giving Circle following the closing performance of PIPELINE on November 9, 2019. Photo by David Dashiell.

 

PIPELINE, presented by WAM in partnership with BRIDGE, is a co-production with The Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA, where the play will be performed from March 5-29, 2020.  

 

“The WAM Beneficiary Committee is delighted that our selection of these two beneficiaries enabled us to support both the professional and spiritual development of what we hope are future educators of color in the Berkshires”, Kristen van Ginhoven, Producing Artistic Director of WAM Theatre shared. “That made these two organizations the perfect beneficiaries for PIPELINE.”

“WAM’s donation will allow Harmony Homestead & Wholeness Center to create and provide a horticulture therapy program for people of color. We also hope to purchase a vehicle to help increase attendance by families of color at our programs, which include meditation, re-evaluation counseling classes, cultural food growing, and nature immersion programs” explained Elizabeth Blackshine, Founder of Harmony Homestead & Wholeness Center.

 

“This donation from WAM will help the Women of Color Giving Circle upgrade the educational tools we use in our mentoring program for girls and their families.”  said Leah Reed,  a member of the Circle.  “It will also help us facilitate and maintain connections with students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) as we foster collaborative relationships by bringing them to the Berkshires to work with our youth.”

 

The 2019 beneficiaries were chosen after a thoughtful and rigorous selection process, including a request for proposals and site visits, overseen by a committee at WAM consisting of Kristen van Ginhoven (WAM Producing Artistic Director), Margaret Fluhr (WAM Board of Directors), Wendy Healey (WAM Board of Directors), Dori Parkman (WAM General Manager) and Lia Russell-Self (WAM Associate Producing Director). Stephanie Wright of BRIDGE joined the committee this year as part of the WAM/BRIDGE partnership on PIPELINE.

 

Harmony Homestead and the Women of Color Giving Circle are WAM’s 18th & 19th beneficiaries. Past recipients include: Tapestry Health Systems, The MoonCatcher Project, The Denise Kaley Fund,  the LIPPI Program of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, the Soldier On Women’s Program, the Berkshire Immigrant Center, Suzi Banks Baum’s New Illuminations initiative in Gyumri, Armenia, Hands in Outreach, Sisters for Peace, Mother of Peace Orphanage in Illovo, South Africa, the Rites of Passage and Empowerment Program for Girls (ROPE), Shout Out Loud Productions, Berkshire United Way’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Edna’s Hospital in Somaliland, The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, and Women for Women International. Read more.

 

An important component of the WAM/BRIDGE partnership was creating a sense of engagement and place for the artists and production team. BRIDGE Founder and CEO, Gwendolyn VanSant coached the WAM team in equity and inclusion practices for beneficiary processes, relevant community partner engagement, board and volunteer education, and the artist and audience engagement and outreach; consulted in design of curriculum, study guide and playbill; participated in auditions and designed a supplemental talkback to support Berkshire county audience and panelists at the intersections of the WAM and BRIDGE mission. Representatives of the PIPELINE beneficiaries, along with BRIDGE Towards Racial Justice activists and allies, provided additional meals and meetings to support the guest artists while they were in the Berkshires performing this play, as well as ushered for the play and provided support for the production where needed. 

 

“Through this production, we looked to fortify and nourish local partnerships and cultivate access points for authentic discussion for students and adults engaged with our schools and justice systems around the stark ethnic disparities that exist for Black families. As we identified gaps in understanding and life experience for some audience members and a deep resonance for others, this unique Berkshire production of PIPELINE offered solutions and future models for all arts organizations through a deep, intentional collaboration with community partners for all of us as educators, parents, students, artists and leaders to grow from,” Gwendolyn VanSant explained. “PIPELINE helped us deepen these conversations with courage and vulnerability.”

 

An in-school workshop series, designed and taught by Talya Kingston of WAM and Stephanie Wright of BRIDGE,  provided the 8th grade students of Nessacus Regional Middle School attending PIPELINE with classes to introduce the students to concepts of racial bias, micro and macro aggressions, and stereotyping, and provided them with strategies to embrace individual responsibility and to facilitate community change.

Nessacus 8th Graders pay rapt attention during their talkback.

 

PIPELINE Community Development workshops (PIPELINE 2.0), designed and taught by Lia Russell-Self from WAM and Gwendolyn VanSant from BRIDGE, were presented in multiple professional development and public events across Berkshire County to extend the opportunity for learning from the immense power of PIPELINE outside of the theatre toward positive social impact. Participants were educators who selected the Pipeline 2.0 session for Berkshire County Professional Development Day for educators, MCLA students and their faculty on the Day of Dialogue, BRIDGE Race Amity Day participants and the Nessacus 8th grade team. 

 

Curated and moderated by Gwendolyn VanSant, a well attended series of post show conversations offered audience members an opportunity to engage with artists involved in the production and with speakers such as Dr. Tracey Benson, author of Unconscious Bias in Schools, Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington, DA office Community Engagement Coordinator Bryan House, Dennis Powell, President of the NAACP-Berkshire Chapter, and local subject matter experts, beneficiaries and others.

 

On Saturday, November 2nd, WAM’s Fresh Takes play reading series had a successful reading of PARADISE by Laura Maria Censabella, followed by a conversation with the playwright, actors Layan Elwazani and Jay Sefton, and director Talya Kingston.  

Lyana

Layan Elwazani and Jay Sefton in WAM’s Fresh Takes Reading of Laura Maria Censabella’s PARADISE. Photo by David Dashiell.

Finally, after the closing performance on November 9, there was a chance to meet representatives of Harmony Homestead and the Women of Color Giving Circle and hear more about how WAM’s donations will impact their work. This was followed by the check presentation ceremony.

 

“It is phenomenal to wrap up  our 10th season with these inspiring donations.” said WAM’s van Ginhoven, “This production of PIPELINE and our close work with our partners at BRIDGE and our co-producers at The Nora at Central Square Theater was an extraordinary experience for us all and the perfect way to conclude our first decade and lay the foundation for our second.”

 

This co-production of PIPELINE will be presented by The Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA,  March 5-29, 2020.  

 

PIPELINE was sponsored in part by Carolyn Butler.

 

About WAM’s fall production of PIPELINE

 

AT A GLANCE

 

October 24-November 9, 2019
PIPELINE
by Dominique Morisseau

Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA

www.wamtheatre.com/pipeline

A powerful and thought-provoking examination of race, class, and the American education system

 

Featuring Hubens “Bobby” Cius, Barbara Douglass, Alexandria Danielle King, James Ricardo Milord, Sandra Seoane-Serí, and Kevin Craig West

 

Shelley Barish, Scenic Designer

Michaela Carmelo Bocchino, Lighting Designer

Greg Smith, Sound Designer

Elizabeth Rocha, Costume Designer

John ADEkoje, Projection Designer

Lauren Burke, Stage Manager

 

Presented in Partnership with Multicultural BRIDGE

 

Co-produced with The Nora at Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA, where the show will be presented March 5-29, 2020.

This production of PIPELINE is sponsored in part by Carolyn Butler.

 

About Harmony Homestead & Wholeness Center

Harmony Homestead & Wholeness Center exists to facilitate social harmony and reparations to members of the underserved global majority by means of support groups, reconnecting with nature, sustainably growing and preserving food, preserving and practicing indigenous wisdom, and fostering cross-cultural allies.

 

For more information: unveilwholeness.com/

 

About Women of Color Giving Circle

In affiliation with the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, the Women of Color Giving Circle of the Berkshires seeks to inspire young women of color and instill self-respect and resilience. They work to build community, encourage youth development and educational success, and promote the arts. They provide funding and encourage civic action among citizens of Berkshire County.

 

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/wocgc1/

 

ABOUT BRIDGE

 

BRIDGE, a Minority and Women Run Nin-Profit Organization, started as a grassroots Berkshire-based organization dedicated to catalyzing change and integration. 

 

Since 2007,  BRIDGE’s mission has been “promoting mutual understanding and respect among diverse groups serving as a resource to both local institutions and the community at large. Serving the Commonwealth and beyond as a Supplier Diversity Program certified by the Affirmative Market program of the Massachusetts, we serve as catalysts for change and integration through collaboration, education, training, dialogue, fellowship and advocacy.” Our core values are accountability, empowerment, celebration, learning, collaboration, and equity.

 

Through a 360 degree perspective on community and civic participation, BRIDGE has designed a holistic approach to community and public health. BRIDGE’s goal is to impact hearts, minds and behaviors that result in positive cultural shifts and systemic changes in policy, law and practice towards a more just, safe and equitable society.

 

Services include access to cultural​ literacy and cultural competence ​training; diversity equity and inclusion consulting, facilitation; youth leadership; multicultural education; parent engagement and education; civil rights and social justice forums and advocacy with diverse groups. We facilitate cultural competence programming in schools and institutions to promote equity and to educate on systemic racism and cultural barriers.

 

For more information: www.multiculturalbridge.org

 

ABOUT CENTRAL SQUARE THEATER

 

Central Square Theater (CST) is a state-of-the-art theatrical arts facility where audiences find, under one roof, the distinctive repertoires of two award-winning, professional companies, Underground Railway Theater (URT) and The Nora Theatre Company (The Nora), as well as collaborative projects drawing on their creative synergy.

 

Central Square Theater is a  cultural anchor in the community — schools, families, and community groups benefit from outreach and educational programs, and the local economy gets a boost from the nearly 30,000 audience members that visit CST each season and enjoy the multicultural, multi-generational, urban environment of Central Square, Cambridge.

 

As the first permanent home for both theater companies, Central Square Theater is a vibrant hub of theatrical, educational, and social activity, where artists and audiences come together to create theater vital to the community. The theater is dedicated to providing affordable ticket prices for underserved communities and offers free or discounted tickets to many local non-profit organizations.

 

For more information: www.centralsquaretheater.org

For more information on The Nora at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA, visit: https://www.centralsquaretheater.org/about/the-nora-theatre-company/

 

WAM 10th Anniversary Sponsors

WAM’s 2019 sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Annie Selke, Baystate Financial, Berkshire Gas, Berkshire Hand to Shoulder Center, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Berkshire Magazine, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, Blue Q, Blue Spark Financial, Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Canyon Ranch, Chez Nous, Custom Business Solutions, Dr, Jay Wise, DDS and Dr. Casey Jones, DMD, The Dylandale Foundation, Frankie’s Ristorante Italiano, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Haven Cafe and Bakery, Health Professional Coaching, Heller & Robbins, Interprint, J.H. Maxymillian, Inc., Lee Bank, Maggie Barry, NEPR, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Only in My Dreams Events, Onyx Specialty Papers, OUTPOST, RB Design Co., Scarlett Sock Foundation, The Rogovoy Report, The Rookwood Inn, Salisbury Bank, T Square Design Studio, Toole Insurance, and a. von schlegell & co.

 

WAM Theatre is also supported in part by grants from the Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, Cultural Council of Northern Berkshires, Hinsdale-Peru Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, New Marlborough Cultural Council, Otis Cultural Council, Richmond Cultural Council, Sandisfield Cultural Council, Sheffield Cultural Council, Washington Cultural Council, West Stockbridge Cultural Council– local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

 

PARADISE is sponsored in part by Jadzia and Donald Brown, LADY RANDY was sponsored in part by an anonymous donor and PIPELINE is sponsored in part by Carolyn Butler. 

 

ABOUT WAM THEATRE

 

WAM Theatre is a professional theatre company based in Berkshire County, MA, that operates at the intersection of arts and activism. WAM creates theatre for gender equity and has a vision of theatre as philanthropy. 

 

In fulfillment of its philanthropic mission, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from their Mainstage productions to carefully selected beneficiaries. Since WAM’s founding in 2010, they have donated more than $75,000 to 19 local and global organizations taking action for gender equity in areas such as girls education, teen pregnancy prevention, sexual trafficking awareness, midwife training, and more. 

 

In addition to Mainstage productions and special events, WAM’s activities include innovative community engagement programs and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. To date, WAM has provided paid work to more than 400 theatre artists, the majority of whom are female-identifying.

 

As a civic organization that embraces intersectional feminism (feminism that acknowledges how multiple forms of discrimination overlap), WAM understands that to address one piece of systemic discrimination means we have to address them all. This is on-going personal and professional work at WAM for the staff and board.

 

WAM Theatre has been widely recognized for having a positive impact on cultural and community development in the region. WAM is the recipient of the Creative Economy Standout Berkshire Trendsetter Award and previously, was named Outstanding Philanthropy Corporation of the Year by the Western MA Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM’s Producing Artistic Director, was honored by the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association (BTCA) with the prestigious Larry Murray Award, presented at the discretion of the BTCA Board to a person or theatre project that advances social, political, or community issues in Berkshire County. 

 

For more information: www.WAMTheatre.com

 

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