Carol Dunne, Northern Stage's Producing Artistic Director, aims to shatter the glass ceiling for women in theater. A new initiative, the BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle, will be funded by the Pussycat Foundation and led by Dunne. The Foundation will provide $1.25 million to support Northern Stage and four other theaters run by women artistic directors during the 2018-19 season. Each theater will receive $250,000 under this unprecedented one year pilot program.
According to Northern Stage, "women have never held more than 27% of leadership positions in American regional theater." The BOLD Circle aims not just to fund theaters run by women; it plans to provide leadership resources and networking opportunities for female artistic directors, as well as training for women to assume these roles in the future.
Carol Dunne, Producing Artistic Director, Northern Stage
Dunne, who is entering her fifth year at Northern Stage, knows well the difficulties women in theater face, and the need for major change. She became an artistic director at the age of 42 after many years of acting and directing. Citing the pressures of running nonprofit theaters, Dunne, who previously worked at the New London Barn Playhouse, said "I never had the budget to join national organizations . . .or hire an assistant . . . I know countless women in theater who have felt disconnected from each other due to geographical distance and financial constraints. This grant will connect us all, support our vision and embolden us to take on some of the challenges facing women in the theater."
A panel of theater professionals will select the four other theaters and results will be announced on February 15, 2018. Northern Stage will administer the grant. Requirements, deadlines, and further information can be found on Northern Stage's website.
This is the second grant involving Dunne and the Pussycat Foundation, part of the philanthropic efforts of the late Helen Gurley Brown, founding editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. Just two weeks ago, Dunne received a $250,000 Genius Grant from the Pussycat Foundation for her work at Northern Stage and the New London Barn Playhouse. (You can read about it by clicking here.)
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Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge