Greetings and Happy Anniversary TLA!
Congratulations to Theatre Library Association on our upcoming 80th Anniversary in 2017!
Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!
Statement on the Outcome of the Presidential Election
Before I begin the summary of events for the Theatre Library Association in 2016, I offer a note on the national state of affairs since the outcome of the presidential election. I strongly believe that we need to remain vigilant in the face of our President Elect and a new administration that from all actions to date pose a challenge to the mission and membership of Theatre Library Association. We are not a political association but we need to work in defense of civil rights and freedom of speech for all of our members and our partners in the United States and the world. These rights are particularly vulnerable and are at the core of the work of our performing arts and of libraries. We need to stay committed and work against hatred and intolerance in all of our communities both personal and professional. We need to advocate more than ever for the preservation of our cultural heritage. Unfortunately, there are as many issues of concern as there are unknowns and uncertainties given the unsettling nature of the presidential campaign and the recent nominations for several of the highest and most powerful offices in our government.
I believe it is important for TLA to remain a voice in defense of our beliefs and values on behalf of our members and all of our constituencies.
Report on the Activities of Theatre Library Association
It has been a good year for Theatre Library Association. On the 14th of October, I had the privilege of addressing the membership of the Theatre Library Association. As stipulated by our by-laws, we hold an Annual Business Meeting at which time our members have the opportunity to hear about the ongoing work and progress of this wonderful association. I am sharing expanded comments from the October meeting.
It is a bittersweet moment for me to be coming to the end of my service as President of Theatre Library Association. It has been my pleasure to serve this membership in a leadership role for the past four years and for more than decade on the Board. I am proud of our accomplishments and confident for a vibrant future. TLA is strong and our mission continues to serve the purpose of preserving the performing arts and providing a network for the professional development of librarians, curators, archivists, scholars and artists. I look forward to serving as Past President, mentor and advisor. I have enjoyed meeting TLA members, working with the Board, encouraging new members to get involved and take great pride in TLA’s contributions to the profession.
I offer a special note of thanks to our exemplary TLA Board. They reflect the fabric of our membership: curators of special collections, administrators, archivists, subject specialists working in academic and public libraries, and scholars who believe strongly in the close ties of libraries, archives and collections to the research process. They have all committed to furthering the work of TLA. Many thanks to Kenneth Schlesinger, Past President, for his dedication to the mission and work of TLA.
Book Awards and Distinguished Service Award Event
The Book Awards event was held on the 14th of October immediately following the Annual Business Meeting. It was an extraordinary and enjoyable evening. For the second consecutive year we hosted the event in the café at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. We were honored to have most of the award recipients in attendance. All of them spoke to the role and importance of libraries and archives to their success. The 2015 George Freedley Memorial Award was presented to Terry Alford for Fortune’s Fool: the Life of John Wilke Booth and the Special Jury Prize to Bernth Lindors for the four-volume biography, Ira Aldridge. The 2015 Richard Wall Memorial Award was presented to
James Layton and David Pierce for The Dawn of Technicolor, 1915-1935 and the Special Jury Prize was given to Shelley stamp for Lois Weber in Early Hollywood.
We had an outstanding reception with members and supporters of TLA coming together to share congratulations, enjoy a lively social engagement and to raise a glass of bubbly!
The Freedley Award has been honoring works since 1969 and the Wall Award since 1974. The list of recipients in the various categories is exceptional. It serves as an outstanding reading list and as an impressive core bibliography for any new performing arts collection. Our 2015 winners join Arnold Aronson, James Shapiro, Stephen Sondheim, Rachel Shteir, Errol Hill, Mel Gussow, Mark Harris, Jeanine Basinger, and Richard Abel, among so many others.
Thank you to our Freedley Award Jury members James Fisher, Annie Holt and Don Wilmeth. Thank you to our Wall Award Jury members John Calhoun and Stephen Tropiano. Thank you to David Pierce who was recused from all discussions regarding his book but re-joined the jury in an advisory capacity providing input and critical notes on books being considered as finalists.
Congratulations to Rob Melton on receiving the Louis A. Rachow Distinguished Service Award and to Megan Mitchell recipient of the Brooks McNamara Performing Arts Librarian Scholarship Award. Rob was able to attend the event at which time he shared remembrances of his career and his work with TLA. His contributions to TLA are deeply appreciated.
A note of congratulations and thanks to the Book Awards Committee for managing and coordinating the complexities of the book awards process and for arranging and hosting the celebratory event. Cheers to co-chairs Diana Bertolini and Annemarie van Roessel and committee members Suzanne Lipkin and Morgen Stevens-Garmon. A note of gratitude to outgoing members Tiffany Nixon and Linda Miles for their tireless work in helping to reconstitute the book awards process.
I encourage everyone to stay current with our Book Reviews. The reviews are periodically published to the TLA website providing insightful notes on new works essential to our field of study. Many thanks to James Fischer, Marti LoMonaco, Francesca Marini and Catherine Ritchie – to name a few of our contributors.
Thank you to Emily Witkowski who has taken over as the Book Review Editor for her excellent work in coordinating this process.
New PAR Volumes
We have two exciting PAR volumes in process. Marti LoMonaco is currently editing a volume on Theatre Exhibitions. John Calhoun and I are co-editing a volume on Theatre Architecture.
On the 13th of October, TLA hosted our fourth symposium entitled Fringe Festivals : Live Theatre on the Edge. We heard from scholars, professionals representing festivals in Washington, D.C., Orlando, New York, and Philadelphia, and from librarians and archivists. This was a remarkable day filled with engaging discussions on many aspects of the fringe including the history of the fringe, fringe fandom and Brecht. Those representing the festivals shared their histories and
practices in encouraging and supporting new works. They provided testimony to the challenges of unique financial models inherent to the fringe. The day closed with an engaging discussion on preserving the fringe.
Congratulations to the committee for outstanding work on this event. Cheers to co-chairs Leahkim
Gannett and Matt DiCintio, and committee members Morgen Stevens-Garmon, AJ Muhammad, Laurie Murphy and Rachel Smiley. We love the new TLA table runner! Cheers to Laurie Murphy for arranging the TLA macarons!
We continue to enjoy an important relationship with SIBMAS which has only strengthened since the success of the New York Conference in 2014. This past May/June, SIBMAS hosted their biennial conference in Copenhagen. There were several TLA members in attendance and overall strong representation from North America. In true SIBMAS style, the conference presentations were engaging and dynamic. The topics focused on a wide range of important developments in the field of collecting and preserving the performing arts. Each evening provided for excellent conversation, great food and wine, and unique opportunities to explore the historical theatres of the magnificent city of Copenhagen.
On a personal note, it has been my privilege to work with Jan Van Goethem, President of SIBMAS. He offered great guidance and support for our joint endeavors. Both Jan and I agree – this is a great partnership. Cheers to Alan Jones, my former co-chair on the SIBMAS TLA Conference 2014, for your bright sense of humor. The SIBMAS TLA Conference in NYC was certainly one of the highlights of my term as president.
Our events at the ASTR Conferences include a plenary and a theatre excursion tour. Both events are consistently well attended and enthusiastically received. Many thanks to Beth Kattelman and Matt DiCintio for their work on the TLA Plenary for ASTR 2016 (see full report). We are currently in preparation for ASTR 2017 with Doug Reside serving as chair for the TLA Plenary.
We have a dynamic membership! Here are just a few highlights from the field.
Congratulations to James Fisher who earlier this year was awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award! This is a distinguished honor and well-deserved. James is a Professor of Theatre, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance
at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is a long-standing TLA member. He serves as a Freedley juror and continues as an active contributor to our book reviews. Many thanks to James for all of his work for TLA. On behalf of the Board and our membership, your work is deeply appreciated.
Congratulations to Doug Reside, Curator, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, for his work on Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London. The exhibition is now on display at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts after its debut at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Additional information can be found here.
Congratulations to Kevin Winkler, Past President and a most distinguished member of TLA, on his forthcoming book entitled Big Deal: Bob Fosse, Dance and the American Musical (Oxford University Press). Enjoy a recent post to his blog at The Huffington Post — “Spend a little time with Mimi and Bob and Gwen.”
What we have accomplished!
One of my first duties as President, I decided to review our website and content storage practices. Our website was in desperate need of a new design and new thinking on how we use this resource for communication to our membership and the world. We have accomplished a great success in design and purpose. By moving to WordPress for our backend, we have enabled multiple contributors to the website. We can take advantage of the flexibility and continual development of the platform. The Website Committee will look to new and continuing members to review and streamline workflows and content development. We moved Broadside to an online publication created by compiling posts and news reports from the website. Many thanks to David Nochimson and Angela Weaver for their work in coordinating the development of the website. Many thanks to the Website Committee. Thank you Angela for your wonderful work on Broadside Online.
Social Media is an important communication outlet for us and we will continue to support these activities. We have enjoyed a small uptick in our Facebook traffic and will look forward to expanding our presence on Twitter.
In February 2015, I helped to arrange a Wikipedia edit-a-thon with La Mama’s archivist Rachel Mattson. Rachel was most interested in adding profiles of artists and works related to La Mama. We had a good turnout with enthusiastic contributors. I think TLA should engage more frequently in these types of events supporting Wikipedia coverage of the performing arts.
TLA Book Club
I initiated the TLA Book Club last year and even though this initiative did not take hold after one reading — I plan to give it another try!
Ad Hoc Committee PAR and Open Access
I have encouraged the Board for the past year to engage in an informed discussion on open access and the feasibility of offering Performing Arts Resources in an open access model. I charged an Ad Hoc Committee on PAR chaired by Joe Tally. Joe has assembled information on viable models and sustainability.
We continue to investigate how we can provide an open access model, continue to publish a print volume (or not) and what impact this will have on our membership and revenue which is solely earned through individual and institutional membership dues. For institutions, membership to TLA is a subscription to PAR. I have had numerous discussions with like associations and many of us are in review of feasible next steps. Needless to say, this is a complicated issue for non-profit associations reliant on membership fees tied directly to a publication.
Geographic diversity on our Board
For many years, we heard from our membership that TLA was too NYC-centric. The good news – the board is geographically dispersed with strong representation from both coasts and the Midwest!
As a result, we are looking at new models for the TLA Board meetings. With the expense of travel and reduced funding from home institutions, it is imperative that we look to new models for continuing the business of TLA. With partial success, we held one virtual meeting in May/June. The board continues to be receptive to working on this. We do agree that the October meeting which is followed by the Annual Business and Book Awards will remain in person and in NYC.
The TLA Board approved the establishment of a committee to investigate and recommend a biennial schedule for our symposia. The Board was in agreement that these events are important to our mission. More news to come on this initiative.
TLA Election Results
Congratulations to our newly elected Executive Officers and new members to the TLA Board. This is an excellent roster and I am confident in a strong future for our association.
New Board Members
TLA Board Meetings — 2017