by Wendy Marie Martin
On October 26th and 27th the Statera Arts conference was held at the City College of New York (CCNY), and brought nearly 200 participants together to focus on parity and equality in American Theater.
For those of you not familiar with Statera Arts, Melinda Pfunstein and Shelley Gaza founded it in 2015 with the mission to take “positive action to bring women into full and equal participation in the arts.” This was the 4th annual Statera conference to date and “offered individual artists, arts administrators, academics, and students the opportunity to innovate around unique strategies for manifesting gender parity in our work, our organizations, and our institutions.”
There were over 65 speakers and panelists and attendees “from all over the country as well as international guests from Prague, Nairobi, South America, and Toronto.” Workshops topics ranged from “Bridging the Inequality Gap with Improv” to “Culture Bending with the Bechdel Project” to “Writing Gender: Tools for Playwrights” and beyond.
There was a SWAN day panel on supporting woman artists as well as a Parent Artists Advocacy League (PAAL) panel on “Parenting/Caregiving on the Road to Parity” and some fantastic performances. The Keynote speakers were May Adrales, Associate Artistic Director of Milwaukee Rep, and Broadway star, Joanna Gleason.
I was thrilled to attend the conference with my co-workshop presenter, Namrata Jain, and lead a breakout session on “Collaborations in Global Feminist Performance.”
Wendy-Marie Martin, left. Namrata Jain, right
One of the absolute highlights of the weekend, however, was the opportunity to meet two of my ICWP sisters, Elana Gartner and Sophie Dowllar Ogutu. Having only see their names on the connect serve or as part of the 3-Minute play submission process, it was wonderful to meet these amazing women in person and get to know them and their work a bit better.
LL to R. Wendy Marie Martin, Elana Gartner, Sophie Dowllar Ogutu.
Not only was I able to attend a couple workshops with Elana and Sophie, but Elana and I were able to watch Sophie receive the Visionary Woman in Leadership Award, which is given annually to “a visionary woman* who uplifts, amplifies, and advances women in the arts.”
Sophie was honored for her activism for women in the arts, specifically for her work creating and continued to fostering SWAN day in Kenya. According to her nominators, “Everything Sophie does is WOMEN-centered. She introduced international grassroots feminist women to us here in Kenya. She also introduced SWAN Day Festival. She believes in empowering women. She truly is a believer of women's advancement and true empowerment.”
The weekend overall was inspiring and deliciously exhausting and gave me hope for the future of gender parity in American theater.
It’s an experience I continue to carry into my work as an educator, arts activist, and playwright. Experiences like this are the reason ICWP has created the educational opportunity Development Fund, and I am beyond excited to see our ICWP representation grow at conferences around the word moving forward.
ICWP Board Member
Fundraising Committee Member and 3-Minute Play Contest Coordinator