American Theatre has a great report on NAMT member La Jolla Playhouse’s new audience engagement program, initiated in 2015 with a Building Audiences for Sustainability grant from the Wallace Foundation. Since receiving the grant, the Playhouse has used their resources to create and sustain programs that will allow them “to build an audience that is more reflective of San Diego.” Through interviews with staff and board members, increased patron participation and commissioning new works, the Playhouse has been hard at work on making this immersive community engagement effort one that will have a direct and lasting impact on the theatre’s work.
“To come to work every day knowing that this is what we are putting our energy toward, and that it can create real change for this institution and the community, is gratifying,” [Mary Cook, La Jolla Playhouse’s Director of Communication] says.
From the artistic side, [Associate Artistic Director Jaime] Castañeda is on the same page. “Even when it is challenging, it is the yummy bits of producing and making theatre,” he says. “What are the exciting ideas by exciting new artists or established artists, and how do we make those ideas come to fruition and share them with audiences? This is what theatres and producers and literary directors dream of.”
NAMT is excited to see our members taking the lead in innovative community engagement efforts! Our own Innovation & Exploration Grant is still in its infancy, but we hope to foster similar projects down the road. The kind of long-term, slow-and-steady thinking that La Jolla and the Wallace Foundation are engaging in is worth remembering as we expand our own work in this area.
To read more about La Jolla Playhouse’s efforts, visit the American Theatre website and read the whole article.