Reaching out to new or underserved audience for audience development is likely a major, on-going activity for any local theater troupe.
Given the large number of military families and veterans in the area along with the many military bases including the Pentagon, I reached out to Laurie Baskin, Director of Research, Policy & Collective Action, of the nationally recognized Theatre Communications Group (TCG) to learn about the national Blue Star Theatres program.
The TCG has a mission to strengthen, nurture and promote the not-for-profit theater community. You may also recognize TCG from its publication American Theatre.
“Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the professional, non-profit American Theatre, launched Blue Star Theatres to help better connect theatre offerings to military personnel across the United States.” Baskin said in a recent interview.
This initiative is intended to recognize the contributions of service families, to build stronger connections between the theatre community and military families in communities all across the country, and to help in whatever small way we can to aid service people and their families as they seek to be integrated into the lives of their communities.”
“We hope military families will visit TCG’s Blue Star advocacy site to find out about discounted or complimentary admission for active-duty military personnel and their families, as well as veterans.” Added Baskin.
Education programs and other theatre opportunities may be offered as well. There are many participating theatres in D.C. as well as Maryland and Virginia – so please visit the Blue Star Theatres webpage and visit your local participating Blue Star Theatres!”
Location information about participating theater in the DMV area.
In another program aimed at military personnel, the TCG recently launched a Veterans and Theatre Institute (VTI). The VTI is a pilot program for veterans and active military personnel “to experience, study, and create theatre.”
Under the initial VTI pilot program, four US communities (the DMV area is not one of the initial communities) the VTI will participate building what is described as “sustainable relationships” among veterans and the theatre community. Playwright and veteran Maurice Decaul is leading the Initiative.
Decaul is TCG’s first official artist-in-residence, constructing curriculum and programming over a three-year development period. The Initiative is in its initial stages of development. VTI is supported by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Building Demand for the Arts program.
With the profound and continuing sacrifices that military service members and their families make in these days of what seem forever wars and multiple tours of duty in combat zones, the Blue Star Theatres program and the Veterans and Theatre Institute are just two ways the national theater community shows its appreciation.