What does WAM stand for?
Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven wrote a blog on this in February 2016. Read it here. The gist: WAM stands for ‘Where Arts and Activism Meet. Initially, when brainstorming a name for this company in 2009, we loved the forward moving energy of the sound of ‘WAM’ and were inspired by some of Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art paintings. As so many people ask us what it stands for, we did create a ‘backronym’ at one point, coming up with the words ‘Women’s Action Movement’ to stand for WAM, because when we launched WAM Theatre on January 1, 2010, the acronym reflected the fact that, as inspired by HALF THE SKY: TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, we were taking action and joining the movement to create more opportunity for women worldwide. As time passed, that didn’t feel like it captured ALL we do using theatre as philanthropy- so we then said it stood for nothing. Completely unsatisfying. So- as you’ll read in Kristen’s blog, on a walk in late 2015, Kristen realized that now, as WAM enters it’s seventh year, WAM stands for ‘Where Arts and Activism Meet’. WAM’s’ vision is to create opportunity for women and girls and we do that through our mission of theatre as philanthropy. We are indeed a place where Arts (Through Theatre) and Activism (Through Philanthropy) meet.
What is WAM Theatre?
WAM Theatre is a professional theatre company based in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. WAM launched in 2010 to use theatre to take action for women and girls worldwide. WAM Theatre’s philanthropic mission is two-fold. 1) creating theatrical events for everyone, with a focus on women theatre artists and/or stories of women and girls 2) donating a portion of proceeds from those events to organizations that work to benefit the lives of women and girls locally and globally. Our vision is to create opportunity for women and girls. We do that through our mission of theatre as philanthropy.
Why Women and Girls?
Poverty, domestic and gender-based violence, sexual slavery and human trafficking, maternal mortality, lack of education: all of these things and more oppress women in a time when we need the skills and the best of everyone worldwide. WAM Theatre is our way of taking action.
Kristen van Ginhoven and Leigh Strimbeck, WAM co-founders, both harbour a long standing desire to take action for the rights of women and girls worldwide. In late 2009, they read HALF THE SKY: TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Inspired by the book and their desire to do their part to turn oppression into opportunity, Kristen and Leigh began 2010 by founding WAM Theatre.
Clink on the link below for statistics that compel us to take action:
Click on the link below to read inspiring stories of women who have turned oppression into opportunity:
Theatre is a force for good in the world. Storytelling is an impactful way to gain new perspectives.
Some years ago a group of enthusiastic runners put together the notion that they could run and raise money for important causes at the same time. Now we take it for granted that a runner may be running for the Cure. WAM Theatre wants to do the same with theatre.
Does WAM Theatre pay the people who work on their productions?
Yes, WAM Theatre provides payment to the professional theatre artists who work with us. Creating work for our fellow professional theatre artists is part of our goal as a professional theatre. Currently, members of the professional actors’s union, Equity, work with WAM Theatre under a Small Professional Theatre Contract. WAM also pays the non-union actors who work with us on our productions.
Is my donation tax-deductible?
Yes. WAM Theatre, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, therefore, all your donations to WAM Theatre are tax-deductible.
How do I receive my tax receipt?
We mail everyone a tax receipt who donates by cash or check a tax receipt. If you donate online, you will receipt an email confirmation letter that will serve as your tax receipt.
How will my donation money be used?
Your donation will support WAM’s Education and Event programming. Portions of the tickets sales, usually 25% of box office proceeds, will go to an organization, local or global, that benefits women and girls. Supporting women and girls worldwide by supporting the arts. Double philanthropy.
Examples of costs to produce the events include rental of the theatre space, event insurance policies, paying for the rights for published plays, marketing costs, paying theatre artists (actors, stage managers, designers, directors, etc.), design budgets, and administrative costs.
How will WAM Theatre raise funds?
Where will WAM Theatre be located?
WAM Theatre rents spaces for productions on an as-needed basis, producing in both areas as possible. Our main business office is located at: 56 Church Street, Lenox, MA 01240 and at the moment, our mainstage productions are produced in the Berkshires.
How often will WAM Theatre produce theatrical events?
Our goal is to produce once or twice a year while maintaining our lives as busy theatre professionals. We generally produce in the spring and in the fall, book-ending the busy Berkshire summer season.
It’s hard enough just to raise money to produce theatre, how does WAM theatre expect to do that and give money away with each event?
We are aware the model we are proposing is highly unusual, double philanthropy as it were. But, we feel compelled to find a way to uplift both the work of women and girls in the arts, and the lives of women and girls in the world. Our feeling is that when people gather to see theatre, there is, for that moment in time, a community that has been formed. We hope that this community will enjoy a great evening of theatre all the more knowing that some of the cost of the ticket will go to benefit women and girls both locally and worldwide.
Our ideal goal with each event would be to donate the amount of the funds raised to produce the event to the organization we have chosen to benefit. Our realistic goal is that the amount of money we can give after an event will vary depending on tickets sales, how many performances we do, the costs of producing the event, etc. Therefore, when we decide to whom we will donate proceeds, we will work with them to see about the various ways they can help to market our events and increase the percentage of tickets sold. The more tickets we sell, the more we can donate. We generally donate up to 25% of our box office proceeds to our beneficiaries.
We will announce the amount donated after the close of each event. So far, since launching in 2010, we have donated a total of over $15,500 to seven beneficiaries.
How will you decide which organization will benefit from your work?
Part of our work will be to research organizations thoroughly before we designate them as our next beneficiary. Our intention is to donate funds to organizations both in our local communities as well as worldwide. For our global beneficiaries, we will begin with the organizations highlighted in “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity Worldwide” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, which is the book that inspired WAM Theatre.
Our 2011 Beneficiaries: Berkshire United Way Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative for ‘The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls’ and Edna’s Hospital, specifically her Community Midwife Program, for ‘O Solo Mama Mia Festival’.
Our 2013 Beneficiary: The beneficiary for our November 2013 Northeast Regional Premiere of ‘Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight’ by Lauren Gunderson, was the Rites of Passage and Empowerment for Girls (ROPE) program, a local program founded by Pittsfield, MA community leader, Shirley Edgerton. The donation from WAM Theatre will be used to pay for a college trip of the Northeast for all ROPE members.
As part of the Half the Sky movement, one link that has already proven very useful to us is the following:
The state of women and girls worldwide is a heavy topic -Will WAM Theatre events be depressing?
Indeed the need is great, we have much work to do to protect women and girls and help them earn parity. We are theatre practitioners, committed to excellence and theatre can often be ironic and funny as well as tragic and sad. We are inspired by the courageous stories in HALF THE SKY: TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, which is the book that inspired WAM Theatre and work to find stories that are empowering and reinforce possibilities to turn oppression into opportunity.
Will WAM Theatre commission new theatre work by women?
Ideally, yes. In the future we hope to commission work by women in the theatre.
At the moment, we focus on presenting groundbreaking new works that have been produced elsewhere but are new to Berkshire audiences that tell women’s stories.
What other ideas does WAM Theatre have?
Book Swaps, Conferences for and Collaborations with Women Theatre Artists and Philanthropists, Guest Bloggers, these are only a few of our ideas for building a WAM Theatre community.
One example: Before you come to a WAM Theatre event, you grab a book or two that you’ve finished reading and are ready to part with and that, in some way, relates to the evening of WAM Theatre you are about to see. At the end of the night, or maybe at intermission, you go to the lobby and swap books with other audience members. Eventually you’ll go home with a new book or two to read. This idea came out of the fact that Kristen and Leigh were inspired by a book, HALF THE SKY: TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and that we are both total book worms!
Who is the WAM Theatre community?
The WAM Theatre community is one that believes in the education and empowerment of women and girls worldwide, one that thrives on being involved and staying informed, and one that is inspired by using the art of theatre to take action for women and girls worldwide.
We hope you will be part of that WAM Theatre community and we look forward to meeting and collaborating with you.