Berkshire Leadership Summit
This first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit is informed and supported by research that American Conservatory Theater commissioned from the Wellesley Centers for Women.
In August 2016, the results of research on why there is a gender imbalance in leadership of non-profit regional theater were presented by Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) at the Women’s Leadership Conference in San Francisco at American Conservatory Theater. WAM Theatre Artistic Director, Kristen van Ginhoven, was an early supporter of the study and attended the conference. The HowlRound blogpost about the study can be found here.
Inspired by that conference, the idea was born to create The Berkshire Leadership Summit, a pilot, two-day event, for women aspiring to leadership positions in the non-profit theatre in both the artistic and operational tracks.
This pilot Summit will provide deep dive, nuts and bolts sessions into four areas that female theater professionals identified as main barriers to leadership positions. This Summit continues the work of shifting consciousness and perception around women and leadership in the non-profit theatre world.
The Summit has three central aims: providing participants with an experience that grows their network of allies, enriching vocabulary that supports the current industry while advocating for their future as women leaders, and expanding concrete skills to apply on their path to leadership.
With this in mind, the Summit will focus on these four key areas:
- Fundraising – eg. the ability to go from a $200,000 company to a $2,000,000 company
- Producing – eg. the ability to produce a high budget event from the ground up
- Relationship Building- eg. the opportunity to meet the people who work at the theatres that will hire you for leadership positions
- Awareness Building | Creating Opportunity- eg. deep dive into what is needed to shift the consciousness and perception around women and leadership?
The Summit also aims to offer shorter working sessions around other areas identified in the study and at the conference as barriers to leadership including:
- Interviewing: exploring the vocabulary of the current world
- Search firm process: advocating for your future
- Reading a financial report/balance sheet
- Building relationships/Working effectively with your board
- Strategic Planning
- Defending your artistic choices
- Intersectionality- including it in the room
- Where is the feminine in leadership?
- Who is your coalition?
- What is the financial impact of women’s leadership?
- What do you bring into the room that distinguishes you as a leader?
We acknowledge gender discrimination is a complex topic. As a first step, this inaugural two-day pilot Summit is targeted to people who navigate the field as women (eg. transgender, cisgender, gender non-conforming) in early to mid-career who are theatre professionals on the path to leadership.
Stay tuned for more details on this first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit coming soon…..
“We see the operation of a glass ceiling, a metaphor for the barriers facing women stuck at middle management where they can see the top but cannot reach it.” WCW Study
The Berkshire Leadership Summit Steering Committee includes Kristen van Ginhoven, Artistic Director of WAM Theatre; Akiba Abaka, Audience Development Manager at ArtsEmerson; Rachel Fink, Managing Director of Theatre Bay Area; and Shafer Mazow, who currently works at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and was a lead developer and organizer of the Women’s Leadership Project and convening.
AKIBA ABAKA (Steering Committee) is the audience development manager at ArtsEmerson. A distinguished director, dramatist, producer, actor and arts educator, Ms. Abaka has over 20 years of experience in bringing theater to diverse communities throughout Greater Boston. As a practitioner she is committed to utilizing theater for the purpose of community development and civic transformation. Her service to the field include; Lead Theater Teaching Artist, Citi Performing Arts Center; Board Member, Boston Children’s Theatre; Community Member, Boston Children’s Chorus Innovation Team; and Host Committee Co-chair, Theatre Communications Group National Conference.