What does WAM Stand for?
Written by Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven as part of her ‘What’s my #vision’ series.
February 7, 2016
Last night, in my opening remarks for ‘Facing Our Truth’, I said the following:
WAM Theatre is a place Where Arts and Activism Meet.
Our vision is to create opportunity for women and girls and we do that through our mission of theatre as philanthropy.
It felt GREAT to say that.
Because it finally gave me the answer to the question I get asked the most:
What does WAM stand for?
The WAM Team and Board have been thinking a lot lately about what WAM stands for, both literally and philosophically.
When WAM launched in 2010, WAM stood for ‘Women’s Action Movement’.
The book that inspired me to co-found WAM, Half the Sky, was a call to join the ‘movement’ and ‘take action’ for ‘women’- ergo our initial acronym.
Actually, to be honest, it was a BACRONYM (yes, I made that word up). Because, late one night in 2009, during one of our early WAM brainstorms, my husband Nick, a computer scientist and WAM’s first board president, was googling and came upon Whaam!, the Lichenstein pop art painting and we both said ‘WAM!”- yes! great energy! Love it! That’s it! The theatre could be called WAM Theatre!
And then we brainstormed what it could stand for….and Women’s Action Movement felt right.
And it WAS right for our beginnings…..and, in many ways, it continues to be right as we are still taking action for women as part of the larger movement towards gender parity.
But, as the year’s passed, that acronym didn’t feel like it truly captured ALL we do with theatre as philanthropy….so for the past couple of years, we’ve been saying WAM doesn’t stand for anything.
Well- that’s completely unsatisfying. For us and for our advocates.
And, as one of our board members said at our last meeting, it’s also a total conversation stopper.
WAM is not a conversation stopper.
WAM is a conversation starter.
Because WAM stands for lots of things!
We stand for opportunity, equality, activism, for theatre, storytelling, empathy, for integrity, respect, honesty….
We took a survey last year, asking people how they would describe WAM to their friends. Below are all the adjectives that occur more than once in the survey feedback. They are ordered – meaning adjectives at the top are most frequent.
SO, what does WAM actually stand for now…?
On a walk late last year, this came to me:
Where Arts and Activism Meet
We don’t have two ‘A’s- but YES! We are where arts and activism meet. We are using theatre as our art and philanthropy as our activism.
As for CREATING OPPORTUNITY for WOMEN and GIRLS, which is our raison d’etre?
Well- it came out last night in those opening remarks:
Where Arts and Activism Meet
Our vision is to create opportunity for women and girls.
We do that through our mission of theatre as philanthropy.
For me, as we enter our seventh year, that’s what WAM stands for, both literally and philosophically.
February 8, 2016