WAM Theatre is a professional theatre company based in Berkshire County, MA, USA, that operates at the intersection of arts and activism. WAM creates theatre for gender equity and has a vision of theatre as philanthropy. 

In fulfillment of its philanthropic mission, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from their Mainstage productions to carefully selected beneficiaries. Since WAM’s founding in 2010, they have donated more than $75,000 to 19 local and global organizations taking action for gender equity in areas such as girls education, teen pregnancy prevention, sexual trafficking awareness, midwife training, and more. 

In addition to Mainstage productions and special events, WAM’s activities include innovative community engagement programs and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. To date, WAM has provided paid work to more than 400 theatre artists, the majority of whom are female-identifying.

As a civic organization that embraces intersectional feminism (feminism that acknowledges how multiple forms of discrimination overlap), WAM understands that to address one piece of systemic discrimination means we have to address them all. This is on-going personal and professional work at WAM for the staff and board.

WAM Theatre has been widely recognized for having a positive impact on cultural and community development in the region. WAM is the recipient of the Creative Economy Standout Berkshire Trendsetter Award and previously, was named Outstanding Philanthropy Corporation of the Year by the Western MA Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM’s Producing Artistic Director, was honored by the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association (BTCA) with the prestigious Larry Murray Award, presented at the discretion of the BTCA Board to a person or theatre project that advances social, political, or community issues in Berkshire County. 

Background

In 2010 co-founders  Kristen van Ginhoven (WAM Artistic Director) and Leigh Strimbeck (Theatre Professional) read the book HALF THE SKY: TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and it inspired them to found WAM Theatre as a way to use theatre as philanthropy for women and girls.

“Half the Sky” invites people to ‘join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women’s power as economic catalysts’. WAM Theatre is one way we are joining the movement and taking action.

Our Name

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. As we grow, we realize that we are also a civic institution that creates theatre for gender equity. 

Read this blog from our co-founder, Kristen van Ginhoven, to learn about the evolution of what WAM stands for, literally and philosophically:  Kristen’s blog

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:

http://www.soroptimist.org/whywomen/whywomen.html

Click on the link below to read inspiring stories of women who have turned oppression into opportunity:

http://halftheskymovement.org/stories

WAM Theatre community (WAMily)

Our WAMily 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 our WAMily. We look forward to meeting and collaborating with you.