Dartmouth Lecturer and Northern Stage Producing Artistic Director Carol Dunne has recently been tapped to lead an unprecedented new program to support women artistic directors in professional theaters across the United States. Privately funded by the Pussycat Foundation, the BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle will provide $1.25 million in grants in support for Northern Stage and four other theaters run by women artistic directors during the 2018-2019 season.
According to a recent study conducted by the Wellesley Centers for Women, women have never held more than 27% of leadership positions in the American regional theater. The BOLD Circle's mission is to create a network of women artistic directors in professional theaters across the United States and to empower them to address the issues preventing women from advancing in theater leadership. The BOLD Circle will offer major support of artistic initiatives focused on women artists and will create a formal mentorship program to train and prepare future women artistic directors to lead, to create, to innovate, and to deepen the impact of theater on American culture.
"My own experiences helped inspire this program, and I am so grateful the Pussycat Foundation recognizes the need for major change for women in theater," Dunne says. "I became an artistic director at age 42 after acting and directing for many years, and have worked to turn around two theater companies that were running out of resources and time. In doing so, I never had the budget to join national organizations like LORT or TCG, or hire an assistant, or focus on the development of larger new work like musicals, or even get away to see others' work because of the incredible pressures of running a non-profit theater. I know countless women in theater who have felt disconnected from each other due to geographical distance and financial constraints. This grant will connect us all, support our vision and embolden us to take on some of the challenges facing women in the theater.
The Pussycat Foundation is a private operating foundation in New York, New York, and is the philanthropic legacy of the late Helen Gurley Brown, founding editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. In the 2018-2019 season, this one-year pilot program will allow the five BOLD Circle theaters to work together to document the program, convene the participants for shared creative opportunities, hire and mentor aspiring Artistic Directors in the BOLD Circle Associate Director program, and begin to address the issues preventing women from advancing to artistic director positions.
Professor Dunne has been on the faculty at Dartmouth College since 2005, where her courses include Acting I, Acting II, and Acting for Musical Theater. She is currently directing the department's Fall 2017 MainStage production of Cabaret.