On Monday, January 9, actor and arts education advocate Ben Vereen presented our Director of Artistic Programming Mary Rose Lloyd with the William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming. Mary received this honor from her peers at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, the world's largest forum of international presenters, artists, managers, agents and arts leaders. We applaud her remarkable achievement in redefining quality performing arts for young people through her 20 years of spirited, revelatory and bold curatorial work at The New Victory Theater. These are her remarks on the importance of quality theatrical programming for kids.
L to R: Laurie Anderson, Mikki Shepherd, APAP Board Chair Dr. Michael Blachly, Mary Rose Lloyd, APAP President and CEO Mario Garcia Durham, Laura Colby, Michele Roberge
I am, on behalf of the entire New Victory Theater team, so deeply honored to receive an artistic programming award from this group who I revere so much and with whom I've been a part since my grad school days in the 90s. (When I was 14 of course.)
Back then I didn't really know what a presenter was until I was lucky enough to get to work with Joe Melillo at BAM and learn from the absolute very best. As a mentor, Joe opened my eyes to the possibilities of curating wonderful work for specific spaces...matching artists to venues & communities, both nationally and internationally. My experience as a presenter grew even more meaningful when I was hired by the remarkable Cora Cahan, President of the New 42nd Street. The New Victory Theater is one of seven historic theaters located between 7th and 8th Avenues, theaters which comprise the whole of the "New" 42nd Street, here in New York. Cora and the Board of the New 42 had the original vision to establish, in one of those theaters, what was–incredibly–missing from the landscape of New York culture–a theater dedicated solely to presenting the very best work from around the world for young audiences and families.
Now, here, well over 20 years later, it means so much to us, and to the entire field of live arts for young people, that the New Victory is being honored for our artistic programming in this incredibly important field. As a matter of fact, this whole week there has seen a swelling of passionate conversation around the importance of quality performing arts in the lives of children. From the APAP/IPAY pre-conference workshop last Thursday led by the inspiring Sarah McCarthy and Boomer Stacey, to the 6th annual conversation on theater for young audiences led by the indomitable Monique Martin on Friday, to the weekend symposium on #CreatingQualityTYA co-hosted by the American Alliance of Theater Educators and the New Victory, topped off today, where focus is placed on artistic excellence in programming for young audiences. I have collaborated with this tribe of indefatigable heroes and advocates for the creation of compelling performing arts for people of all ages.
Mary Rose Lloyd with Ben Vereen
Here's the bottom line: it is our job to support, make and/or present bold, extraordinary, visionary work for young audiences. Work that tells their stories and reflects their worlds. Every child has the right to have access to this work now, I'd offer, more than ever. It is vital the we champion the building of and caring for our children's humanity, their ability to feel empathy and to be curious about their fellow, global citizens of this world. The platform of theater is a great way to do this. Not only to create "future" audiences, but to also respect the intelligence and the imaginations of young people now, and make work for them to absorb now. We must reflect in this work the diversity of our children, celebrate our differences, so that everyone, every child over these next few years, whether gay, straight, trans, black, white, Latino, mid-western, southern, east or west coast feels they have an equal place in this world and can utilize the power of artistic expression to fight ignorance. So spread the word. Encourage our best, brightest, most incendiary artists that there need not be a demarcation line between the quality or the intensity of work made for adults as that made for young people.
In closing, I'll just say that you’re most likely a fan of the New Vic because when you were young you were either a part of a show, in an audience of a show or were part of a family who provided cultural experiences for their children. Don't lose sight of that child you once were. Take that child into the great, good work you do and connect with the youngest folks in your audiences to the end of your–and their–imaginations and back.
||Read more about Mary Rose Lloyd in a blog celebrating her 20 incredible years at The New Victory Theater!