Message from CTFA President, Suzan Zeder

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Our world has never been more in need of what theatre artists and teachers can contribute.
April 2018

Dear Colleagues and Friends
When I was a very young playwright I received a grant from The Children’s Theatre Foundation of America to begin work on a new play for young audiences. It was the first grant I had ever received. While the amount was relatively modest, the impact on my life was enormous and set me on a path that has sustained me as an artist, a teacher and a human being.

Four decades and thirty plays later, I am honored to serve as President of The Board of Directors for CTFA to continue the work of my predecessors to “challenge and support theatre artists to achieve excellence in service to young people.” CTFA has grown and changed a great deal over the past sixty years. We continue to give grants to artists and organizations, to bestow awards to those doing remarkable work in theatre and drama for young people, to provide support for inspirational speakers and provocative convening at major national theatre conferences, but we are placing increasing emphasis on advocacy, accessibility, and activism. We are dedicated not only to being an organization that celebrates and supports excellence and innovation in TYA, but a force for social change in our world and in our field.

Thanks, in large part to the inspired leadership of Past President Roger Bedard, CTFA has vowed to focus our resources on supporting organizations and artists actively and overtly committed to “dismantling structural and institutional racism” in their work and their communities.

Our world has never been more in need of what theatre artists and teachers can contribute. Theatre reaches across the many divides that separate us, personally, politically and spiritually. Making theatre for and with young people has the capacity to reach across economic divides, gender divides, generational divides, and the divides within ourselves. We are preoccupied by all the forces that polarize us and result in anger, violence, frustration, and despair. But we have gifts to help to heal those rifts. As artists and teachers, we must use those gifts, not just to entertain, but to awaken the forces of social change.

In her book, The Great Tide Rising: Towards Clarity and Moral Courage in a Time of Planetary Change, ecologist and philosopher, Kathleen Dean Moore, enumerates the gifts that artists possess that bring comfort and change to their communities:

The gift of memory: To remember our world and the stories of our past.
The gift of imagination: to reimagine ancient stories of the earth and dream new dreams.
The gift of wonder: The supremely human capacity for astonishment.
The gift of audience: The invitation to come and tell others what is most important to us.

To these I add:
The gift of collaboration: to join with those who share passion and vision.
The gift of new beginnings: each new play, project, program brings the possibility of renewal.
The gift of endings: We leave the imaginal world and take the lessons learned, the feelings felt, the courage and the wisdom of our experience into our own lives.

Please join me in supporting CTFA and in cherishing your own gifts as we walk together into a future made by our hands with, for and about our children!