A curious observer might wonder why a new charitable foundation with an otherwise clear emphasis on supporting vulnerable communities and the nonprofit organizations that serve them has designated preservation of New England’s cultural and environmental heritage as its fourth priority funding track.
Access to the Arts and Nature Is an Essential Part of Healing
For the Foundation Trust, this decision was obvious. Access to nature, culture and the arts is an essential but often overlooked component of healing, recovery and healthy development for human beings of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. This realization moved the Foundation Trust to commence what will hopefully be a long-term partnership with the Greater Boston Stage Company (GBSC)– an award-winning regional theater in its 18th season located in Stoneham, Massachusetts.
Dr. Joseph Spinazzola, Executive Director of the Foundation Trust explains “Of all the arts, none span generations and open lines of communication across communities more so than the theater arts.” Consequently, supporting the Greater Boston Stage Company was an obvious choice for the Foundation Trust on multiple levels.
Dr. Spinazzola elaborates:
“The Company’s fastidious selection of diverse, socially relevant, and gripping plays give voice to critically important cultures and subcultures in America that have often silently co-existed for decades only to periodically violently collide precisely because they lack safe venues to come together and make themselves known to each other in a meaningful way that can ultimately transcend fear and misunderstanding through joy and laughter.”
“Second, the GBSC works hard to serve as a conduit for and convener of community involvement across the lifespan, from their array of year-round classes and festivals for children and youth to their active efforts to engage and sustain the connection of sometimes otherwise isolated elders to their larger community through the theater. Ultimately, our Foundation’s mission across all its priority tracks is to help children, adults and communities impacted by trauma, hardship, impairment and other life adversities to not just survive but thrive. Sponsoring programming offered by the Greater Boston Stage Company embodies this goal and simultaneously champions the voices and perspectives of many of the same marginalized communities that our other tracks serve.”
Leaders from the Greater Boston Stage Company echo the importance of these goals. Per Weylin Symes, Artistic Director at GBSC,
“The Foundation Trust’s support of live theatre helps to build and strengthen community by making it possible for people of all ages and walks of life to gather for shared experiences – something all too rare in today’s world.”
Adds Jim Oosterman, President of the Board of Trustees at GBSC,
“Live, professional theatre is one piece of the artistic fabric that makes our communities vibrant and improves both the social and business welfare where we live and work. Our theatre brings people into our community and helps build up the other businesses in the area, too. When one business or organization in our locality is successful, others are able to draw off that strength and also succeed.”
Mr. Symes further explains the importance of supporting “straight theater” (aka dramatic plays) versus musicals:
“In a time when non-musical theatre is harder and harder to come by and less and less financially viable, the Foundation Trust’s specific support of our dramatic programming truly helps to keep the art of theatre alive and relevant in today’s world. Their support allows us to continue to share stories that reflect the world around us with our communities – stories like “Unveiled” that shows us the point of view of five Moslem women in a post-9/11 world. These stories look at our world today and allow our patrons to be exposed to ideas and stories they would otherwise not be able to experience.”
Season 18 Opens with “Miss Holmes”, (a Female Sherlock)
Beginning in Season 18 with Miss Holmes, a timely and ingenious re-envisioning of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic featuring a female Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the Foundation Trust will serve as a Platinum Sponsor of at least one dramatic play per season, and will begin to explore the potential of forming a more substantive partnership with Greater Boston Stage Company to work together in innovative ways to bridge communities and shift developmental trajectories for at risk children and youth. Concludes Weylin Sims, “Theatre can’t survive without the support of generous donors like the Foundation Trust.”
Miss Holmes runs from April 5-22. For tickets and more information about the Greater Boston Stage Company, visit www.greaterbostonstage.org.