Art + Information + Conversation = Social Change: A Model for Financially Viable Theater

ISSN/ISBN : 1480-8986
Pages : 4-12

Product: Article

$21.00 CA

Ariel Fristoe, Wesley Longacre

Ariel Fristoe is the founder and Artistic Director of Out of Hand Theater, winner of The New York Times Best Theater of 2020 and the Governor’s Award in the Arts and Humanities 2021. She uses the tools of theater to advance social justice through pro­grams that combine theater and film with informa­tion and conversation. Ariel produces Equitable Dinners – city-wide conversa­tions on racial equity over dinner, launched by short plays – and Shows in Homes addressing social justice issues. Through Creative Kids, she helps close the opportunity gap for low-income students through free school programs. Ariel is a graduate of Leader­ship Atlanta, Regional Leadership Institute and Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta, and a LINK Trip delegate. The AJC named her an Everyday Hero in 2022, and Georgia Trend named her one of Georgia’s 500 Most Influential Leaders in 2023. She teaches Arts Management at Emory University.
Wesley Longacre received his PhD in Theatre from the University of Colorado-Boulder, completing his dissertation in the spring of 2017. He was named a Richter Scholar at Wake Forest University where he received his MA in English Literature and holds a BA in Journalism and Political Science from Baylor University. He is an active theater scholar and practitioner, having recently directed university and regional productions of The Normal Heart, She Kills Monsters, Our Town, Rabbit Hole, and Red. Wesley has also served as a dramaturg and assistant director for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival production of Wittenberg. He is currently an Instructor of Theatre at Colorado State University and has previously served as an Instructor of Theatre at the University of Colorado and in CSU’s Honors Program. Wesley has previously served as a regular contributor and bibliographer for The Thornton Wilder Journal and an editor for PARtake: The Journal of Performance as Research.

In a time when theater companies are struggling after the COVID-19 pandemic, how is Atlanta’s Out of Hand Theater booming? Echoing frameworks of Arts-Based Community Engagement and Business Model Innovation in the arts, Out of Hand produces theater on social issues for and with community partners. Their programs combine theater with other social interactions and take place in homes, businesses, schools and houses of worship. Pairing theater with information and conversation increases understanding, empathy and action around social justice, raises their visibility, and provides new income streams, making theater financially viable and increasing its community value while serving the greatest community needs.
Theater; social justice; collaborations; community; revenue; business model