Part of American Voices New Play Institute Will Exit DC's Arena and Enter Boston's Emerson College

By Kenneth Jones
28 Dec 2011

Research programs of The American Voices New Play Institute (AVNPI), which have been under the roof of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, DC, will move to Emerson College's Office of the Arts in Boston beginning July 1, 2012.



The move of the "documentation and dissemination activities" of AVNPI is being made "to provide the research and academic setting these programs now need for their continued growth," Arena announced on Dec. 28.

Arena Stage associate artistic director David Dower will also move to Emerson in April 2012, and Institute director Polly Carl will join him in July.

In 2009, "as part of its commitment to the development and study of American theatre," Arena Stage launched the American Voices New Play Institute as a center for new play development. It is now "clear that in order to best serve the field, the research programs of the Institute would be best served in an academic setting independent from a producing entity so that findings and recommendations are not subject to any perceived, or real, conflicts of interest" with Arena.

The programs known as the New Play Map, #NewPlay TV, HowlRound and future convenings will move out of Arena. Through its early development, the Institute relied heavily upon Arena Stage's resources and infrastructure. Now that these programs are maturing, "those involving the documentation and dissemination of research are capable of transferring to a research-based institution with an environment more conducive to their future success."

Arena Stage will continue to house AVNPI's playwrights residency program, featuring resident playwrights Lisa Kron, Katori Hall, Charles Randolph-Wright, Amy Freed, Karen Zacarías and project residents Lynn Nottage and David Henry Hwang, as well as Theater 101, the Downstairs New Play Series, commissioning programs and audience engagement activities.

A spokesman for Arena told Playbill.com, "The majority of the costs of the various programs within the AVNPI, including the playwrights residency program, are covered by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, however a significant portion of the expenses are also covered by other funds raised by Arena Stage."

"Arena Stage is proud to have been an incubator for these wonderful young programs for the field of new play development," Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage, said in statement. "I have believed in them and championed them because I believe in the importance of living writers. I'm proud of David's work and Arena's work in creating these programs."

She added, "The documentation and dissemination programs of the American Voices New Play Institute have a more natural fit in an academic setting with a focus on research. Given Emerson College’s commitment to the arts, these programs have found a new home where they will continue to grow and flourish."

Lee Pelton, president of Emerson College, said in a statement, "Emerson is dedicated to bringing innovation to communications and the arts, and we are excited to apply the intellectual resources of the College to carry the Institute's research and communications programs forward."

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