Expanding the circle

July 31st, 2012 by arwen

I spent the month of July doing some freelance grant writing for two local arts organizations in Orlando that I have never worked with before. First up was Voci Dance, my favorite dance company in town whose work I’ve supported for years as an audience member. I helped Voci prepare an application for a new multi-media performance piece that is going to rock Orlando’s performance scene when it opens (sorry no spoilers!) – they sought project support from United Arts of Central Florida*, the local arts agency that (in my opinion) does a tremendous service to the local community through its grants and programs.

*Full disclosure: I was a member of the Literary & Performing Arts review panel for United Arts’ 2012 Individual Artist Development grant program and helped award 20 local artists direct support for their work totaling over $30,000. It was a hugely valuable experience for me and I was honored to volunteer my time to serve.

My second new client was The Mennello Museum of American Art, a City of Orlando-owned museum that houses the permanent collection of Earl Cunningham, a Florida “primitive” (meaning self-taught) artist who was a seaman & ship’s captain by trade. I worked with their staff to prepare a big proposal for the Orange County Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs in support of a large scale exhibition of never-before-seen work by Cunningham, Rob Storter and Eugene Savage. Storter is a FL native who is self-taught like Cunningham and Eugene Savage is an American master muralist from the WPA-era who taught at Yale University for many years. What brings them together is that they all documented the Seminole Tribes in their natural environment – the wonderland that is Everglades – during times of major urban development and environmental destruction. There will be Seminole art and artifacts included in the show on loan from a local collector as well.

I absolutely loved working on this grant because I am a bit of a history buff and my research wove together local & international history in contrast with environmental and art history in a very profound way for me. These artists were driven to paint and document what they saw by the rapid industrialization that was occurring and how it impacted the native people and environment they lived in and depended on. Given that 2013 marks the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida and the recent federal commitment to cleaning up the Everglades due to industrial pollution, it is a fitting time for such an important exhibit to be made available to residents and visitors of Central Florida. Talk about a cultural excursion in contrast to the usual Disney trip…!

Florida is more than just sunshine and agriculture as these two great organizations prove.

Investing in my skills to pay the bills

May 24th, 2012 by arwen

I am a huge continuing education advocate. One of the best things I’ve done while living in Orlando is pursue formal training in fundraising, philanthropy and development to broaden my knowledge and understanding of the field at large since all of my experience has been specific to the arts sector.

Fortunately for me, I discovered a fantastic resource in Central Florida for nonprofit management advice, fundraising best practices, continuing education programs and access to professional consultants. It is the Rollins College Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership Center, housed within the Crummer Graduate School of Business.

I’ve been taking classes in pursuit of a Certificate of Fundraising and Development, which I am proud to say I received yesterday. The teaching staff at the Center are absolutely top-notch and for all Central Florida nonprofits, this is a tremendous community asset. Nonprofit professionals and volunteers can join as a member (which I did) and receive even more benefits, including discounted tuition.

I learned so much by taking these classes, which included many hands-on activities working through real world scenarios that we regularly face as professionals – from proper income classification to ethical quandaries relating to donor intent. I am so thankful that a place like the Center exists here and that I was able to complete this program in just under a year.

PS: It’s been too long since last I blogged and the reason is simply this: Life got in the way. Great and terrible things have happened and blogging is what I allowed to “fall of the table”.  In the last year, I met the man of my dreams whom I am marrying next month, but our joy has been tempered by suffering the unexpected deaths of both his Mom & Dad. During this time I’ve also been traveling almost monthly between Florida and NYC to participate in a strategic planning program through The Kennedy Center for Incubator Arts Project. I will be posting regularly again soon.



Backyard BBQ Benefit at Incubator Arts Project

July 5th, 2011 by Arwen Lowbridge
Please join me for one of the most fun and laid back fundraising events you will ever be invited to. Although I recently relocated to Florida, I will be in NYC for this event.

The Incubator Arts Project hosts its notorious annual BBQ Benefit this Saturday July 9th. Doors open at 8pm and the entry price gets you all you can EAT & DRINK with our staff slaving away over grills & kegs to satisfy. All proceeds directly benefit the Incubator Arts Project which is presenting its second full season of original, experimental work made by local artists.

$20 in advance (no CC fees!) and $25 at the door. The party starts outside with grilling & chilling and then we move inside to dance it all off once the midnight hour strikes.

This is a special opportunity to hang out in the gardens and grounds of the landmark St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery while mixing & mingling with some of the most exciting up-and-coming performing artists anywhere in NYC. The Church & Theater are located at 131 East 10th Street at 2nd Avenue in the East Village.

You can buy advanced tickets online here. And if you can’t make it to the event but would like to support Incubator Arts Project by making a tax deductible contribution, you can do that here.

When the old becomes new again

May 23rd, 2011 by Arwen Lowbridge

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere lately because I’ve been focused on some big life changes.

Most notably, I left NYC in April to relocate to sunny Florida. Having spent more than 15 years in the Big Apple left me exhausted and needing a break from city life. I made some wonderful friends in Central Florida a decade ago when I lived here the first time, so it made sense to return when wondering where to go next.

Never content to move across the country without going into production at EXACTLY the same time, I am thrilled to share that I am working as Assistant Visual Fringe Producer for the 20th anniversary year of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival (now officially the longest running Fringe festival in the USA!).   I’ve been affiliated with Fringe in a few different ways over the years – first as a local show Producer and presenting partner, next as the festival Grant Writer and more recently I was the Production Manager for an out of town show that toured here from NY.

This being the 20th anniversary, we have more fun & fringy stuff happening throughout Loch Haven Park than ever before. Some basic festival info in case you are in the Central Florida and can come catch the insanity:

The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival is a 12-day-festival that is founded on the concept of offering 100% unjuried, 100% uncensored, 100% accessible theatre, music, dance, art and madness to all types and ages where 100% of the box office ticket sales go directly back to the artists within The Fringe. The Orlando Fringe is the longest running US Fringe festival. The mission of the Orlando Fringe is to provide an accessible, affordable outlet that draws diverse elements of the community together and inspires creative excellence through the arts.

The Fringe is held in beautiful Loch Haven Park, just north of downtown Orlando, at Princeton Street and Mills Avenue. The shows are in various theaters at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando Repertory Theatre and some outdoor or ad-hoc sites; most of the venues are identified by colors May 18-30. Box-office hours on weekdays are 4 p.m.-midnight; on weekends, 10 a.m.-midnight.

Like the theatre portion of the festival, Visual Fringe is uncensored, unjuried and 100% of the money made in sales is given to the artists. The 2011 Visual Fringe will feature both emerging artists and established artists mainly from Central Florida.  It offers Fringe-goers a chance to see artwork they do not normally have access to and features artists creating their work live in the gallery. A primary goal of Visual Fringe is for patrons and artists to interact and all mediums of artwork are encouraged: painting, photography, sculpture, multi-media, installation, drawing, collage, jewelry, conceptual, abstract, figurative, pastoral, comedic, stoic, you name it.

If you live in Central Florida and have never “done the Fringe”, you should do yourself a favor and check it out before it disappears on 5/30/11.

Now that I am somewhat settled in my new home, city & state, I promise more timely updates on all things Arwen going forward. And I am still working remotely as Development Director for Incubator Arts Project, my favorite downtown NYC performance venue and will be returning to NYC periodically during the year so NY friends, do not despair. I am not gone, just farther away…

Back in the producing saddle with Feeder: A Love Story

February 26th, 2011 by arwen

I am thrilled to be working on a fantastic new play that is being produced by terraNOVA Collective at HERE. It is a beautiful love story that examines a normal couple involved in a sexual fetish lifestyle known as feederism.

When I read the play the first time, I was really challenged by the subject matter. It forced me to take time to examine my beliefs and assumptions surrounding all kinds of issues like love & intimate relationships, personal definition of “health”, body types & self-perception, self-love and self-acceptance, food & diet, and especially the media’s role in reinforcing negative body-type prejudices, stereotypes and bias. And anytime a project challenges me and causes me to think about something as much as this did, I know I have to be involved.

The show runs from March 6-26 – tickets are available here. We are having two special events which are brief post-show discussions that I will be moderating after the Monday night performances on 3/14 and 3/21. We have lined up special guests to participate and will be discussing transmedia storytelling on the 14th and Fat Acceptance on 3/21. The discussions are free for any ticket buyer so if you see the show and want to return for either event, please join us.

February workshop: Project Proposals & Pitches

January 14th, 2011 by Arwen Lowbridge

In February I will be teaching a four week workshop for The Field, one of my favorite arts service organizations in NYC. If you are interested, full details & registration information is below. This will be a working group tailored to serve attendees individually as much as possible, so I encourage you to enroll if you’d like some direct feedback on existing materials or guidance for future projects.

This four-part workshop covers the tools needed to garner support from institutions, appeal to venues and producers, and write/talk effectively about your work. It gives an introduction to proposal writing with a focus on project descriptions, how work samples are handled in panel, and how you can put your best foot forward. We’ll cover pitching the work and building relationships with theaters and funders alike; best practices for seeking opportunities and for following up on leads.  Throughout the workshop participants will develop and receive feedback on their own materials.

The dates are Thursdays 6:30-9pm, Feb 3, 10, 17, 24. The cost is $160 for non-members, $100 for Field members and you can enroll here.

End of the year update

December 6th, 2010 by arwen

Apparently Heraclitus is the philosopher responsible for my favorite adage about life: The only constant is change.

For a variety of reasons, I recently needed some change so I decided to head south for a few months this winter. I have temporarily transplanted myself to a lovely little garden apartment at a friend’s house on the Gulf coast of Florida. I will return to NYC in February, so I won’t completely escape winter’s chill, but every little bit counts. I’ve dubbed myself the youngest snowbird in FL and the seniors seem to agree.

I am still doing my part to keep the independent theater community in NYC rolling along – albeit remotely for a few months. Here is some recent news that I am happy to share about what will be keeping me busy through the holidays and into early 2011.

In September, I became the Development Director for the Incubator Arts Project. This excites me because I have a particular passion for start-ups trying to make their way in the world of legacy arts institutions. I worked with the Incubator during its previous incarnation as a program of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater Inc. and I have a huge place in my heart for the upstairs theater at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery made famous by Richard Foreman. This is a big year for us and I am proud to be part of the team making it happen.

In February 2011, I will be teaching a four week workshop at The Field focused on how to prepare competitive proposals for funding agencies, residencies, presenting organizations – basically, getting your pitch together for the many powers-that-be who can help you along the way. I will post again with more info when details have been set.

I also have two more producing projects in the works – both are happening in Manhattan in March 2011.

One is a fascinating new play titled “Feeder: A Love Story” being produced by terraNOVA Collective. You can find some teaser info about it on the Kickstarter page that was set up to help fund the show. I am thrilled to be working with terraNOVA for the first time and think this play is incredibly provocative – I can’t wait to see the audience response.

My other project is the hotINK Festival of International Play Readings (formerly housed at Tisch School of the Arts). In an exciting development for 2011, hotINK will be produced at The Lark Play Development Center. The new, upcoming hotINK Festival will present work by 8-10 playwrights from outside the United States in readings from March 24-28, 2011.

I will surely post again with more details as these events approach. Since the holiday mayhem is fast upon us, I will take the time now to wish you all the best & happiest of holidays & a joyful New Year.

Fierce, free and fleeting

September 27th, 2010 by arwen

My final producing project of 2010 runs this week at CUNY’s Graduate Center – it is the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center‘s annual Prelude Festival.

PRELUDE.10: Techniques for Live Stimulation is this Wednesday 9/29 – Friday 10/1 from 3pm – 10pm each day. The Grad Center is located in Midtown Manhattan at 34th & Fifth Avenue.

Here is what it is all about:

PRELUDE.10 asks the blunt question: Why Does Live Matter?

Join us for participatory art sessions, sneak-peak excerpt presentations, live writing, and round-table chats as we investigate different techniques each day: Communication, Provocation, and Simulation. The festival also includes SPOTLIGHT: CATALONIA presented in association with The Institut Ramon Llull with support from Sala Beckett.

Our participating artists comprise a stellar array of individuals and ensembles (in my obviously biased opinion).

* on Wednesday, we explore COMMUNICATION with: The PRELUDE.10 Live Writers, Joyce Cho, Ugly Duckling Presse, Robert Quillen Camp, Hoi Polloi and Sylvan Oswald, Trajal Harrell, and The TEAM

* on Thursday, we address PROVOCATION with: HERE, Aaron Landsman, The Field‘s ERPA Artists, OurGoods.org, Jim Findlay, Julie Atlas Muz, Penny Arcade and Ishmael Houston-Jones

* on Friday, we feature SPOTLIGHT: CATALONIA and investigate SIMULATION with Joe Silovsky, Kimon Keramidas, Reid Farrington, Andrew Schneider, Reggie Watts, and a video from DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid

The festival is FREE with no reservations – strictly first come, first served. Activity sessions occur each afternoon, performances and round-table discussions follow in the evening and late night we journey to the local watering hole to continue our conversations and raise a glass together.

You can view the schedule, read about our artists or learn more about the afternoon’s activities online or by stopping by the Grad Center anytime during festival hours.

Will you join us?

Two critics agree…decide for yourself

September 6th, 2010 by arwen

Like a proud mom, I can’t stop gushing about the show I’m producing. Vision Disturbance is a new play written by Christina Masciotti, presented by the New York City Players and directed by Richard Maxwell.

Folks in the media are starting to comment now that we’ve completed our first week. There is a great profile written about Christina, our playwright. I am also happy to thank Culturebot for its love and share what is officially my first NY Times review.

Two more weeks of shows are running at Abrons Arts Center from Wed – Sat at 8pm through Sept 18. Tickets available here for $18.

In my own words, I would describe the show as “an understated and heartfelt meditation on perception & transformation”.

Other people’s words include:

“A lovely, resourceful and unexpected coup de theatre…inspired and inventive…a showcase for Ms. Masciotti’s gift for writing.”- Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“a thoroughly enjoyable evening in the theater and a reminder that, sometimes, all you need is…strong actors and good, insightful writing”- Andy Horwitz, culturebot.com

You can read more about the show here.

Seating is limited so if you plan to attend, I suggest you get tickets sooner than later. You will understand why when you see it…and that is all I will say about that.

Vision Disturbance

August 25th, 2010 by Arwen Lowbridge

Blog silence of late is the result of a super-hectic producing schedule. I’ve been busy working with Richard Maxwell’s New York City Players to produce a new play opening next week at the historic playhouse in Henry St. Settlement’s Abrons Arts Center.

From our press release:

A new play by Christina Masciotti, Vision Disturbance is about two people whose structured lives suddenly fall apart and who are vehemently looking to find new ground and belonging.

In Vision Disturbance, Mondo, a middle-aged Greek immigrant woman living in smalltown Pennsylvania, is going through a divorce from her traditional, Greek husband. The resulting stress detonates an eye disorder that features a loss of depth perception among other perplexing symptoms. She seeks treatment from Dr. Hull who uses an unorthodox approach involving music therapy to help her regain her eyesight.

Vision Disturbance features Linda Mancini as Mondo and Jay Smith as Dr. Hull. The set and lighting design is by Adrian W. Jones, costumes by Victoria Vazquez, and sound design by Ben Williams.

The play starts September 1st and runs through September 18, Wed-Sat, 8pm at Abrons Arts Center, located 466 Grand Street in New York City. Tickets are $18 and may be purchased by calling 212.352.3101 or at www.theatermania.com.

Vision Disturbance
Written by Christina Masciotti
Directed by Richard Maxwell
80 minutes, without intermission

Wed- Sat, September 1- 18, 2010, 8:00pm
Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, NYC
Tickets: $18 | For tickets call: 212.352.3101 or www.theatermania.com

I know Christina from my days at Fractured Atlas and I was thrilled when NYCP asked me to produce the show, which has been in development for about two years. We had a reading at New York Theatre Workshop last May, after being featured in CUNY’s 2009 Prelude Festival.

I love this play, we have an amazing cast & crew and I am so proud to be working on it. There are production elements that excite me so much I want to spill the beans about them here & now, but I won’t. To do so would ruin the experience, so you’ll just have to come down and see for yourself. We have limited seats available (hint hint) so don’t miss it!