NPAC feels like the most gigantic family reunion ever; the folks you see regularly are all in attendance, but so are the distant cousins you’ve heard all those stories about over the years, not to mention relatives you didn’t even know about. There is a fascinating person to meet around every corner! I am definitely adding Anna Deavere Smith and Jim Collins to my ultimate dinner party guest list.
Over the past three days we have been gathering together to concoct a plan for the future of the performing arts in the U.S. Needless to say, there are so many issues on the table, and they are being discussed with stunning passion and intelligence. I am amazed at the ability of the caucus facilitators (one for every 6-10 people) to condense these exchanges about audiences, performance space, inclusiveness, marketing, you-name-it, into a few short sentences that accurately reflect the previous several minutes of talk.
After we finish each session, that information is handed over to a group I now think of as the “Caucus Elves.” They work through the night, sifting through the data and identifying common themes and recurring threads that will comprise the next day’s conversation.
Most inspiring and unexpected is watching people working in radically different fields, such as the leader of a guerilla theater group and the development director of a major symphony orchestra (I kid you not), sitting together at the same table, finding that their wish lists for the future of their art forms are not so terribly different, and engaging in meaningful discussion about how to arrive at that situation. Regardless of the outcome of this larger process, positive change is clearly taking place.