The Women in the Arts and Media Coalition will honor Martha Richards, the Founder and President of WomenArts, with its 2020 Elsa Rael VintAge Award in an online ceremony on Saturday, November 14 from 12 noon- 2 p.m. Pacific Time (3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Eastern Time).
The award will celebrate Richards’ advocacy for women in the arts and media as they age. The online event will feature friends and colleagues from various phases of her 45-year career, including Dame Rosemary Squire, one of the most prominent women in British theatre, and Paul Tetreault, the Director of the historic Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Tickets are $10 for Coalition members/$15 for non-members and can be purchased on Eventbrite.
Dame Rosemary Squire & Martha Richards:
The Feminist Theatre Connection
Martha Richards and Dame Rosemary Squire met in 1984 when Richards was working at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College.
She saw an article in the NY Times indicating that the award-winning British actress, Glenda Jackson, was involved in a women’s theatre company in London called the Women’s Playhouse Trust, which aimed to bring feminist perspectives to the theatre profession.
Richards promptly wrote to Jackson and offered to use her vacation time to work with the company as a volunteer administrator. Jackson forwarded her resume to Rosemary Squire, who was working as the company’s administrator, and Richards ended up spending several inspiring weeks working on the first Women’s Playhouse Trust production, a revival of Aphra Behn’s The Lucky Chance, starring Alan Rickman and Harriet Walter at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
The conversations that Richards had with Rosemary Squire and her colleagues, Sue Parrish and Jules Wright, had a profound impact on her. Since the Women’s Playhouse Trust team had recognized that many talented women were not getting work in mainstream theatres, they had decided to create more job opportunities for them by building a professional company of their own. Ten years later Richards created WomenArts with a similar goal of creating more opportunities for marginalized women artists by helping them get more access to grants and other resources.
Meanwhile, in 1992 Rosemary Squire co-founded Ambassador Theatre Group, which went on to become the world’s number one live-theatre company with over 50 venues in Britain, the US and Europe. Squire and her husband/business partner, Sir Howard Panter, topped The Stage 100 for seven consecutive record-breaking years. In 2007 Rosemary was awarded an OBE for Services to Theatre and in 2018 she received a Damehood for Services to Theatre and Philanthropy. Squire is currently co-founder, Joint CEO and Executive Chair of Trafalgar Entertainment, a premium international live entertainment business.
Squire has remained a strong advocate for women, and when she accepted her Damehood, she said, “I hope that what I’ve been able to achieve will convince young entrepreneurs, particularly women, just starting out that they can succeed in this industry – and that it can be a fascinating and rewarding journey.”
Other speakers will include Paul Tetreault, who is the Director of Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC and was instrumental in the planning of the city-wide Women’s Voices Festival there; Rebecca Strang, who was the Marketing Director at StageWest while Richards was the Managing Director there; and Christine Young, a WomenArts Board Member who is the Director of the Honors College at University of San Francisco and a co-author of Not Even: A Study of Gender Parity in Bay Area Theatres.
Other colleagues who will speak include Jovelyn Richards, a writer, performance artist, storyteller, radio host, and diversity consultant; Deborah Magdalena, founder of Spoken Soul Festival/SWAN Day Miami, Melinda Pfundstein, Executive Director of StateraArts in Cedar City, UT; award-winning playwright Alice Tuan; and Sophie Dowllar, the principal organizer of SWAN Day Kenya. There will also be musical performances by Shellen Lubin, Jennifer Hill, Lydiah Dola, and Mary D. Watkins.
The event is a benefit for the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, which has been a strong partner of WomenArts. In 2013 the Coalition took over the publication of the monthly theatre and film/video funding newsletters (now called #StageOpps and #ScreenOpps), which WomenArts had published for the preceding 12 years.
Please help them continue their important work by making a gift to the Coalition in Martha Richards’ honor. Gifts of any amount are welcome, and your name will be listed as a donor in our online program. (If you would prefer to be anonymous, just let them know .)