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Arlington, VA 22206
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3700 S Four Mile Run Drive
Arlington, VA 22206
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A Year-End Appeal from Avant Bard Theatre

The time of end-of-year appeals is upon us, and I write this letter mindful that an overstuffed inbox is nowhere near as appealing as an overstuffed stocking. So I’m going to try to keep this short, and I’m going to try to keep it free of the generic hyperbole that marks so many fundraising campaigns.

Picture of Kathleen AkerleyAs you may know, I joined Avant Bard this year as a Producing Partner. After years of being the sole Artistic Director of Longacre Lea, this has obviously been an adjustment: joining a shared leadership structure, joining Alyssa and Sara who have worked steadily to keep Avant Bard operational after the crises of the loss of Tom Prewitt, the pandemic, and the national reckoning with non-profit leadership models, joining a company with a busier season, a significantly larger operating budget, and thus a greater need to involve the community and audiences in the support of those seasons.

I don’t take asking for your money lightly. I delete the end-of-year appeals in my inbox. You are right to ask “why should I help?” This is my answer:

Hurricane Diane.”

Photos from "Hurricane Diane"If you missed the final show of Avant Bard’s last season, you missed Stevie Zimmerman’s polished, powerful showcase of skilled actors (all local), in an inventive script that engaged timely issues while also being entertaining. All well and good, plenty of theaters ended their season with a flourish, but what’s noteworthy is that Alyssa and Sara and their team achieved this after mounting two other extremely well-received full productions, despite significant shifting in the leadership structure, financial setbacks, and steep learning curves in all areas of production, and while consistently implementing everything they were learning about genuine equity in non-profits and how genuine “community outreach” first calls for serious self-scrutiny.

We’d like to keep all that up, and if you think this is a good path for theater to be on we’d appreciate your help. We have a deconstructed Coriolanus planned for March 2024, a co-production with Longacre Lea, directed and video-designed by Séamus Miller and featuring thrilling stage combat by Bess Kaye; we have Homeless Garden in May 2024, the return to Avant Bard of playwright Matthew Minnicino in a take on Cherry Orchard that feelingly examines both generational wealth and environmental imperatives in Chekhov’s context of land ownership. We are not taking any steps forward in this or any seasons to come unless we’re sure that the working conditions are safe and fair, the pay is a meaningful percent of the budget, and that the resulting work is something that speaks in community with audience and artists alike.

If you can help us financially with that, I would be very grateful. And even if you can’t, I hope you’ll put both shows on your calendar. If you know me from Longacre Lea, you know I’ll probably be around the lobby and ready for any conversational dive into what’s going on in the world of theater we all love so well. 

Kathleen Akerley
Producing Partner
Avant Bard Theatre

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Kathleen Akerley

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