Involving a broader public for the long term with The Public Theater
For the last four seasons, we've worked in collaboration with the Marketing and Special Projects teams at the Public on work presented as part of the mainstage, Mobile Unit, and/or Public Forum series. Our focus is both to build upon existing relationships made during previous seasons and to cultivate new ones. Artists are at the center of our approach at the Public and we center our work around the ideas expressed in their plays.
The Public Theater wants to involve new communities, especially those who may not be reached by traditional marketing campaigns, who may not be familiar with the theater, and who also may not see it as a space for them.
Peoplmovr designed and developed a strategy around long-term, community involvement. We started with the hyper local and broadened our research from there. Approaching community and organizational leaders, we engaged them in conversations about the theater and what relationship they hoped to develop there. Working on several shows, often at once, we invited activists, artists, educators, faith groups, schools, media/bloggers, and more to see the plays, to help lead and join post-show talkbacks and, in general, interact with the content the Public is producing more fully.
Over the course of the past three seasons, Peoplmovr has helped bring thousands of new people into the theater. Most importantly, we continue to work with many of the same groups, organizations, and communities over time. We are most interested in this idea of longevity, so our work is not only about bringing in folks for one particular show, but about gathering again and again and using theater as an amazing catalyst to learn more and to have deeply felt community conversations.
Outcome: Party People
UNIVERSES, the award-winning ensemble known for their fusion of theater, poetry, jazz, hip-hop, politics, down home blues and Spanish boleros, made their Public Theater premiere with Party People. Peoplmovr actively collaborated with the Public and UNIVERSES to extend an invitation to Black and Latinx communities, cultural organizers, community-based orgs, activists, artists, scholars, educators, and students about this explosive new work that examined the complicated legacies of the original Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Org/Party.
Peoplmovr developed a powerful coalition in coordination with UNIVERSES and the Public. Members of this coalition, like Brother Shep of the Panther Party, worked with us to bring hundreds of people to the theater through group and individual ticket sales. In addition, we organized a major media event in collaboration with South Bronx Unite. South Bronx-based activists had been working for months to turn an empty former rehab center at 349 E. 140th St.--which, coincidentally, used to be run by the Young Lords Party--into a center for the arts, health, and education. Part performance, part rally, the event included a preview of Party People songs by UNIVERSES and culminated in a group procession to the vacant building to help raise awareness of SBU’s efforts to take back the space.
Peoplmovr also designed and produced twenty one post-performance conversations throughout the show’s run. Led by a curated group of artists and activists such as Eisa Davis, Leila Buck, Kevin Powell, Aaron Landsman, Maha Chehlaoui, Shannon Matesky, and others, these conversations made space for passionate discussions on the show’s themes.
Combined, our efforts helped support and sustain the production, leading to several sold out performances, a week-long extension, and enhanced community experience. Further, many of the relationships developed throughout the production are ongoing.