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For the Record

The Prague Quadrennial is the most visible of USITT’s international activities, but it is just one part of an extensive web of connections between individuals and organizations fostered as part of USITT’s commitment to global collaboration.

Photo/R. Finkelstein

Financial Support Aids International Activities

Sandy Bonds
VP-International Activities

In a recent poll of current USITT members, when asked the primary advantage of membership in the organization, 92 percent listed networking as the most important. Through connections made in USITT, members can call upon professional colleagues for advice, problem solving, and inspiration.

These associations reach beyond the United States borders, too, as USITT and its individual members become increasingly involved in networking with colleagues across the globe. As an organization, USITT participates in and strongly supports the activities of OISTAT, the international umbrella for scenographers, theatre technicians, and architects, and prepares the U.S. presence at the Prague Quadrennial (PQ). Individual members are forging alliances with projects on several continents in education, research, and design. This international interface creates enduring links to friends and colleagues throughout the world.

USITT, in continuing an ongoing commitment to internationalism, supports travel awards for members and students to go abroad to extend their theatre related experiences, and invites notable international designers to present at annual conferences.

Frank Mohler and Peter Beudert have received travel awards to continue their research in the Czech Republic and France. They have shared their findings with USITT members through articles in TD&T. Travel funding also helped send students Annelie Thurin, Ryan Fletcher, and Olivera Gajic to the Prague Quadrennial. A USITT Fellowship contributed to further exploration in Africa and Mexico for Deborah Bell’s ongoing research on mask makers around the world.

USITT supports other avenues of international engagement through biennial study tours abroad. Recently, USITT members participated in a study tour to Egypt and Jordan. Upon return, tour member Tracey Lyons, costume designer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, commented, “Not only did the history of centuries come alive, I connected with a modern culture and a budding modern theatre.”

Ron Naversen is professor of scenic design at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and has joined several of the study tours. For him, “the exposure to the styles of architecture, décor, and dress we experience on the tours gives me much greater understanding than what I can get from my books and internet research. I am always awed at what people could build without electric saws, diesel trucks, and cranes. I find the study tours are an excellent complement to the national conference.”

As an individual member, Annie Cleveland has embraced international experiences in several countries, including a Semester at Sea. She describes her global experiences with enthusiasm. She notes they “have given me a genuine appreciation for diverse artistic expressions and interpretations as well as providing the opportunity to discover what I really value in my own culture… My close friendships with colleagues in other countries surpass language barriers and time differences."

The Samuel L. Scripps International Fund provides an enduring legacy through these international links and programs. Many have experienced the advantages of international theatre-related activities and have benefited from the programming supported by this fund. The Institute’s ability to carry out and enhance international activities depends upon the financial support of individual members to continue to strengthen this fund.

There are three easy ways to give. Just check off a box on the membership renewal form (paper or online), when registering for the Annual Conference & Stage Expo, or by visiting the secure online site Donors can select the fund or funds they wish to support, list the amount (USITT will automatically make a 50 percent match), and fill in the details.

Generous gifts enable USITT to continue to strengthen ties with theatrical artists and technicians around the world.

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