Doctor of Education
Dr. Frederick Dressen
Dr. Laura Wangsness Willemsen
Dr. Anna Farrell
Minnesota artistic directors working in community theater benefit the communities they serve. The purpose of this narrative research and case study was to understand how the artistic director furthers equity and diversity in their leadership roles. Artistic directors see their practice as transforming and supporting diversity. The artistic directors' voice and viewpoints were from their own contextual situation and experiences in the field of education, leadership, and theater arts practice. The primary unit of this interpretative study was the community theater sites, its context, and the artistic directors' leadership experience. The semi-structured interviews were scheduled via Zoom during the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic.
The basic findings were eight themes extracted from the interviewees' responses and included the professional disruptions and organizational financial realities from COVID-19, their reliance on grants for sustainability, resiliency as community theater artists, their commitment to multigenerational education and community outreach, along with their commitment to equity and social justice. The conclusions may help decision makers and theater administrators gain insights into how socially responsible and equitable behavior contribute to organizational health and sustainability. The recommendations are aligned with the themes: to create partnerships for mutual support, how to manage a change process, and to review best practices in training and educational approaches. Future research opportunities must embrace 21st century policy, focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and develop alternative and accessible technologies to share live and/or live-streaming performances with diverse audiences.