Wednesday, January 27, 2010

East West Players Project Launched

And we also have East West Players today explaining some of the goals of their project and why it’s such a relevant endeavor.

East West Players is excited to launch our Think It! Project. Our project will allow us to explore the possibility of starting an Asian Pacific American artist talent agency within the structure of our organization.

Since 1965, East West Players has been at the forefront of Asian Pacific American performing arts. Today, our programming includes mainstage productions as well as adult acting and writing conservatories, youth outreach, professional career development workshops for actors, and behind the scenes advocacy in the major media networks. An APA artist talent agency would combine our mission of supporting APA talent (beyond the walls of our theater) with reinforcing our organizational financial stability (by creating another earned income revenue stream). At first glance, this seems to be a natural evolution for EWP. On a daily basis, our Arts Education Director receives casting calls for film, theatre, and television projects for APA talent. Currently, she forwards requests to our network of APA actors and community members. Often, many new actors in our network book jobs and receive their early experiences because of her referrals and behind the scenes support. However, on the other end of the process, we notice that casting projects generally only come to EWP to cast for ethnic-specific roles. This limits the amount of experience our new actors are exposed to as they hone their craft. Thus, at first glance, formalizing an APA talent agency seems to be a natural evolution. It will allow EWP to charge a commission for work we are already doing AND empower us to actively send talent to audition for non-ethnic specific roles that other agencies may not otherwise make available to them.

Through this Think It! Process, we hope to confirm whether an APA talent agency in our nonprofit business model is feasible, by exploring the questions that surround business structure, market demand, stakeholder buy-in, etc. We have already confirmed a talented business consultant, Ming Lo, who will join the project as an organizational project coordinator. Ming (who brings to the table an MBA from Stanford University as well as many years working in the Hollywood industry) will work closely with Arts Education Director Marilyn Tokuda to reach an ultimate goal of creating a business plan by the end of our grant period (2/29/2011).

--Lisa Tang, Development Manager, East West Players

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