In honor of International Women’s History Month, PEAL is spotlighting a few women around town who are making things happen. First up is Tressa Glover, Producing Artistic Director of No Name Players and co-founder of SWAN Day Pittsburgh.
Describe your current work with No Name Players and SWAN Day. Why did you start SWAN Day Pittsburgh, and how has it grown over the years?
I’ve been Producing Artistic Director of No Name Players since 2005. When I first learned about SWAN Day, I knew No Name Players needed to produce an event in celebration of it because of its importance to both women and the arts as a whole. Artistic Director Don DiGiulio and I decided that, in addition to theatre artists, we wanted our SWAN Day event to include artists of multiple disciplines. SWAN Day Pittsburgh 2013 will mark our 5th annual SWAN Day event.
Having been born and raised in Pittsburgh and having worked as an actor here, I was well aware of the large number of amazingly talented women artists who make Pittsburgh their home. And I was also aware that there were, across the board, less working female artists in the city than male artists. Creating a SWAN Day Pittsburgh event would be one way to bring attention to these women artists and hopefully increase awareness of, and generate a larger following for, every female artist in Pittsburgh.
Our first SWAN Day Pittsburgh event involved 37 local artists and 2 crew members. It featured both world premiere and existing works. SWAN Day Pittsburgh 2013 will involve 92 local artists, 9 crew members and all of the pieces will be world premieres inspired by interviews with girls and women from the Pittsburgh area. In 2012, we were honored to be named an International SWAN Day partner alongside producers in Kenya, Bulgaria, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida.
How have the arts helped you become a leader? What skill sets did you have to acquire?
My training as an actor has given me a greater awareness of others as well as myself and an appreciation for different points of view. It also requires compassion, strong listening skills, creativity, and focus. Being a producer has required organization, determination, attention to detail, and confidence. I believe these qualities and skills are vital for a leader.
How did you become a leader in your field? What has been your greatest success as a leader? What has been your biggest challenge?
Hard work and determination. I consider my greatest success thus far to be when No Name Players was named an international SWAN Day partner by SWAN Day Co-founder Martha Richards. I’m also very proud of the fact that we’re about to produce our 8th season of theatre here in Pittsburgh. The greatest challenge has been building and maintaining a stable audience base.
Why is it important for women to become active leaders at all levels (emerging, established, etc) in the arts? Why do you think there is such a disparate lack of representation of women at the higher levels of arts administration?
Though all women are individuals, there is a unique female point of view that we all possess that needs to be represented . Our strengths, talents, thoughts, and voices are essential to every discussion at all levels so that we may learn from and mentor each other, as well as our male counterparts. In addition, it’s important for younger girls to see women in leadership positions; it gives those girls the confidence to become leaders themselves.
I honestly don’t know why there’s a lack of representation of women at the higher level of arts administration, other than to say that it’s that way in most fields, and the arts are unfortunately following suit. I do believe that change is happening, that there is now a greater awareness of this lack of female representation and that it is unacceptable. But I think this change will be a slow process.
What advice would you give to emerging artists and arts administrators?
Don’t give up. Remember that your voice and your specific talent are substantial and valuable and are unique to this world. Learn from others as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask – you never know what the answer might be.
Tressa Glover’s first venture with No Name Players came when she appeared as Thyona in its 2004 production of Big Love. She became Producing Artistic Director of the company in 2005. Tressa has worked as an actor in New York and Chicago and has appeared locally with Pittsburgh Public Theater, Quantum Theatre, City Theatre, Bricolage, Pittsburgh Playwrights, Thank You Felix Productions, The Theatre Factory, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, Microscopic Opera Company, Off the Wall Productions, and The Summer Company, among others. Tressa is also an Acting Instructor at Act One Theatre School in the North Hills and a Teaching Artist for City Theatre’s Young Playwrights Festival.