Representatives of the Black and Latino Playwrights Conference have been spotted crowdfunding on campus to spread awareness about the annual workshop, which highlights the works of minority playwrights.
The conference, which is held in the fall, features black and Latino playwrights from across the world who submit their plays while professional guest directors and artists further cultivate the productions.
“We want to let people know that this is happening on campus, and we’re asking them just for a dollar. Just donate a dollar and spread the word,” said Matthew Ybarra, theatre arts senior.
If BLPC members raise $25,000, they will receive a match grant for $25,000. If every enrolled Texas State student donates one dollar, the crowdfunding goal could be met.
John Fleming, dean of fine arts and communication, said the all the profits from the crowdfunding campaign will go to the conference.
“100 percent of every penny pledged goes to the project,” said Fleming.
Fleming said the conference uses funding to help bring in theater professionals and playwrights.
“We bring in nine or ten theater professionals and they get a $1,000 stipend for the week and we pay for their airfare and hotel,” Fleming said.
The theater professionals take a week off from their jobs to attend the conference, according to Fleming.
“Every year we have to cobble together the money,” Fleming said. “Ultimately we need to get a permanent endowment so we’re not always chasing money.”
Eugene Lee, artistic director of BLPC, said there aren’t many resources for playwrights to work on and develop their plays.
“I know (the conference) is important by the fact that I’m getting 250 scripts every year from writers across the country who are looking for a place to develop their work,” Lee said. “This helps to level the playing field.”
The BLPC was fortunate enough to receive two previous National Endowment for the Arts grants and a current National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities Access matching grant which will match dollar for dollar all funds raised.
Ruthi Caldwell, the Research Coordinator who helped Lee write the NEH grant, said any additional funds will help bring in more support staff and some year-round programming.
“The funds will pay for a part-time staff member to help create a searchable database (or) catalogue of black and Latino plays,” Caldwell said. “And coordinate humanities aspects of the program throughout the year including quarterly webinars with guest speakers.”
Lee said the BLPC can have a lifetime effect on how a person views and understands another culture.
“It’s interesting to watch that process unfold for everybody,” Lee said. “The students always say that it’s life changing to get that sort of insight to how plays happen.”
Every night there will be rehearsals, and the playwrights will write all day to create new pages, new lines and even new characters, Lee said.
“They’re by, for and about Black and Latino people, and that makes them authentic,” Lee said. “I think it’s important that white people see these plays, because then they have some understandings of those cultures, and if they understand something they can’t hate it.”
Ybarra said the conference helped him and others understand their cultures.
“I grew up in a Mexican family, in a culture of assimilation,” Ybarra said. “I had to get with the American values, and so for me it made me really proud to be a Latino. It helped me embrace my culture.”