It had been five years since Anne Hamburger restarted her theater company, En Garde Arts, and she was feeling antsy. The success of Uncommon Voices, a monthly developmental presentation of artist-generated work, had led to a television deal between En Garde Arts and the local PBS affiliate. The television deal would elevate the company’s profile and had the potential to bring about a significant financial windfall, and Hamburger needed to decide how to best build on the success of Uncommon Voices. As she considered the company’s future, she also reflected on its past.
Originally founded in 1985, the company was the first theater in New York City to produce exclusively site-specific theater, a style that combined traditional theater with performance art by utilizing unused sites in Manhattan to stage large-scale productions. Many of these works are still considered seminal pieces of site-specific theater. However, after more than a decade of producing site-specific theater, Hamburger decided it was time to move on to the next stage of her career. In 1999 she closed En Garde Arts and moved to California. After a short stint as the Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse, and twelve years as an Executive Vice President at the Walt Disney Corporation, Hamburger returned to New York City and decided to restart En Garde Arts in 2014.
Restarting the company was difficult, especially in a crowded theater market like New York City. Moreover, although Hamburger had successfully reestablished the company’s reputation through its local and touring productions, En Garde Arts struggled to acquire the financial resources necessary to produce at their desired level. The company’s luck appeared to be changing with the popularity of Uncommon Voices, and the ensuing television deal. Hamburger had committed En Garde Arts to artistic projects for the next three years, but currently had no plans beyond that. This left her to wonder, how should she capitalize on the success of Uncommon Voices? How should she expand the company’s funding? What was next for En Garde Arts?
Publication Date: May 14, 2021
Citation: Oakton Reynolds, "En Garde Arts (2019)" Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case 19-102, May 14, 2021.
Keywords: Leadership, Mission, Organizational Direction