Alberto Justiniano, Artistic Director of Teatro del Pueblo in St. Paul, Minnesota, was preparing for a meeting with the leadership team of the state’s largest presenting arts organization, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, also based in St. Paul. In November, Justiniano had proposed a partnership between the two organizations when Shelley Quiala, Vice President of Arts Education and Community Engagement at the Ordway, called to elicit his opinion on how the Latinx community might respond if the Ordway were to produce West Side Story in April 2017 and In the Heights in 2018. It was uncommon for the Ordway to share plans for its upcoming season before they publicly announced it. Quiala had had to ask for authorization to discuss their plans with Justiniano. She trusted Justiniano; she had been a teaching artist and production associate at Teatro del Pueblo from 1998 to 2002 and Justiniano had served as a community advisor for the Ordway in the past. Justiniano had also participated in a series of protests in 1997 sparked by the Ordway’s presentation of the touring production of West Side Story which had cast many of the Latinx roles with white artists. Quiala thought Justiniano would be able to speak about the Latinx relationship to West Side Story and about the pairing of West Side Story and the tentatively proposed In the Heights. She was clear, though, that the Ordway was not asking for his blessing or permission to produce the plays.
Even so, Justiniano express his reservations about speaking on behalf of the Latinx community without getting more perspectives. He asked for time to solicit the opinions of other members of his community. After discussing the proposal with people involved in the 1997 protests and fellow members of the Twin Cities Theatres of Color Coalition (TCTOCC), Justiniano proposed that Teatro del Pueblo and the Ordway collaborate to produce West Side Story and In the Heights.
Thrilled by his proposal, Quiala told Justiniano, “Great, you have to meet James [Rocco] because he’s the Producing Artistic Director and ultimately this is his call.” Quiala explained that the Ordway was busy preparing for the departure of its current president, Patricia Mitchell, so scheduling the meeting would take time. She also wanted Justiniano to meet with the incoming president to get his buy-in. Jamie Grant would be announced as the new president on January 12, 2016 and would officially begin in March 2016. Grant agreed to join Justiniano and Rocco’s meeting before his official start date. With the meeting a few weeks away, Justiniano considered Teatro’s position in this partnership while Quiala and Rocco evaluated the Ordway’s. Should both organizations follow through with the partnership? If so, how might they structure a mutually beneficial partnership? What could each organization offer to the project? Partnering had risks and advantages for both organizations. Could they negotiate a collaboration that met the needs of both organizations and the diverse communities they engaged?
Published Date: 2018-09-01
Keywords: St. Paul, Minnesota, Community, Culturally Specific Organization, Small Organization, Partnership
Suggested Citation: Leandro Zaneti, "Teatro del Pueblo & The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (A) (2016)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case 17-89A, September 1, 2018
Teaching Notes: Yes (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
A supplement is available for this case: Teatro del Pueblo & The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (B)
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