Alliance Theatre, director Susan V. Booth, win $250k grant

The Alliance Theatre and its artistic director, Susan V. Booth, are the recipients of a $250,000 grant from the Vermont-based BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle.

The award is one of five similar grants given by BOLD to promote female artistic directors in American theater, to encourage plays by and about women and to create a mentorship program to bring more women into leadership roles in the theatrical world.

“The creation of this initiative and the vision of its founders is already enabling concrete and irreversible steps in the right direction,” Booth said. “I am humbled, grateful and invigorated by the call to action our selection provides.”

This group of five awards marks the inaugural year of the program. The other recipients are:

•Eileen Morris (The Ensemble Theatre, Houston, Texas).

• Sarah Rasmussen (Jungle Theater, Minneapolis, Minn.).

• Lisa McNulty (WP Theater, New York, NY).

•Carol Dunne (Northern Stage, White River Junction, Vermont).

Dunne is the BOLD founder and artistic director at Northern Stage. The program provides support during the 2018-2019 season. Each theater will receive a $250,000 grant.

Booth has sparked initiatives that helped bring women into the theatrical arts in Atlanta and elsewhere. Among the programs she has spearheaded is the Spelman Leadership Fellows program, which provides one to three years of training to prepare women of color for top leadership roles in the non-profit sector. The program was recently award a $300,000 grant by the Rich Foundation.

She also has a track record of producing plays by female playwrights, including works by Pearl Cleage, Janece ShafferMeg MiroshnikLindsey FerrentinoMadhuri ShekarAlix Sobler and others.

BOLD founder Dunne said the award is needed to help counter the inequity in the theater world.

A recent study by Wellesley Centers for Women, revealed that women hold only 20 percent of artistic leadership positions in American regional theater.

Booth arrived at the Alliance Theatre in 2001, replacing Kenny Leon as artistic director. She came from Chicago, where she had served as director of new play development at the Goodman Theatre.

She has held teaching positions at Northwestern, DePaul, and Emory universities, and is a member of the Carter Center’s Board of Councilors.

The BOLD program is supported by the Pussycat Foundation, created from the fortune of Cosmopolitan Magazine founder Helen Gurley Brown, who died in 2012.

“We've known for too many years that there is both a gender and a cultural imbalance in the leadership positions in our national field,” said Booth.

“Call it unconfirmed bias, call it a lack of equity - it's real, it's present, and it will only be addressed when we make addressing it our highest priority.”