Long Wharf Theatre Partners With New Haven Free Public Library on Inclusivity Initiative

Wouldn’t it be convenient to check out library books at Long Wharf Theatre reflecting the themes of the play just presented? Or get free theatre tickets at the public library?  Long Wharf Theatre and the New Haven Free Public Library are working together on multiple initiatives marking the beginning of a long term partnership to increase access to both organizations.

These ideas will be implemented in January, beginning with the first performance of Long Wharf Theatre’s production of January Joiner: A Weight Loss Horror Comedy, running from January 9 through February 10.

Long Wharf Theatre patrons with a valid Connecticut card will be able to check out books in the theatre’s lobby prior to performances. New Haven Free Public Library customers will be able to go to the Ives Main Library, located at 133 Elm Street, to obtain free tickets to a Long Wharf Theatre production.

The partnership, called “Stage. Page. Engage,” is being supported by the ‘Co-Creating Effective and Inclusive Organizations’ Project, or CEIO, a two-year pilot initiated by Bill Graustein and Niyonu Spann to increase inclusivity, justice and conscious co-creation in New Haven. The partnership began in April 2012.

Library and theatre administrators, through a series of monthly meetings with CEIO’s capacity-building team, have been discussing issues of inclusivity, social justice, and conscious co-creation within their own organizations and the city at large, as well as how engagement in literature and theatre can help address these issues. These first two initiatives were considered easily enacted efforts that would ideally engage more people in both institutions.

By offering a selection of materials related to the general themes of Long Wharf Theatre’s plays, the New Haven Free Public Library can expand its community engagement, and the theatre can deepen the theatrical experience.

“The theatre and the library are both places where literary content can inspire reflection and discourse. Christopher Korenowsky and I felt that, given our shared goals, a partnership between our organizations made a lot of sense, and we began to develop ways in which we can use our resources to spark conversations throughout the community,” said Joshua Borenstein, Managing Director.

“The moments surrounding a play are uniquely charged and excited times. By tapping into that, we are creating an opportunity for people to be more fully united in the greater human stories libraries and theatres offer,” said Christopher Korenowsky, Executive Director of the New Haven Free Public Library.

The idea of offering free passes to Long Wharf Theatre was modeled off of the public library’s museum pass program.

“Museum passes are one of our most successful initiatives, allowing families to enjoy educational and outdoor experiences together for free. We decided to work with Long Wharf Theatre to create a similar initiative,” Korenowsky said.

“This program will remove the financial barrier from seeing a Long Wharf Theatre production and offer another avenue of accessibility,” said Joshua Borenstein, managing director of Long Wharf Theatre.

CEIO is working closely with the respective staffs to come up with additional program offerings that will have a positive impact on life in the city, strengthen the partnership between the two organizations as well as increasing the effectiveness of the organizations themselves.

“The ultimate goal of this partnership would be to make theatre audiences and library audiences indistinguishable from each other and become truly reflective of the New Haven community. These first two initiatives are small, but meaningful steps in that direction,” said Eileen Wiseman, Long Wharf Theatre’s director of development and part of the CEIO planning team.

Contact: Steven Scarpa, Director of Marketing and Communications, 203-772-8255 or steven.scarpa@longwharf.org

The ‘Co-Creating Effective and Inclusive Organizations’ Project began in April 2012 as a two-year pilot co-created and led by Niyonu Spann and Bill Graustein to increase inclusivity, justice and conscious co-creation in New Haven. Participating organizations, including Long Wharf Theatre and the New Haven Free Public Library, have the opportunity to partner with CEIO and receive training, support and direct funding to assist needed shifts in internal practices and external operations. The project is based on the core belief that organizations in which there is shared power and responsibility are more effective and poised for igniting transformational change. For more information, visit www.ceio.org.

Long Wharf Theatre (Gordon Edelstein, Artistic Director and Joshua Borenstein, Managing Director), in its 48th season, is recognized as a leader in American theatre, producing fresh and imaginative revivals of classics and modern plays, rediscoveries of neglected works and a variety of world and American premieres. More than 30 Long Wharf productions have transferred virtually intact to Broadway or Off-Broadway, some of which include  My Name is Asher Lev, February House, The Glass Menagerie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning plays Wit by Margaret Edson, The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer and The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn. The theatre is an incubator of new works, including Have You Seen Us? by Athol Fugard. Long Wharf Theatre has received New York Drama Critics Awards, Obie Awards, the Margo Jefferson Award for Production of New Works, a Special Citation from the Outer Critics Circle and the Tony® Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

The New Haven Free Public Library serves as a resource to provide information, education and recreation to the citizens of New Haven. The public library has three goals.  Building strong neighborhoods.  Ensuring the academic success of every school child.  Helping the city of New Haven become a job generator through a progressive and dynamic job and career center.  The NHFPL consists of five facilities: the Ives Main Library and the Fair Haven, Mitchell, Stetson and Wilson branches. Please visit www.nfhpl.org to learn more about the programs, services, collections and technology that your public library has to offer.