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An Interview with Abe Rybeck

Posted: Thursday, August 28th, 2014 at 7:24 pm in News

Kathie deNobriga, editor of the NPN/VAN E-Newsletter, interviews Board Chair Abe Rybeck about his long-term relationship with the National Performance Network.


Kathie deNobriga: Let’s start by finding out more about your early involvement in NPN.  How did you learn about NPN?

Abe Rybeck: In the early ‘90s, when The Theater Offensive (TTO) was doing a massive amount of programming, we featured Brian Freeman and the Pomo Afro Homos. He told me a little about NPN, and then I heard a little bit more when we presented Paul Bonin-Rodriguez. He and his director Steve Bailey [now Chief Operating Officer of NPN] thought we would be a ‘good fit’ with NPN. I wasn’t really sure what they were talking about, but we were invited to the 1999 Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, and I went anyway.

Kathie: And what did you think when you finally attended?

Abe: I was really impressed by the amazing array of presenters, but I think we weren’t quite ready to join, plus NPN wasn’t taking new Partners at that time. But three years later, we were invited to apply, and we attended the meeting in Chicago as a full-fledged Partner in 2003.

Kathie: Give us a little context about your presenting work during that time.

Abe: We are the only NPN Partner that is specifically devoted to showing queer work, particularly by people of color. A journalist did some research lately and reported that in 25 years, TTO had presented 200 works by queer (gay/lesbian/transgender) artists, of which 126 were people of color. I’m really proud of that record!

Kathie: Talk a little about how your experience within NPN has changed over time — TTO has been an NPN Partner now for 11 years. Has anything shifted for you?

Abe: Yes, in a couple of ways. First of all, Eve Alpern started coming to the meetings with me, and she also attended the Mid-Year Meetings, which move around the regions. As she became more active – she eventually served as the Regional Desk for a couple of years – she served as another voice and viewpoint about the importance of NPN.  It wasn’t just me raving to the staff, her enthusiasm helped spread the vision within TTO itself.  Now Evelyn Francis, Nick Bazo and others at TTO have stepped up.

I also noticed some changes within NPN. The Providence Annual Meeting was right after NPN became an independent organization, cutting the apron strings from Dance Theatre Workshop. Over time I began to notice more collaboration and less competition. There was more widespread, genuine respect.  It was less about ‘being in the club,’ and more about filling our role in the cultural ecology.

Kathie: Why do you think this transition occurred?

Abe: I think maybe it was the measured, reasonable expansion, with great attention to geographic mix and diversity. There was more a sense of not fighting over crumbs, but sticking together to get a seat at the table, where we could fight for more equity in the field. I think the diversity had a lot to do with that – hearing from rural presenters or ones facing urban challenges or organizations of color struggling for recognition – everyone’s struggles became more of a tapestry than separate threads, and we could see how we were connected.

Also, I believe that intention over years becomes character. I’ve seen NPN display an attentive intention around equity issues – not just race, but rural/urban, geography, gender. It’s become more “built-in” and is manifested by the respect for artists in their role in creating AND presenting work. I think NPN’s deep commitment to equity issues is for the long haul – it’s not just the flavor of the month, desiring a certain demographic or trying to build an audience. Equity is clearly mission-driven at NPN.

Kathie: TTO’s commitment to equity is pretty apparent in your programming, I’d say. But has being in NPN impacted TTO in other ways?

Abe: The artists we saw at the meetings were right up our alley. It was great to be in community with people around the country facing challenges and sharing their solutions. We learned ways of doing residency work that really resonated with us – I mean, we were already doing intense residency work, especially in the four neighborhoods where we now focus most of our work, but the exposure to other models really amplified our ingenuity and capacity. The Performance Residency contract turned out to be a powerful tool that really benefited artists. Through the Community Fund we were able to expand the work that we’d already been doing for years.

But I guess the greatest impact was being able to bring serious resources to commissioning new work. We had been doing some local commissioning, really on a shoestring, but the Creation Fund really allowed us to step up our commissioning activity. Also, although we haven’t participated yet, I’m enormously inspired by the International program.

Kathie: What else would you like to say about your and TTO’s relationship to NPN?

Abe: I have an absolute passion to see how this network breaks that old pattern of “them that’s got shall have,” of shaking up the status quo.  We can really leverage the network for equity by paying attention to structural support. The first time I saw Rhodessa Jones, one of my heroes, decked out to the nines, dancing at a closing party, I felt so lucky to be part of it.  How she welcomed me to the dance floor and we shook our “thangs” together, well that’ll live with me forever.  When I’m an old codger, sitting in my rocking chair, I’ll really treasure the heart-to-heart and cultural connections we’ve made. We love the culture of NPN and we’ve had a lot of fun together.

Plan for “What If,” Not “Why Me?”

Posted: Friday, August 22nd, 2014 at 2:25 pm in News

Arts Ready logo for web SA_ArtsReadyLogo_TAGURL
IT experts say the world consists of two kinds of people – those who back up their data, and those that will. That’s because it takes just ONE data crash with the resulting heartaches and headaches to learn the lesson.

The National Performance Network and the ArtsReady team encourage you to avoid the pain and panic of being unprepared, whether for a data crash, a PR debacle, or an auditorium flooded by a broken pipe. September is National Preparedness Month, and we hope you’ll take some time this month to start, or update/expand, your readiness plan! Here are some easy-to-use resources and ideas to help you out:

  1. You’ve likely had changes in the names and/or contact information for your staff and roster artists.  Make sure you have an updated phone/personal email tree to reach everyone speedily in the event of emergency, and that you have an “In Case of Emergency” contact for each individual (here’s a sample from the ArtsReady Library).
  2. Professional Development – attend ArtsReady workshops and get one-on-one consulting on readiness at this fall’s Western Arts Alliance, Arts Midwest and Performing Arts Exchange conferences.
  3. Download handy mobile apps that will help you keep tabs on bad weather, respond in first aid/emergency situations, or be aware of police activity in your area.
  4. Take a tour of your venue/working space, making sure that alarms, fire extinguishers, emergency signage and other safety devices are easy to see, operational and current.
  5. Join ArtsReady. A Premium Membership gives you access to an online planning tool, cloud-based critical information storage, online training opportunities and more. NPN is an ArtsReady partner, which means NPN/VAN Partners get their first year’s ArtsReady Premium membership at 50% off – use discount code npn2014gen.

Call on the ArtsReady team for assistance with any of these resources, Omar Nelson, membership manager,, (404) 874-7244 x 28.


Adeline Edwards Foundation
Opening for a Grants Administrator

Posted: Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 12:19 pm in Job Announcements

The Adeline Edwards Foundation, a newly established New Orleans nonprofit visual arts organization, seeks a Grants Administrator for a contracted part-time position to administer a grants program September 2014-January 2015. The Grants Administrator will be primarily responsible for creating web-based forms, developing social media networks, and assisting the directors in creating new administrative structures. The candidate must have a solid background in creating organizational systems and strong communication skills. Experience in arts administration is preferred.

You can download a full job description here. Please submit cover letter, resume and references by email attachment to Materials accepted by email only. Search is open until August 22, 2014, 5:00 p.m. CDT. EOE.

E-Newsletter / July 2014

Posted: Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 5:45 pm in E-Newsletters

Greetings from Incoming
Board Chair Abe Rybeck

Posted: Friday, July 25th, 2014 at 11:49 am in News

Every two years the NPN/VAN board of directors elects new officers. This flow of new perspectives keeps our collective imagination sharp. At the same time, we keep an even keel by maintaining most of the executive committee, including a seat for the immediate past board chair. As of July 1, 2014 our colleague and leader Vicki Meek shifted into that role.

I thank Vicki for her wise and gutsy leadership of NPN/VAN and for the generous mentoring she provides me as I step into her fabulous shoes.

Please join me in thanking four terrific board members whose terms ended on June 30, 2014. Each remains seriously engaged in our ongoing work, but the end of their terms gives us a chance to thank them and wish them happiness in their other important ventures. Maria-Rosario Jackson’s national leadership will continue to amplify our voice in cultural policy arenas, as she did so effectively as chair of the NPN/VAN board for two years. James Kass keeps us plugged in with the burgeoning national spoken word and hip-hop performance scenes. New Orleans’ own Tom Reese has his finger on the pulse of cultural collaborations with academia. Performer Maurice Turner, one of several working artists on the board, helps keep our deepest values — and often a live tune! — in every discussion. We thank them and look forward to staying engaged!

NPN/VAN faces tough challenges as well as exciting opportunities.  One of my top priorities for my term as NPN’s board chair is to address the looming threats to the survival of many of our NPN/VAN Partners. Racism and other systemic barriers prevent many rural and culturally specific NPN/VAN Partners from thriving. As a network, we stand in solidarity. Through our critical policy efforts, we stand up for artistic vitality and cultural equity at local, regional, national and international levels. But we are doing even more. We are prioritizing the campaign to leverage our network, bringing in new resources and sharing among us the expertise we each hold. I look forward to the challenge.

Abe Rybeck is the founder and executive artistic director of The Theater Offensive in Boston, MA, an NPN Partner.


National Performance Network seeks Facility Manager

Posted: Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 at 3:18 pm in Job Announcements

The National Performance Network, a national nonprofit arts organization based in New Orleans, seeks a part-time Facilities Manager for a multi-tenant arts facility. The Facilities Manager will have responsibility in three primary work areas: maintenance, scheduling, and administration. The candidate will have a background in creating organizational systems, procedures and electronic scheduling.

For more job details download the full job description here

Please submit cover letter, resume and references by email attachment to  Materials accepted by email only. Search is open until July 25, 2014 5pm CDT.

The National Performance Network (NPN) provides equal employment opportunity to all persons without regard to social and economic background, political affiliation or belief, race, color, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, mental or physical disability, national origin, current and/or former service member status, sexual orientation, health status, age, physical characteristics or marital status, and promotes the full implementation of this policy through a positive, continuing program of outreach. NPN actively encourages applications by all interested people who meet the description requirements.


CAC seeking Arts Presentation Manager

Posted: Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 at 3:15 pm in Job Announcements

The CAC’s Performing Arts Department is seeking an Arts Presentation Manager. See full  job description for details. PA Arts Presentation Job Description


Accepting resumes and cover letters until AUGUST 15Please send all materials 


producing experience highlights

long term administrative/artistic goal

2 professional reference contacts

Job begins: September 15, 2014


E-Newsletter / June 2014

Posted: Monday, June 30th, 2014 at 11:48 pm in E-Newsletters

The Art of Outer Space

Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 at 3:10 pm in News

A Visual Artist Residency in San Jose

Image of Vargas Suarez-Universal painting mural on the exterior of MACLA.  photo by Melina Ramirez

Image of Vargas Suarez-Universal painting mural on the exterior of MACLA (photo by Melina Ramirez)

MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana is presenting COSMOS CODEX, a commissioned, site-specific work by the artist Vargas-Suarez UNIVERSAL, May 2 – August 2, 2014.  This is MACLA’s first art exhibition dedicated to the relationship among art, astronomy and space research. This is also the artist’s first solo show in California, and the first time he has publicly exhibited sculptural objects.

Vargas-Suarez UNIVERSAL, who also goes by VSU, is primarily known for large-scale murals, paintings, drawings, and sound recordings. He sources American and Russian spaceflight programs, astronomy, and aerospace architecture to create commissioned and public artworks for museums, galleries, private and public spaces.

A major aspect of the exhibition is VSU’s dialogue with scientists and other experts at the NASA Ames Research Center, located in Silicon Valley, to gather information directly informing the artwork. Vargas-Suarez is exploring concepts for retrieving materials from Mars, asteroids and other orbiting bodies in our solar system, with the intention of allowing artists, architects and designers access to these materials to expand and explore possibilities that not available to them with traditional materials available here on Earth.

The exhibition installation in MACLA’s gallery is set up as a mock “clean room,” or spacecraft processing facility, typically found at NASA operations centers. The installation will include hand-intervened new digital prints, murals, paintings, sculptural objects, and a video produced in collaboration with artist Barbora Bereznakova.

MACLA, positioned in Silicon Valley – a fertile area for art, science, and innovation – is the ideal setting for COSMOS CODEX. San José, in particular, is a place where artists, scientists, thinkers, and other creative minds can find ways in which science can inform art and vice-versa. This is an opportunity for both disciplines to come together to create unique projects that engage a broad community of artists, scientists, students, and others to discuss questions that both art and science ask: What is our place in the universe? How do we conceptualize, idealize, or represent our position here? How can art present scientific data in compelling ways, and how can science be a source of inspiration for artists?

Further, this exhibition presents an exciting educational opportunity for the hundreds of middle school and high school-aged students that MACLA serves every year. MACLA hopes that the exhibition and the artist’s residency will encourage their students to engage with art and science in a different and meaningful way. VSU, who studied both astronomy and art history in college, and himself has been inspired by the data collected by space/research entities, including NASA, is an inspiration for Latino youth who may be considering studies and careers in the arts and sciences.

Vargas-Suarez UNIVERSAL is based in New York. He was born in Mexico City and raised in the Houston suburb of Clear Lake City adjacent to the NASA Johnson Space Center. He studied astronomy and art history at the University of Texas at Austin and moved to New York City in 1997.

MACLA and Vargas-Suarez UNIVERSAL thank the NASA Ames Research Center for its support.


APAP: Emerging Leadership Institute 2015

Posted: Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 at 3:06 pm in Opportunities

Now Accepting Applications: The Association of Performing Arts Presenters is now accepting applications for its Emerging Leadership Institute (ELI). ELI is an intensive three-day seminar that provides participants with many of the critical leadership skills they need now and in the future. A cohort of up to 25 emerging leaders is invited to participate in ELI, taking place in the days leading up to APAP|NYC 2015 in January 2015. The workshop is a collaborative process, where learning from each other is highly valued. The workshop is also a valuable and rare opportunity for each participant to reflect on and develop their ideas about leadership and on their own career.

Applications are due no later than 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday July 1, 2014. Applicants must be full-time staff of a current APAP/NPN Affiliate Member. To learn more and apply, visit ELI at APAP|365.”

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