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2nd Annual World Alive! Celebration


An “Intentionally Different, Entirely ArtsEmerson” Event

On October 11th, we gathered for the 2nd annual World Alive! Celebration. This year, donors came together to support the recently launched Gaining Ground Fund – a newly established resource that allows us to more readily support artists whose work reflects the African Diasporic experience in America. In keeping with the “intentionally different, entirely ArtsEmerson” ethos, the art was placed at the center of the evening. Daniel Beaty began dinner with a performance of the opening song and monologue from his play Emergency, which kicked off his residency here five years ago; actors performed a staged reading of excerpts of Alice Childress’s Trouble in Mind; and Nita Whitaker sang “Seventh Son” from Born for This: The Musical, in which she co-starred.

Why The Gaining Ground Fund

In 1996, over 20 years ago, the playwright August Wilson gave a radical and provocative call to arms in his infamous speech entitled, The Ground on Which I Stand.  In that speech, he suggested that the theatre ecosystem had failed black artists and audiences. Still today, the state of the world for artists whose work reflects the African diasporic experience in America is full of challenges and constraints. Most of these theater artists have faced a choice: tell the stories the traditional theater wants to hear, in the way they want to hear them, and for a largely traditional audience; or, forgo the resources of those theaters and try to make a living on their own terms. In both cases, the circumstances lead to constraints that mean we are not seeing the full flower of their artistic vision.


From our perspective, we believe that we are all failed and lose out when the important voices of our communities are underrepresented, undervalued, and under-resourced. Given our resources of space, time, expertise, relationships in the presenting world, and access to other collaborators, we believe that ArtsEmerson can help remove the obstacles for the work and allow the artists to keep control of both their vision and their process. The Gaining Ground Fund will allow us to provide resources to ambitious projects led by artists creating on an epic scale, resources that remove the obstacles for work and allow the artists to keep control of both their vision and their process. In doing so, we are responding to the call of August Wilson and so many others in the field by taking a step in the right direction.



Celebrating with Gratitude

The entire celebration would not have been possible without the generosity and leadership of our co-chairs Alyce and Patrick Lee, Ted and Mary Wendell, and Marillyn Zacharis, in addition to our honorary co-chairs and entire host committee*. The evening honored couple Sheila Johnson and the Honorable William T. Newman, two impassioned philanthropists who embody the spirit of the Gaining Ground Fund.

From this event and beyond, supporters of this newly established fund are sowing seeds; and together, we are gaining ground for those artists, our audience and our community. Click here to support the Gaining Ground Fund today.



Deval & Diane Patrick

Claudia Rankine

BeBe Winans



Pamela & Bob Adams
Evelyne & Paul Alexander
Petrina & Kevin Cherry
David Gergen
Barbara Lemperly Grant & Frederic Grant
Allan & Rita Kiser
Al Larkin & Wendy Fox
Jacqui Lindsay
Fred Lowery
Kim McCant
Michael & Therese Miles
Valerie Mosley
Janet & David Offensend
Nancy Rappaport
Michael & Judy Rogers
Valentine Talland & Nagesh Mahanthappa
Robert & Shari Thurer
David & Terry Wilkins


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