We are overjoyed to launch our very first commissioning fund, named in celebration of fierce arts advocate and longtime En Garde Arts board member and friend, Joan D. Firestone. The Joan D. Firestone Commissioning Fund is a five-year fund awarded annually to mid-career theatre artists creating work at the intersection of theatre and social change. Selected artists will receive an $18,000 unrestricted award and will be encouraged to use the funds however they wish to provide significant support and resources to bring their theatrical project to life.
En Garde Arts will hold the first public developmental reading of the work or work-in-progress within the first year to 18 months from the original commission date. En Garde Arts will hold no rights to future productions of the commissioned work.
WHO IS JOAN D. FIRESTONE?
“I truly believe that if it weren’t for the incredible philanthropic abilities of Joan D. Firestone, En Garde Arts wouldn’t exist today. In addition to her fierce determination to support the arts in any way she can, she is above all an extraordinary human being and I am honored to launch this fund in her name.” Anne Hamburger
“Joan has been a nurturing voice and unbelievable champion of artists for decades. I’ve long admired her generosity and genuine commitment to supporting theater artists who are making work that is socially engaged, complex, and endeavors to have a meaningful dialogue with audiences.” – Lynn Nottage
“Joan Firestone has devoted her life to supporting artists and making the arts in America more innovative, inclusive, and excellent. She has inspired me throughout my career and this groundbreaking new Fund is a fitting tribute to her transformative impact.” – David Henry Hwang
She is founding Board President of Youth Arts NY. Chapman was Associate Artistic Director at New York Theatre Workshop from 1995-2020; a 2015 LILLY Award Recipient; co-adapted Ann Bannon’s Lesbian classic, The Beebo Brinker Chronicles (GLAAD Media Award winner, nominated for a LAMBDA Literary Award) for the stage with playwright Kate Moira Ryan and co-writer/performer of OBIE Award winning Gertrude and Alice: A Likeness to Loving with life partner, Lola Pashalinski.
she pioneered site-specific theatre in New York in the 80s and 90s, using its streets and historic landmarks as her stage. In 1999 she was hired to launch and run Creative Entertainment, a global division for Disney. After nine years she returned to NYC and re-launched En Garde Arts developing theatre with social change at its core, assembling visionary risk-takers to produce work from its initial inception through closing night and encouraging artists to explore storytelling through music, movement, multimedia and site-specificity.
For her work, she has won 6 Obies, 2 Drama Desk Awards, an Outer Critics Circle Award, Lee Reynolds Award and the Exceptional Merit in Media Award from The National Political Womens’ Caucus. She graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama. She is a well-known speaker who most recently was a keynote speaker at the Sorbonne in Paris, France for a conference called The City as our Stage.
shows include the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Golden Child, and FOB, as well as the musicals Soft Power, Aida, Flower Drum Song and Disney’s Tarzan. Hwang has written thirteen operas and co-wrote the song “Solo” with late pop icon Prince. His film/TV work includes the TV series The Affair. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a Grammy Award winner and two-time nominee, and a three-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.
Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. Recent work includes the book for MJ the Musical (Broadway), the libretto for the Intimate Apparel Opera (LCT), and Clyde’s (Broadway, 2ST, Goodman Theater), and co-curating the performance installation The Watering Hole (Signature Theater). Past work includes Sweat, Ruined, the book for The Secret Life of Bees; Mlima’s Tale; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Intimate Apparel; Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine; Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por’knockers; and POOF!. She has also developed This is Reading, a performance installation in Reading, Pennsylvania. Ms. Nottage is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship (among other awards), is an Associate Professor at Columbia University School of the Arts, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
“I’m absolutely honored to receive this support from the Joan D. Firestone Fund as I kickstart my ambitious new project #FoodBankinfluencer with indigenous communities I was introduced to during my mutual aid work of the Auntie Sewing Squad. It’s so exciting that this funding can further both ambitious progress in the health of these communities I’ll be working with and be the critical backbone to my newest theatre work.” Kristina Wong
#FoodBankInfluencer” has Kristina working with existing strategists in food desserts to reimagine the grocery store/ food bank line/ community fridge as a new immersive theater/ environment that will attempt to cue healthier instincts of consumption and self-determination.. Specifically, these funds will be used to pay a team of seamstresses who live near the Rocky Ridge Market in Dinnebito, AZ– a rural area of the Navajo Nation. We’ll be sewing a new fabric interior of this market/ community hub that will reimagine it as the native Trading Posts it once was– creating a guide towards community building, ancient wisdom and a reclamation of food ways.
A BIG THANK YOU TO THE GENEROUS DONORS THAT MADE THIS FUND POSSIBLE
$15,000 and above: Leon Lowenstein Foundation; $10,000-$14,999: Agnes Gund, David Milch, David Richenthal; $5,000-$9,999: Arthur DeGroat, Ron Guttman, Anne Maffei, Meg Walker & Morey Bean; $2,000-$4,999: Deborah Dugan, Penny Brandt Jackson, Gerry Ohstrom; $1,000-$1,999: Cynthia Argo, Kim & Stewart Beck, Mimi & Denis Conway, Dorothy Dunn, Anne Hamburger, Claire O’Cleireacain, Joanne Ramos, Daryl Roth; Up to $999: Marilyn Abalos, Catherine Burns, Paula Dagen, Marylyn Dintenfass, Sarah Habermann, David Hamlin, Ari Handel, Marianna Houston, Lynn Loacker, Sheila Rae Ross, Michael Schubert, Marlene Siff, Debra Simon, Roger Skelton, Marianne Watson.