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A Message From Our Director: December 2020

12/22/20

As a supporter of the arts, you understand the role the Wisconsin Union Theater plays in the community we serve. In the face of uncertainty and in the midst of a crisis, arts can ground a community, show us where we have been, and remind us where we are committed to going. This fall, when we lifted the curtain on our virtual season, we were building the plane as we flew--working to deliver world-class performances in a virtual space that was just not built for live theater. But you were there with us, purchasing tickets, joining free events, and donating to the funds that allow us to support artists and help sustain student leadership opportunities in the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Performing Arts Committee. These student leaders learn to plan, program, and create performing arts events, and their enthusiasm and participation enriches the Theater and strengthens the quality of our work.

This fall, you joined us for mesmerizing music by pianist Jeremy Denk; tunes from around the world that inspired us all to dance wherever we were; a festival that celebrated Black arts in beautiful, diverse ways; a dazzling performance by jazz pianist Christian Sands; an evening of music in Paris with cellist Camille Thomas; and more. We are eager to hear from you about what you enjoyed, what we could improve, and how we can best serve you in the future. If you attended a Wisconsin Union Theater online event this fall, please complete our survey here—you’ll be entered for the chance to win a free mini Terrace chair! Along with the Theater staff, I read these surveys, share your insights with our student leaders, and consider your feedback as we plan future events.

In January, our commitment to excellent virtual programming will continue as we debut a series featuring exclusively local artists. As the season continues, we’ll co-host a talk with journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson on Jan. 25 and share online performances by the Verona Quartet on Jan. 29 and the Meccore Quartet on Feb. 28. More details about these and other Theater events are available at union.wisc.edu/theater.

Since the birth of the theater, the arts have done more than entertain us. They are essential to the human spirit as they inform, inspire, and encourage us to be our best selves. In June 2020, as much of our nation was awakened to the deep and systemic issues of police violence and racial injustice, the Wisconsin Union Theater dedicated itself to creating a representative and inclusive space on campus. Our student and staff community came together to create a statement that defines our commitments to using the arts to create and support social justice.

Since we made that promise, we co-produced the second Black Arts Matter Festival with artist Shasparay Irvin; established the André De Shields Theater Fund to support projects and performances created, performed, designed, or produced by people of color or that examine issues related to diversity, equity, social systems, or injustices against groups; re-imagined a virtual Madison World Music Festival; and offered accommodations to patrons to ensure our online spaces are accessible. We are committed to this work and will continue to integrate its spirit into the mission and operations of the Wisconsin Union Theater.

Your contribution, right now, is critical to our work to support world-class performances in Madison. By attending our free and ticketed events, you help sustain this community and create opportunities for our students and performers alike. If you are able, please consider giving to the André De Shields Theater Fund and Theater Director’s Fund. Your gift to the Director’s Fund supports learning opportunities for UW-Madison students like WUD Performing Arts Committee Director Steven Beda and allows us to pay every artist that performs as part of our season.

Thank you for your continued support and generosity. Until we meet again for online performing arts experiences for a lifetime, we wish you a peaceful, arts-filled conclusion to 2020 and a wonderful start to 2021.

Elizabeth Snodgrass
Wisconsin Union Theater Director
12/22/2020

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