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Ambassador Report: New York City
(Left to right, clockwise) NYC Ambassadors Kathleen Warnock, Yvette Heyliger, and Matthew Sowell; NYC Regional Representative Winter Miller.
(Left to right, clockwise) NYC Ambassadors Kathleen Warnock, Yvette Heyliger, and Matthew Sowell; NYC Regional Representative Winter Miller.

Greetings from New York City! My name is Yvette Heyliger and along with Kathleen Warnock and Matthew Sowell, I am one of three NYC Ambassadors. Our Regional Representative is Winter Miller.

     As Ambassadors, it is our pleasure to support NYC constituents by keeping members informed about Guild events, reports and announcements; providing up-to-date information, both from our Guild and the local theatrical community; connecting members to the appropriate Dramatist Guild staff to handle any issues or concerns that may arise; and finally, building community by sharing writer opportunities, resources, and member activities in our area.

     Before social distancing drove us into virtual spaces, we planned to divide New York City: Kathleen would take Queens; Matt would take The Bronx and Staten Island; Winter would take mid – lower Manhattan and Brooklyn (in addition to her duties as Regional Representative of NYC); and yours truly, Yvette, would take Uptown, Harlem and Washington Heights/Inwood. In the spirit of building and maintaining our NYC community, we invite you to send ideas for programming, mixers and virtual meet-ups to nyc@dramatistsguild.com. We look forward to strengthening our bonds as a diverse community living and working in NYC during these unpredictable and challenging times.

Now, on to a few highlights of our activities as Ambassadors:

     In October 2019, in my role as Executive Committee member, I was pleased to co-facilitate a packed meeting of Honor Roll!, a newly formed advocacy group. Many thanks to Winter for behind-the-scenes support and to DG’s Executive Director Tina Fallon who welcomed this group of women+ playwrights over 40 to the Mary Rodgers Room. Meetings, panels and workshops are now held virtually. To learn more about Honor Roll!, as well as a history of activism on behalf of women playwrights, read my post in The Dramatist Blog, Honor Roll! We Got This.

     In November 2019, the DG / TTI Training, “Building Affirming Workplaces, Supporting our Transgender and Non-binary Peers”, was provided by the Transgender Training Institute led by Maybe Burke who was introduced to the Dramatists Guild by me. The training was mandatory for Reps, Ambassadors, and DG Staff.

     In February, Winter and Adam Odsess-Rubin, Founding Artistic Director of the National Queer Theater co-conceived “Writing a Queer Future, A Gathering of Queer and Trans Playwrights.” Matthew was a co-host and scribe for the sold-out event which brought DG members from the LGBTQ+ community together to discuss queer representation and opportunities for queer playwrights and envision a more inclusive theatrical landscape. There will be more events of this kind.

     In March, I conceived and hosted a webinar, “Getting the Most Out of NPX: Tips from a Fellow Playwright”. This event celebrated the fifth anniversary of the National New Play Network’s New Play Exchange (NPX), “the world’s largest digital library of scripts by living writers”. And what’s not to celebrate? NPX revolutionized the submission process and is working to level the playing field for writers who do not benefit from traditional representation. I welcomed playwright EMMA GOLDMAN-SHERMAN who shared navigational tips for writers to maximize the benefits of the NPX site. Missed it? No problem! Click here!

     In June, I gave welcoming remarks as NYC Ambassador and Executive Committee member of Honor Roll! before the Zoom event, “Liberty’s Daughters: Immigrant Women’s Monologues”, which was organized by DG member SAVIANA STANESCU, in association with Immigrant/International Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) and the virtual Nuyorican Poets Café. Missed it? No problem! Click Here!

     In addition to her post as NYC Ambassador, Kathleen co-chairs the Parks and Cultural committee of Community Board 1 in Queens and has formed an informal working group dedicated to getting a purpose-built theatre in Astoria. You can read Kathleen’s Queens Report and learn how theatres in that borough are continuing programming during the Coronavirus pandemic here.

     And finally, prior to COVID-19, Winter was coordinating with local theatres to join the Playwrights Welcome Initiative, which offers comp seats to DG members from anywhere in the world if there are any unsold tickets just prior to a performance. When we’re back to attending live theatre, check out this amazing program and ask your Guild Rep how to get more theatres to sign on. And what of the much-anticipated Rejection Carnival? Winter adds, “Our spring Rejection Carnival is on hold until members can gather and safely enjoy cotton candy”.

     This concludes the NYC Ambassador Report. Protect your health so you can continue to share your gifts and talents with the world!

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