Washington Shakespeare Company (dba Avant Bard Theatre)

Theatre on the Edge

Arlington, VA   |  http://avantbard.org/

Mission

Avant Bard Theatre is an Arlington-based performing arts organization dedicated primarily to producing classic works--both time-tested and contemporary classics; emphasizing a provocative, bold approach in an intimate setting; and training and showcasing the best emerging talent in the region, mentored by seasoned, professional theatre artists. Avant Bard's mission is expressed through its commitment to artistic excellence, collaboration, developing talent, and promoting educational and social outreach.

Ruling year info

1991

Principal Officer

Mr Marc Okrand

Main address

3700 S. Four Mile Run

Arlington, VA 22206 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

54-1568294

NTEE code info

ater) (ATh)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The arts are an essential community-building tool, providing youth with outlets for expression, opportunities for adults of all ages to witness diverse stories being told on the stage, and vibrant neighborhood programs that promote unity and understanding. Numerous studies from the National Endowment for the Arts and Americans for the Arts demonstrate the positive impact of the arts on communities across the country. Studies from the World Health Organization have also shown the incredible health benefits associated with arts participation, especially among youth in the areas of social and emotional development. Despite these many benefits, South Arlington residents have historically been left without access to high-quality and affordable art. For over 30 years, Avant Bard has served as the theatre serving residents of South Arlington and providing them with groundbreaking and thought-provoking art that spreads these proven benefits to all our neighbors in Arlington and beyond.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Performing Arts

Washington Shakespeare Company (dba Avant Bard Theatre) is a professional theatre company located in Arlington, Virginia, that produces 3-4 classical plays per season. The company also develops external community programming (including arts education in schools), free outdoor performances, and an annual free play reading festival. Avant Bard Theatre serves approximately 4,000 people at its productions and performances annually.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Artists and performers
Children
Adolescents
Low-income people

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Avant Bard’s long-term goal is to become the region’s premier presenter of intimate, affordable, and visionary productions of classic plays and new plays on classical themes, featuring the area’s best emerging and established artists. As the Theatre pursues this goal, it evaluates its activities through four organizational objectives.

Objective 1) To offer Arlington and the D.C. region challenging, innovative productions and programming of the highest quality.

Objective 2) To make theatre accessible to everyone and ensure that low- and middle-income patrons, as well as younger patrons, can afford to attend performances.
year will be essential as they resume their academic journey to becoming healthy, successful adolescents and young adults.

Objective 3) To empower citizens of all ages to effect change in their communities by exploring and telling their stories through the dynamic resources of theatre and related arts.

Objective 4) To foster Arlington County’s diversity and uplift representational casting that empowers historically marginalized voices and storytellers in theatre.

Objective 1) To offer Arlington and the D.C. region challenging, innovative productions and programming of the highest quality.

Over 30 years, Avant Bard has served as the premiere theatre for groundbreaking, thought-provoking, contemporary interpretations of the classics. Avant Bard's 8 Helen Hayes Awards (including two awarded in 2020) and 38 nominations serve as a testament to Avant Bard's artistic prowess.

Objective 2) To make theatre accessible to everyone and ensure that low- and middle-income patrons, as well as younger patrons, can afford to attend performances.

Avant Bard believes that all of Arlington and the D.C. region should have access to affordable and engaging theatre. The Theatre sets aside 10 percent of tickets as Pay What You Will (PWYW), for each performance, which means patrons are encouraged to name-their-ticket price, the only theatre in Arlington to do so. 100 percent of tickets for preview performances are also PWYW. PWYW is an unwavering promise that price will never be a barrier to attending and enjoying an Avant Bard performance. Avant Bard also offers many other community programs and performances free-of-charge or PWYW, this includes the signature Bard's Action Corner conversations and outdoor productions at Lubber Run Amphitheatre.

Objective 3) To empower citizens of all ages to effect change in their communities by exploring and telling their stories through the dynamic resources of theatre and related arts.

In alignment with numerous analyses by the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, and Virginia Commission for the Arts, Avant Bard prioritizes programs that engage youth and children in theatre. In recent years, Avant Bard has established several partnerships with Arlington Public Schools that engage youth in the classroom and instill in them early on an appreciation for artmaking. These partnerships typically involve an Avant Bard affiliated teaching artist providing instruction to small groups of students that cultivates their talents and nurtures the next generation of theatre-goers.

Objective 4) To foster Arlington County’s diversity and uplift representational casting that empowers historically marginalized voices and storytellers in theatre.

The Theatre’s Producing Partners, Board, and artist affiliates are committed to infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles into Avant Bard’s productions and programming. This begins with building a mainstage season and other programs that center the voices of BIPOC playwrights, women playwrights, and queer playwrights, so that their stories are heard and appreciated. This work then continues with casting and hiring artists, directors, and designers who are a part of the communities represented in these stories and are familiar with any cultural nuances that are necessary to tell the story effectively.

Avant Bard’s unique niche lies in the intimate, edgy, and affordable work that it produces. Avant Bard’s artists perform in spaces with a maximum capacity of 110, meaning that audience members are always close to the action on stage.

Avant Bard’s 8 Helen Hayes Awards, 38 Helen Hayes nominations, and numerous Helen Hayes Recommended productions, as well as the company’s two-time inclusion in the Catalogue for Philanthropy as one of the best small nonprofits in the region, provide ample evidence that Avant Bard has earned a singular position in the theatrical community of the Washington region.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Avant Bard Theatre primarily serves the people of Arlington County and Northern Virginia. Patrons from across the D.C. metro region, including Washington, D.C. and Southern Maryland, frequently attend Avant Bard performances and programs. Avant Bard is dedicated to being South Arlington's theatre. South Arlington is historically underserved by arts organizations and Avant Bard, as an established presence in the community, is committed to ensuring high-quality arts remain in the community. Avant Bard's constituency in South Arlington and Arlington County is diverse and from all walks of life. The company's signature Pay What You Will program ensures people of all income backgrounds can afford tickets to Avant Bard shows.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Community meetings/Town halls, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Avant Bard received excellent feedback from visitors to the company's website, which has since been redesigned to be more accessible and easier to navigate for the Theatre's constituency. Feedback from the Theatre's community was solicited throughout the latter half of 2020 and into 2021. This feedback informed the website revamp, which is still underway.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Feedback from the people Avant Bard serves has transformed the company's approach to program development, program marketing, patron communication, and company representation. Feedback has had an exceptional impact on the company's racial justice and equity journey. The "Bard's Action Corners" have created safe spaces for dialogue that invite the Theatre's constituency and peers to openly discuss how Avant Bard can grow and improve as a community steward and advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Avant Bard takes these valuable conversations and applies them toward everything it does. Using this feedback, one outcome is Avant Bard's plans for at least 75 percent of its future programming to be written and directed by historically marginalized communities.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback,

Financials

Washington Shakespeare Company (dba Avant Bard Theatre)
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Washington Shakespeare Company (dba Avant Bard Theatre)

Board of directors
as of 11/9/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Marc Okrand

Marc Okrand

Bill Perkins

Richard Cooper

Wendell Ocasio

Sarah Cormeny

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/20/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/20/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.