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OUR Mission

Vanguard Productions, as an organization is led by four core beliefs:

- Elevating Community through Artistry


- The Artist’s Hippocratic Oath: To help, or at least, do no harm


- Commitment to Anti-Racism


- Innovation through Collaboration

These beliefs permeate every aspect of our work as a company. They are to be considered and implemented at every stage of production, from season programming, to final load out. This consideration of values should be applied to all artists, writers, directors, designers, and other vendors that we collaborate with. Finally, as we believe that theatre is a force for public good, we should make every effort to extend these values to our audiences as well. We hope to carry these principles forward in my work with Vanguard, lest we lose our way and the purpose for our work.

George Lorimer and Joshua Pohja, Co-Founders, Vanguard Productions

ELEVATING COMMUNITY:

The fostering of community, in all forms, is at the core of Vanguard Productions. Community between artists, community between audience members, community between organizations. It is why we are a theatre company, and focus on live performance. The two absolute requirements for “theatre”  are an audience and an actor. Two human beings must stand face to face, open, vulnerable, questioning, yearning for a connection. Without that connection our work would be meaningless. By its very nature theatre is a medium that both necessitates and builds community. As such we choose to embrace that need for connection and to elevate community in all its forms through our work. 

 

Vanguard is committed to being a theatre by and for the city of Milwaukee. We are committed to hiring local actors, directors, designers, and crews to work on any Vanguard Productions. Elevating community means paying artists above market rates and creating opportunities for local talent to shine. We aspire to create interdisciplinary connections and to bring artists of all forms into a collaborative space. Elevating our community means that we must aspire for the highest possible achievements and to constantly train and refine our work as artists. 

 

At Vanguard we aspire to foster community outside of the rehearsal hall as well. We must engage with our audiences as well, critically, thoughtfully, and fearlessly. This means programming works that spark conversations between audience members, tell stories that speak to the diverse and rich cultures of Milwaukee, and ask the pressing questions of our times. Finally we are committed to extending community outside of the theatre, and commit to partnering with a local non-profit for every production providing audiences and artists the opportunity to give back to the city of Milwaukee. 

 

In our increasingly atomized, digital society, personal connection is becoming more and more of a rarity, and I find that it is essential that we as a company continue to foster community through our work. All of our other beliefs stem from this core tenet. We believe that artistic expression is a necessary part of the human experience and that creating a space for all to share in that expression is a noble task. 

 

TO HELP, OR AT LEAST DO NO HARM:

 

Our mission is to create high quality and professional theatre experiences for our audiences, but we know that in the creation of art, human beings can suffer. As exploitation and alienation are antithetical to our core tenet of elevating community, we must take every effort to avoid harming others in the creation of our work. To borrow from the medical profession our goal should always be to help, or at least do no harm. 

 

This policy applies to our artists and audience members as we seek to avoid creating physical, emotional, professional, economic, religious or racialized trauma in our work. It is important to note the difference between trauma and discomfort with this tenet. Theatre should be uncomfortable, it must challenge, there must be tension for both actors and audience members. But that discomfort must be managed lest it turn into lasting pain. This philosophy is incorporated into all of our operations as a company so that we may continue to build and not burn bridges.

 

COMMITMENT TO ANTI-RACISM:

 

At Vanguard we acknowledge that we exist within a society of racism and white supremacy. We know that there are deep systemic inequalities in our country, the city of Milwaukee, and the arts industry as a whole.  As such we are committed to being an anti-racist and anti-white supremacist institution. This means:


- Committing to hiring and paying BIPOC artists from the Milwaukee community. 

- Programming works by BIPOC Writers that uplift marginalized voices in our community.

- Having clear and open channels for artists to report discrimination without fear of reprisal and retaliation.

- To regularly interrogate our own policies and practices to root out internalized white supremacist behaviors.

- Lower the economic barriers to entry in our educational programs by offering scholarships for BIPOC students into our APEX classes and intensives. 

 

We also must acknowledge that this statement is written for a predominantly white institution, and that such messages often only serve as lip service to settle a sense of white guilt. These are not empty platitudes but calls to action. Community cannot be established on the exclusion of others, and assert the values to hold ourselves accountable. 

 

INNOVATION THROUGH COLLABORATION:


In order to elevate the Milwaukee artistic community and to bring new faces to the stage, Vanguard is committed to producing new and innovative works. We are committed to producing Milwaukee premieres of plays and musicals, in order to bring new stories and new artists to our community. Producing a classic work of theatre means innovating in other ways: casting, adaptation, and staging. Vanguard aspires to create new and devised works and to write stories about the community in which we find ourselves.

Innovation also can be created through collaboration with other mediums. We are not a company of actors, we are a company of artists. This means working with dancers, musicians, poets, and visual artists to create dynamic and bold performance experiences. We are committed to leading the way for new forms of performance in our community.

There is an inherent collaborative element to education that drives our work in our studios; an exchange of ideas, the challenging of beliefs, and ultimately, growth into a broader, more understanding artistic perspective. As such, we are compelled to provide excellent educational offerings to Milwaukee artists so they may continue to hone their craft. Without the intellectual stimulation that rigorous study of one's craft provides, our skills, imagination, and empathy atrophy and die. Instead we believe that a vibrant community of growing artists is good for Milwaukee's theatre community, and by extension, our city as a whole.

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