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HowlRound Launches New Site, Reflects on Past Decade

HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatre makers around the world housed in Emerson’s Office of the Arts, has a new look and new features, with the same vital mission.

That mission, since 2009, has been to “amplify progressive, disruptive ideas about theatre and facilitate connection between diverse practitioners.” It is advanced via open participation.

“Over the past few decades, market forces have driven the not-for-profit theatre to become increasingly commercialized,” said HowlRound Director and Co-founder Jamie Gahlon. “This commercialization has not served the art, the artists who make it, the theatres, or the communities they serve.

Any theatre maker can contribute essays, share content on HowlRound’s free livestreaming TV channel, add shows and events , and attend in-person gatherings to discuss ideas and issues affecting theatre.

“HowlRound was founded on the belief that art and culture are resources that belong to all and adopted a commons-based approach to promote collaboration, knowledge sharing, and stewardship of our collective resources,” Gahlon said.

New to the site, launched on Tuesday, is a more intuitive navigation system, the ability to explore content by topic, and the opportunity for users to make their own HowlRound accounts, which will allow them to create and share content, and bookmark things to read or watch later. There is subscription based commenting and opportunities to share feedback on the site, which is entirely accessible.

The new HowlRound also features an essay written by Alexis Frasz and Holly Sidford of Helicon Collaborative, which documents HowlRound’s history and effects on art and culture over the past 10 years.

Sidford and Frasz write:

“In ‘opening the firehose’ of voices outside of the gates of mainstream theatre, HowlRound has helped reveal issues and perspectives that were formerly marginalized or invisible, and allowed like-minded people to connect and organize. It has democratized access to knowledge, becoming one of the nation’s largest archives of theatre-related material, freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This has influenced how and where theatre is taught and studied, opening up possibilities for artists outside of traditional “theatre centers.” The long-term impacts of this are yet to be seen, but systems experts note that changing who has access to information and enabling people to self-organize are two of the most important leverage points for creating transformative change in any system.”


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