Mina Morita, head of Crowded Fire, To Get $25K Grant
TheFrontOffice Foundation, the charitable arm of Director/Producer Wendy C. Goldberg’s TheFrontOffice (an entertainment company), is awarding a $25,000 mid-career grant to Mina Morita, the Director of Artistic & Artist Development at Crowded Fire Theater Company, that will serve as one of the largest financial awards to an individual director. This significant inaugural grant, both merit and need based, honors both the career of this deserving artist and aspires to keep the spotlight on the gender inequities that remain ever present in the field for female identifying directors.
“I am astonished and humbled to be recognized by this accomplished panel of colleagues, as well as grateful for the life-changing generosity of Wendy C. Goldberg, TheFrontOffice Foundation, Peggy J. Koenig, Jerry & Roz Meyer, and directors Rachel Chavkin, Tamilla Woodard, Lear DeBessonet, and Lila Neugebaur,” said Mina Morita.
“The significance of this moment is that, for me, it recognizes years of dedication to the Bay Area theater ecosystem as an arts leader, which has deepened my abilities and craft as a director. The resources I am receiving will be focused on my continued development as a director through various trainings & retreats; on work with BIPOC-centered companies that may not otherwise have the finances to invite me into a development process as an out-of-town director; and on support with health care after over a decade of paying my own way.”
The selection committee was led by Wendy Goldberg, Patricia McGregor, Robert O’Hara, Lisa Peterson and Chay Yew. Leading Funders for this grant include Directors Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown), Tamilla Woodard, Pam Mackinnon (Clybourne Park), Lear DeBessonet (Into The Woods), Wendy C. Goldberg and TheFrontOffice, Lila Neugebaur and individual donors Peggy J. Koenig (Producer) and Jerry and Roz Meyer (Supporters).
“Mina Morita is the perfect candidate for this award and on behalf of our committee, we are so thrilled for her,” said Wendy C. Goldberg. “I started the Foundation during the pandemic in the hopes to aid theater artists, but prior to the pandemic, it was blazingly clear that little to no support was available for mid career directors– there were no awards of this magnitude. These types of awards only existed for playwrights. We learned via SDC’s “On The Edge Study,” women directors fall out of the membership when they should be flourishing, all of which my community knew to be true, and it was now confirmed with data. The goal with this grant is to draw attention to the support of directors, as well as encourage other funders to create some structures of support for our country’s most gifted artists.”
(she/her) is the Director of Artistic & Artist Development at Crowded Fire Theater Company. A celebrated new plays director, Mina has worked at: The Guthrie Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Magic Theatre, Center REPertory Company, American Conservatory Theater, Campo Santo, Shotgun Players, Playwrights Foundation, TheatreFirst, Ferocious Lotus, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, and Crowded Fire with such creators as Susan Soon He Stanton, Qui Nguyen, Anna Deavere Smith, Star Finch, J.C. Lee, Christopher Chen, Lauren Gunderson, Isaac Gomez, Philip Kan Gotanda, Young Jean Lee, Idris Goodwin, Lloyd Suh, Dave Harris, Amelia Roper, Adam Chanzit, Sean San Jose, Min Kahng, Wes Nisker, and Dustin Chinn.
Mina is a recipient of Theatre Bay Area’s [TBA] Outstanding Direction of a Musical in 2014 and nominated by TBA for Outstanding Direction of a Play in 2017, as wel as Shellie Awards Best Director in 2018. She was recognized as a Beinecke Fellow with Yale University in 2022 and will be directing Sanaz Toossi’s English at Berkeley Rep in Spring 2023.
Previously, Mina served as the Artistic Associate at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and its center for the creation and development of new work, The Ground Floor. She has also served as Board President of Shotgun Players; as a 2014 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab participant; as one of the founding members of Bay Area Children’s Theatre; as panelist with the Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, Theatre Bay Area, and Hewlett Foundation; as a speaker for the Getty Leadership Summit; lead facilitator for the Lotus Playwriting Retreat with Playwriting Australia; and Guest Artist at UC Berkeley and Stanford University.
Her commitment to ED&I and anti-racism work extends to participation in groups including: the Bay Area Artists for Racial Justice, the Making Good Trouble Anti-Racist Training Program, the Bay Area Accountability Workgroup, TCG’s ED&I Institute, and with the Hewlett Foundation. In 2016, TBA awarded her the 40@40 distinction for her impact on Bay Area Theater. In 2015, Mina was honored to share her story on TEDx, and in 2016, she was chosen as one of the YBCA100, for “asking questions and making provocations that will shape the future of culture.”
Founded in 2019, Wendy C. Goldberg’s TheFrontOffice is an entertainment development company that specializes in cross over content from live theater to new media. Fueled by the intersection of Goldberg’s 20 years in the theater and her experiences as a Performance Director for Rockstar Games, TheFrontOffice develops content and stories for our times. TheFrontOffice Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, was established in 2020 to support the live theatrical community in the time of the industry shut down. They are now focused on how they emerge from this chapter.
Their support happens in a multitude of ways including direct artist relief, commissions and grants. To date, they have partnered with TCG and SDCF on relief efforts. TheFrontOffice Foundation has also partnered with the Broadway Design community on the 1/52 Project to help diversify the design population on Broadway and this year, distributed over $100,000 in grants to seven early career design recipients.
With corporate donors as well as individuals, these efforts have distributed a half a million dollars in aid. Donors come from all sectors and are primarily individuals who care about supporting theater artists. For further donation information: https://give.cornerstone.cc/frontofficefnd.