The Playwrights’ Center focuses on both supporting playwrights and promoting new plays to theaters across the country. Significantly, they offer over $200,000 in fellowships to writers and theater artists each year. They also organize workshops where playwrights can get together with actors and directors to see their script at work, and manage several other programs that help playwrights get connected and build their careers. As they work closely with theaters, actors, directors, and writers, they have an advantage when it comes to advocating for artists and promoting them.
Way back in 1971, five playwrights were seeking professional assistance and support.
The Playwrights’ Center
was founded by these five writers to help them secure productions of their plays, and later expanded to offer multiple forms of support and professional assistance. Since then, it has served as a launch-pad for numerous artists and currently serves over 1,100 member playwrights, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive play-writing centers in the country.
Tom Borger is the Communications Associate there, who is responsible for social media coverage, as well as print and electronic communications. He was the person who set
up for the Playwrights’ Center. He spoke to us about why and how they got started.
The Playwrights’ Center wanted to track the careers of writers who had benefited from their programs. Knowing where each of their playwrights’ plays had been produced, as well as what honors and awards that playwright had received, would help them promote and advocate for the playwright. The Playwrights’ Center also wanted to measure their own effectiveness. This data would go to funders and donors interested in the impact of the Center’s work.
The extensive documentation
was gratifying to have; there were so many examples, and the message
boards were full of other people’s experiences.
The problem was that they had theaters, productions, awards, and past development to track, in addition to playwrights. Also, a play would often have more than one playwright. When a play was selected, all artists associated with that play needed to be populated in the respective fields, and vice versa. Handling these complex branches of data on spreadsheets was the last thing they wanted to do because it led to multiple versions of the same data. So, Tom decided to build a new database using Zoho Creator.
The very few times I ran into snags, I emailed support and heard back
really quickly. That was impressive because all that was for a user who
wasn’t even paying; I was doing all this on a free account.
Tom is now set for the next step; publicizing the applications on their website using a JSON feed. He also suggests that the number of specific scenarios addressed on our
community-forum should keep growing in order to guide new users. That, we will do.
(And, personally, I loved using
for editing the images for this post!)