The Parent Artist Advocacy League for Arts and Media (PAAL) hosts its fourth annual summit from Nov. 30-Dec. 3 on the theme “Gentle Work. Specific Care.”
Presented by PAAL, alongside partners The Public Theater and A.R.T./New York, the summit is produced by Northstar Projects. The four-day event includes virtual programming from Nov. 30-Dec. 2 (panels, discussion sessions and affinity-group gatherings) and hybrid programming (a luncheon, panel and gala) on Dec. 3. The summit takes place in a moment when discussions of pregnancy and caregiving among theater professionals have come to the fore. Virtual programming can be livestreamed or watched on demand.
Founded in 2017 by Rachel Spencer Hewitt, PAAL is, according to its website, “a national community, resource hub and solutions generator for individuals with caregiver responsibilities and institutions who strive to support them.” PAAL, which created the National Handbook of Best Practices for Parent and Caregiver Support, offers childcare grants, provides digital training, consulting and more.
The convention will officially kick off on Dec. 1 with the opening keynote panel “Compassionate Accountability, Leadership and Team Mobilization.” Hewitt, who appeared on Broadway in “King Charles III” and serves as PAAL’s director of partnerships, programming and resources, will moderate the discussion with Nicole Brewer (Anti-Racist Theatre), Tamanya Garza (PAAL) and Akima Brown (REEL Families for Change). The panel will address the cultural ethos of the full theatrical industry, including Broadway, with regards to parenthood, families and childcare.
The opening panel will set the tone, and Hewitt’s follow-up session, “Ask Me Anything: Childcare Funds, Grants and Budgeting, Taking Action and More,” will offer tangible solutions to create a legal, ethical and compassionate workplace by answering such questions as How do you actually provide childcare? How do you create a fund for that legally? “[Attendees] can ask questions and have me basically give a free consultation and problem-solve with them because that’s my job — that’s what I do with producers,” Hewitt said.
For workers and producers on Broadway, specifically, Hewittt also highlighted the Dec. 2 session “Pregnancy & Sex Discrimination: The Essentials of Staff Education,” as well as the think tank “Kids Onsite: Safety and Care in a Re-starting World,” led by Leanne Gadow of Broadway Babysitters and Renee Wimberly of Seed Art Share. “What do you do if someone wants to bring their child into the theater or their dressing room?” Hewitt posited. “Broadway Babysitters is on site in New York City theaters, and they’re insured and they have COVID policies for their sitters, and they talk about how they make safe environments for children.
“If any producer is curious about what that means — even just starting the conversation or hearing what the conversation is — we really encourage them to expose themselves to that.”
The summit will conclude on Dec. 3 with the PAAL Gala honoring Lincoln Center’s Ehrenkranz chief artistic officer Shanta Thake with the inaugural Leader in Care Award. The hybrid gala, open to summit attendees and individual ticket holders, will feature performances by Harper Grundei and Gary Grundei, Maigan Kennedy, Ethan Lipton, Tatiana Scott and Haley Swindal. A multimedia moment with exclusive video contributions will feature Mahogany L. Browne, Joanne Javien and Toshi Reagon.
Childcare for those attending the Dec. 3 summit events in-person will be provided on site by Broadway Babysitters. PAAL also offers sliding-scale pricing and scholarships for attendees.
Since its first convention in 2019, the PAAL Summit has gathered and engaged industry professionals to work towards solutions and policies to create a safe and compassionate workplace for people with caregiving needs.
For a full schedule of events or to register visit paaltheatre.com.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the date of the Gala, which is on Dec. 3.