About Face Theatre (AFT) is one of the nationâ€™s largest and oldest theatres to explore gender and sexual identity. We are recognized nationally for developing innovative and challenging new theatre, working with some of Chicago's and the nationâ€™s most exciting artists, and empowering future generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally (LGBTQA) artists and activists through our education program.
About Face was founded in 1995 due to the lack of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender voices within Americaâ€™s Theatrical Cannon. Within AFTâ€™s first two seasons we adapted three new plays and worked with Tony Award winning playwright Mary Zimmerman to develop a fourth world premiere, receiving public praise and garnering ten Jeff and After Dark awards. In 2002, Moises Kaufman and Doug Wright approached AFT for assistance in developing I AM MY OWN WIFE prior to its future as a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning production. This partnership was the beginning of the ongoing, extremely fruitful relationship with Kaufmanâ€™s Tectonic Theater Project, and was instrumental in moving AFT forward as a recognized resource for the development of new LGBT work.
In 1999, we created About Face Youth Theatre as a free year-round program where Chicago LGBTQA youth use theatre to tackle injustice in our community. The youth theatre has increased the safety, empowerment, and leadership capacity of thousands of young people, addressed issues ranging from youth homelessness to racism in queer communities, and won local and national community awards. Cultural beliefs and homophobia continue to create hostile environments for queer youth, the stress of which puts them at greater risk of using drugs, running away from home, suicide, dropping out of school, and engaging in other high-risk behaviors. About Face Youth Theatre provides mentorship and creates a positive environment where many youth report they feel connected to a community for the first time.
Over the years, AFT has evolved to meet the needs of the more inclusive and expanded queer community. Recent work have explored transgender issues, PONY by Sylvan Osward in 2011 and WHATâ€™S THE T in 2012, and represented queer communities of color through SWEET TEA: BLACK GAY MEN OF THE SOUTH in 2010 (Black Theatre Alliance Award) and our ongoing work with diverse artists like Tanya Saracho and Paul Oakley Stovall. Through current Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgarâ€™s leadership, AFT began the XYZ Festival of New Work in 2009, an initiative dedicated to developing new work exploring gender and sexual identity by emerging artists. In 2010 AFT was one of the ten theatres honored with a National Theatre Company Grant from the American Theatre Wing, founders of the Tony Awards, for our continued vitality, innovation, and artistic commitment. In 2012 AFT received six Jeff and two Black Theatre Alliance nominations and the Jeff award for Best New Play (Sarah Gubbinâ€™s THE KID THING).
About Face Theatre aims to be Chicagoâ€™s celebrated center for LGBTQA arts that amplifies the nationâ€™s leading voices to spark social change. Enabled by broad community support, the organization thrives as an inclusive home where diverse artists, youth, audiences and community partners come together for artistic exchange and cultural dialogue.
What new functionality we are looking for
We need an updated website that 1) is easy to navigate, 2) showcases our upcoming artistic, educational, and community projects. 3) has an interactive component, 4) can be simply updated by non-IT staff and 5) isnâ€™t vulnerable to cyber-hacking.
In 2007, About Face Theatre won an organizational grant for a new website. We worked with a firm to develop a new website design, but did not have the resources to complete the design. A web designer ended up building us a makeshift website by putting custom coding on top of an old Wordpress layout. That has remained our website to this day, and itâ€™s proved to be incredible difficult to use for both our audiences on the front-end and by staff on the back-end.
Users have difficulty finding basic information about our upcoming shows or our education programs. Staff has a lot of difficulty even making simple updates to the site because of the outdated technology. About Face Theatre is working towards increasing community engagement through our programming, and weâ€™d love for our website to include an interactive elements to allow audiences to react to our work or begin cultural and social dialogues. The site has become susceptible to cyber-hacking. When people Google our work they get an advertisement for â€œCialisâ€ instead of learning about our acclaimed artistic work in the community.
How the new functionality will help
Through our mission, About Face Theatre serves two roles in our community: theatre and community organizer. An online home for the theatre that is easy, welcoming, and inclusive will not only help us sell tickets or market our shows, but spark community dialogue around gender and sexual identity.
A new website will make it easier for people to learn about our organization and what we do. By incorporating interactive elements - whether itâ€™s a clearer link to our social media sites, a discussion board, or community event calendar and resource page, weâ€™ll have additional opportunities to engage community members as a community organizer.
How our organization will use the technology
Who will use the technology
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