The National Women's Theatre Festival

NWTF’s 2021 in Review: Pivoting through Adversity and Fueling Artistry


As a content marketing expert, editor, and ghostwriter, I love connecting businesses and nonprofits with their audiences. I’m a published essayist, short story author, and well-known for my workshops in arts marketing and personal branding, as well as how to “Make it Work as a Work-at-Home-Parent” and the “Relo Down Low,” a relocation guide for families. I recently joined as Board Secretary for the National Women’s Theatre Festival, having been their Communications Advisor since 2018, and love consulting with arts organizations on how to live their mission in the virtual worlds.

Yesterday I had a creative breakthrough. More on that later, because here\’s how it happened.

2009 began the longest crisis of faith in theatre that I’ve ever had. What should have been a dream job turned my passion into pessimism and caused me to make multiple embarrassing missteps in my career. I simply didn’t have faith that anything I did was worth the vast amount of effort I put into it anymore. 

I turned to arts marketing so I could try to fill those seats with happy customers who would return, but mostly because I saw so many people doing it so poorly that arts marketing and outreach became a quest. It fed the artistic beast for a while. Now I’m a full time writer, but the pull towards the “stage” remains even through difficult times.

Every time I have a crisis of faith in theatre, Johannah Maynard Edwards and her amazing colleagues raise me back up. I started with their festival’s 2018 marketing and continued on as a Communications Consultant until I joined their Board as Secretary this fall. From Occupy the Stage to The Momversations Project to their annual conference, NWTF has remained accessible in both prices and with closed captioning/ASL interpreters, asking the hard questions that the arts must interrogate in order to grow. They also look inward for improvement and outward for experts and emerging artists.

And in this time that so many theaters must close their productions early, NWTF has always moved forward with hybrid virtual and possibly live programming. They leapt into the virtual space, warts and all that got ironed out, and became a balm at a time when I desperately needed an artistic outlet. I even considered submitting a play for their Occupy the Stage festival this year, but decided my fundraising efforts were more needed right now.

NOW––about that creative breakthrough. I had my first real idea for a new artistic project that could even work with pandemic/endemic protocols. It got me and my husband so excited that he practically locked me in my office to flesh it out. This would never have happened if it weren\’t for the NWTF community and artists constantly inspiring me during the years when I struggled to continue writing while moving, parenting, and building a new career.

If you want theatre to continue to grow and became even more accessible to new audience members, allowing for diverse voices and equality for all, and staying inclusive of parents struggling to stay creative, donate to the National Women’s Theatre Festival. It’s so rare to ask for donations and be able to say with certainty that your money will make a difference. But I can assure you that any amount of money you can give goes directly to other artists and their work. 

Yours in Parity,

Cindy Marie Jenkins

%d bloggers like this: