NET National Gathering 2023

Event Report: In-person/hybrid national gathering in New Orleans (Oct 20-22)

Claudia Alick co-facilitated the digital portions of the NET national gathering with Meena Malik and Sam Morales for 2 days. During the first day the online participants viewed livestream of opening in New Orleans. At the end of the day they livestreamed into the main space onto a big screen and shared their work with a live audience. Jesenia joined as an online participant for the second day. Below we share agenda and other information to give you content about what we did and the Network of Ensemble Theaters.


11:00 am – 11:25 am CTHow We NET Claudia Alick

We begin the day with a grounding in values and collaboration with a local representative leading a ritual of grounding that is in their cultural practice. After this grounding and ritual, we will hear from our local host, André Cailloux Center For The Performing Arts, and from NET’s Board and Bridge Ensemble. We invite one of you to lead us in an art-burst moment!

11:25 – 11:45 am CTDevising the Container Meena Malik

Deep introductions through a gestural activity prompt participants to introduce themselves via a sacred core value. We move into group values mapping and will spend some time going through and adding to our pathways to community care (aka community agreements and requests) for the weekend together.

11:45 am – 12:00 pm CTBreak
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm CTDevising the Container – Values Mapping & Pathways to Community Care
Sam Morreale & Meena Malik

Deep introductions through a gestural activity prompt participants to introduce themselves via a sacred core value. We move into group values mapping and will spend some time going through and adding to our pathways to community care (aka community agreements and requests) for the weekend together.

1:00 – 1:15 pm CTBreak
1:15 – 2:00 pm CTSolidarity Economy World-Building Workshop Sam Morreale

We continue to open the containers of imagination by working with the themes and principles of Solidarity Economy through an exercise of ensemble worldbuilding. Bridge Ensemble members will guide small groups in a world-building activity. The parameters for each group will launch from 1-3 Solidarity Economy principles chosen by the group and a spirit of invitation into a new world.

2:00 – 3:00 pm CTSolidarity Economy World-Building Share Outs (HYBRID Session with the folks in NOLA!)
Claudia Alick & Sam Morreale

After the world-building exercise, groups will share their created worlds, we will reflect outloud what we witnessed and felt, and then, we will set the worlds in motion simultaneously and be present in the creativity and dreaming of the collective. To close, we will share what is buzzing from the activities in devising and witnessing. We will be joined by members of the virtual circle for this hybrid moment.

3:00 – 3:15 pm CTBreak
3:15 – 3:30 pm CTClosing Meena Malik


9:00 – 9:30 am: Opening Reflections (Meena)
9:30 – 10:00 am: Wisdoms from the past and present (Sam)
10:00 – 10:45 am: Devising Sprint (Claudia)

Instructions & Q’s (15 mins) This session starts by exploring what are wisdoms from the past and present that you want to bring in to focus before we get to imagining and devising our future? As that conversation comes to its fullness, we will move into Devising Sprints where we Imagine that NET is starting all over again. Not from square one – building on all we’ve achieved, individually and as a network, and with the collective assets of our artistry, relationships, knowledge, and other existing resources to draw on. But if we were to radically reimagine a new iteration of NET…an evolutionary version that’s rooted in ensemble practice, and that’s designed with care and intention to address both the world we’re in now, and our boldest aspirations for what could come next… What would that new NET look like to you?

  • What are the essential components needed for it to hold, and to have value for you, your ensemble, the ensemble arts community, and the larger field?
  • What evolutionary pivots are needed (as an organization, and as a community) to ensure a vital future for the ensemble arts? What new potential could be realized?

10:45 – 11 am BREAK
11-12pm Devising/Design Sprints: BUILDING TOGETHER (Claudia & Meena)
12:00 -12:15 pm BREAK
12:15 – 1:00 pm Closing (Meena)

View the Official NETneXt NOLA Event Program here and on the Event LinkTree! Read up on our speakers and ritual leaders, the expanded schedule for the evening, the land we are on, a welcome note from our leaders, and MORE!

More on NETneXt

Designed and led by the NETneXt Bridge Ensemble (a transitional team drawn from the NET membership), the NETneXt National Circle-Up events are a call to action. The Fall 2023 series invites all current and past NET members into the community engagement phase of NETneXt, our collaborative process to devise and plan the future of NET. 

This second phase of NETneXt is organized as a series of participatory community investigations that will “circle up” the NET membership for collaborative research and development (Co-R&D). To start, six online sessions (Sept 20-Oct 16) will lead up to a weekend-long, in-person/hybrid national gathering in New Orleans (Oct 20-22) with regional and online options for remote participation. Following these Fall 2023 events, we will continue this work through additional online NETneXt Co-Creation Circle sessions (through the end of 2023) with our national membership, colleagues from the broader arts field, and natural allies beyond our sector. We will then synthesize our learning into a formal operational plan (Winter/Spring 2024) to chart our path forward to what’s NEXT for NET. 

Intended to inform and fuel a collective re-envisioning of NET, the Fall 2023 NETneXt National Circle-Up events will focus on:

  • sharing our stories and exploring ensemble practice in the arts and beyond (Sept 20 & Oct 4);
  • building intentional and specifically ensemble-rooted community agreements (Sept 27 & Sept 30); 
  • and expanding our learning around solidarity economy networks for resource sharing (Oct 11), and practices for community care and accountability (Oct 16). 

As we map the ensemble community’s achievements, assets, aspirations, and needs, we will explore ways that artist-led ensembles and collectives are uniquely positioned in the current performing arts ecology; what our collective power and untapped potential might be amid the shifting cultural landscape; and what organizational structures and shared commitments the NET community needs to build to best support and accomplish this work. 

The NETneXt process will center frameworks for anti-racism, equity, and justice, through ways of seeing that are indigenous, intergenerational, interdependent, intersectional, and (playfully) imaginative.

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