CORNERSTONE_OCT

Cornerstone is weeks away from premiering this fall’s production of SEED: A Weird Act of Faith at Chuco’s Justice Center (Oct. 25-Nov. 18). SEED is the second play in The Hunger Cycle, a six-year series of world premiere plays about hunger, justice and food equity issues.

ArtPlace recently spoke with Natalie Conneely, Director of Development for Cornerstone Theater Company, about the importance of partnerships in moving the company’s mission forward.

ARTPLACE: Who outside your organization has been key to your ability to move your initiative forward? 

CONNEELY: Strong relationships with our community partners allow us to move forward in our special initiatives. The relationships that we have formed with Community Services Unlimited, Hunger Action Los Angeles (H.A.L.A.), South Central Farmers, and most recently, Chuco’s Justice Center are integral in assuring our success and the success of our second play in the Hunger Cycle, SEED: A Weird Act of Faith. The strength of our relationships also determine the fruits of the projects that we are able to move forward, such as launching a produce stand for every weekend show of SEED which will enable us to bring economic vibrancy to the community, and potentially offer an idea that will outlive the run of the show itself. Each and every partnership we form determines our future and the success and impact of our work.

The knowledge and trust that our partners have inside of the communities we work with are key elements that allow us to move our work forward. Chuco’s Justice Center, one of our newest community partners, will be hosting Cornerstone during the run of our next production. Chuco’s Justice Center serves as a youth and community space, resource center and gathering place for activists, artists, educators and community organizations in South Los Angeles. They have been a major factor in ensuring the success of SEED and all of the innovative elements taking place around the production, including our community produce stand, and a fair food festival to celebrate the theme of sustainability and urban agriculture. Not only did Chuco’s Justice Center welcome Cornerstone to perform SEED within their physical space in Inglewood, CA, they have also connected us with a myriad of young and vibrant community members who are interested and eager to participate in the development of our production. We have been able to hire five young students participating in Chuco’s youth programs to be part of our production team and are thrilled to extend our partnership with them throughout and beyond the four week run.

The partnerships and relationships we have been able to sustain with members of funding institutions, our loyal individual donors, and our hard working board of directors also provide us with the resources that enable us to move our work forward. Without the support and belief of our partners who encourage our work and allow us to move our organization forward, we would not be able to have an impact in the communities we serve. Long-term believers in Cornerstone’s mission and leaders in the arts community, who have supported Cornerstone over the past 26 years, inspire our work and help us to continually move the needle on the issues that matter to us — such as hunger.

ARTPLACE: Are there secrets to good partnerships?

CONNEELY:  I believe the main secret to a good partnership lies within the relationship that is formed between each individual in the partnering organizations. A partnership is often viewed as an arrangement where parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. However at Cornerstone, partnerships are formed with the initial agreement to cooperate on the basis of truth, openness, and story telling. The mutual interest found in our partnerships is the human connection, and the instant bond that is formed in the exchange of stories. We partner with our community members to amplify the voices of the members of that community. Through our partnerships, we aim to increase our reach beyond our physical space to impact the issues that guide our work. At Cornerstone, we partner to learn, and the best way to learn is to listen.

PHOTO: Cornerstone Theater Company partners with Chuco’s Justice Center to host “Seed: A Weird Act of Faith

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