We’re Better Together

By    Jul 15, 2015

HowlRound is a commons by and for theatremakers. No one owns a commons, it exists for the benefit of all, and the role HowlRound plays is not one of curator, but rather of steward, of enabler. We believe in operating from a place of abundance, rather than scarcity. We believe that there is enough for everyone, and promote collaboration over competition.

All HowlRound platforms and programs (an online journal, livestreaming television channel, interactive data map, in person convenings, etc.) are designed to create openness, knowledge-sharing, and radical transparency. They are open-source, and we crowd source all of our content. We provide a shared infrastructure through which theatremakers can contribute their knowledge, experiences, frustrations, and dreams with their peers across the nation and around the world. The word HowlRound is a technical term for the sound that’s created when a microphone is placed next to an amplifier—it’s feedback. A good metaphor for all we do.

Anyone can write for the HowlRound journal, and we pay everyone for their contribution. The articles we publish do stand alone, but we like to think of them as inciting incidents for community-wide conversation, debate, and discourse. Anyone can livestream an event or performance on HowlRound TV. We provide technical training and support, and help to get the word out about the event. HowlRound TV provides a window into events happening all over the world, and removes financial and geographic barriers to attendance. The result is an ever-growing video archive of performance and current practice, available for free on-demand viewing. Because of the way our platforms are designed, no voice is privileged over any other—anyone can raise their hand and participate, no matter their title, or perceived status.

The results of our work to date have been staggering, beyond what we had dreamed of when we founded HowlRound almost five years ago. The New Play Map features over 3,000 theatres, and over 7,000 events. We recently livestreamed an event that had over 1,000 people tuning in from 38 countries. We’ve featured content from artists all over the globe, many of whom have been traditionally on the margins or lacking representation in mainstream theatre discourse. In May, over 50,000 people visited the website.

The basic premise of HowlRound is simple: that we are better together than apart—that if we pool our knowledge resources effectively, all boats will rise with the tide, and theatre everywhere will be better for it. We hope HowlRound is serving to empower theatre practitioners, to make work that matters to them in the best way they know how, and to share it with the field for the benefit of all.