Know Theatre announces a Leadership Transition following Season 26
After 10 years at the helm of Know Theatre, Producing Artistic Director Andrew Hungerford will step down at the end of the 23-24 season. After 9.5 years, Associate Artistic Director Tamara Winters stepped down at the end of September 2023 to pursue other opportunities as a director and fundraiser for the arts.
Their tenure through Season 26 features 59 MainStage productions including 22 world premieres, 15 SecondStage productions, over 100 new plays as part of 14 cycles of the episodic play program Serials!, and touring educational shows as part of the Know To Go program.
The last ten years has also featured theatrical innovations and experiments including site specific project commissions like Mongrel, written and performed by Adam Tran; the immersive horror show The Other Rhine created with Hit the Lights! Theatre Co; an interactive dramatic walking tour through Eden Park called Crypsis; and Play(Under)Ground post show programming. And, of course, 10 years of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, Cincinnati’s annual celebration of
experimental performance in a Summer Theatre Party.
Over the last 10 seasons, the Know has led Cincinnati’s professional theatres in diverse representation within the authors of mainstage shows, with 54% of MainStage plays’ authorship including women and underrepresented gender identities, and 31% of MainStage plays written by BIPOC artists.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Know rapidly pivoted to create Theatre at a Distance work, enabling the company to continue its mission and provide work for local artists while indoor theatre was shut down. These projects ranged from the Radio Know audio play program, all digital and hybrid Fringe festivals, video on demand availability of archived work, and innovative pieces created specifically for digital theatre. The Know continues to be a leader in the digital realm, live streaming every MainStage production since the return to in person theatre making.
More than anything, Hungerford and Winters endeavored for their tenure to be a time of radical welcome, where making live theatre accessible to all has been the first priority. In their first season (2014-2015), the Know established The Welcome Experiment – a program that offers low-cost advance tickets and FREE walkup tickets to anyone who wants to see a show – no matter what their economic circumstances.
Since then, the Know’s pioneering sliding scale ticket pricing and commitment to a Living Wage for artists has been echoed by theatres in other markets, and has had significant impact on artists’ ability to make a living making art in Cincinnati.
Producing Artistic Director Andrew Hungerford had this to say when reflecting on his time with the Know,
When I initially took on the role as Producing Artistic Director after six years as resident scenic and lighting designer, it was an opportunity to provide service to a company and a community that I love, to continue making theatre with incredibly talented artists, and to find ways to elevate voices and kinds of work that weren’t often seen on Cincinnati’s stages.
Being Artistic Director of the Know is a dream job, the kind that could fill a career. But because I split my time between Cincinnati and a home in Los Angeles, I initially had a three year contract, thinking that would be my full tenure. And then there was more that we all wanted to do, and it turned into five years. And then seven years.
And then a global pandemic happened, and we worked to find ways for the Know, and the community we’ve built, to survive, to keep people employed (with health insurance), and to keep producing art.
Even without a pandemic, 10 years in this role always stood for me as a hard limit. Leaders at small arts organizations know that the positions can be all consuming, and there’s a big difference between having an all consuming job in one’s thirties and in one’s forties.
Through it all, I’ve had a phenomenal leadership partner in our Associate Artistic Director, Tamara Winters. We hit the ground running in the summer of 2014 and, along with the Know’s amazing staff, have done everything we can to keep the company and the work moving forward.
I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved as a company and as an artistic community over the last 10 years, the inclusive representation we’ve cultivated on and off stage, and the amazing productions and audience experiences that we’ve created.
It’s an honor to work alongside so many incredibly talented theatre artists including our Know Theatre and Cincy Fringe staff members, and a rare privilege to have had Know Theatre as my artistic home for nearly two decades. And while it’s time for me to step down from this leadership role, I hope to remain a part of Cincinnati’s artistic community for a long time to come.
Says former Associate Artistic Director Tamara Winters,
My career had, in many ways, all been leading up to the Know – this is a place I was able put my experience as an arts administrator to good use, and a place that offered me incredible artistic freedom to help choose and to direct the kinds of stories that made me want to become a theatre artist.
It’s a place that empowers artists to let their voices ring and let their imaginations soar. It’s a place where the art and the artist matter.
For me, the Know is Cincinnati’s theatrical heartbeat – it’s a place where artists and audiences can take wild leaps of imagination, together. A place where people can come as they are and experience something larger than themselves. A place where we can connect, and dream, and discover. It’s a place where everyone is welcome – no matter where they came from or what their circumstances. And it’s a place where passionate artists truly thrive.
I will be forever grateful for my time on this team, with these artists, and with this community, and I look forward to discovering what’s next for the Know.
We’re also pleased to share the following statement from the Know Theatre Board of Directors:
We have been honored with the privilege to work with the leadership team of Andrew Hungerford and Tamara Winters over the past ten seasons. Their joint commitment to creating a safe place for artists to play and create work that is relevant to the community and times that we live in should be commended.
The board of directors looks forward to continuing our work with Andrew throughout the remainder of our 26th Season as we plan for the transition to new artistic leadership at the helm of Know Theatre.
Throughout this process, we are committed to remain an independent theatre company serving the greater Cincinnati theatre scene. Our annual production of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival fosters a community environment for artists and patrons to test the boundaries of collaborative artmaking. We are committed to transparency in our process as we work with the talented staff, members of our community, and current leadership to ensure we are laying the groundwork for our successful, bright future.
As we work through this leadership transition in the coming months we are driven by Know Theatre’s mission to showcase unexpected voices, new works, and plays that embrace the inherent theatricality of the live experience, and remain a place where audiences and artists can take risks with cutting edge and accessible works. We invite you to join us in celebrating Cincinnati’s theatrical playground.
We wish Tamara the best of luck as she embarks on her next journey and look forward to her continuing to be a part of our community as an artist, audience member, and theatre maker. We look forward to celebrating Andrew’s 10 years of leadership throughout the remainder of the season. We know that his artistic voice will be heard at Know Theatre and in Cincinnati for years to come.
Know Theatre’s 26th MainStage season concludes with 3 back to back world premieres. For the end of year holidays is BLERDS by J. Corey Buckner, directed by Derek Snow. This February, Kairos by Lisa Sanaye Dring takes the stage, directed by Rebecca Wear. The MainStage season closes in April with a co-production with University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music Acting: the sci-fi musical The Light Chasers, written by Hungerford, with music and lyrics by Craig Minowa, from a story by Hungerford and Jess Hutchinson, based on the album Light Chasers by Cloud Cult. Hutchinson and Hungerford will co-direct this final show of the season. And then, of course, is the 21st Annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival, led by Fringe Producer Katie Hartman.
A search for the Know’s next Producing Artistic Director has launched, as the Know seeks leadership with a passion for new works, underserved voices, economic justice, and equitable and inclusive independent theatre that’s rooted in community, collaboration and play.
Andrew offers these closing thoughts,
In this moment, I want to thank the entire Cincinnati community for their ongoing support and their willingness to take chances on theatrical adventures that can only be made at the Know. We’ve got thrilling work to come through the rest of the season, as well as exciting shows in
development for Season 27.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve striven to be a good steward of your theatrical playground, and I’m excited to see what innovations the next leaders of the company will bring.