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Leading From the Audience

Leading From the Audience

A Conversation with Susan Peevy and Candelaria Silva-Collins

OCT 23, 2017
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Susan Peevy

Susan Peevy, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, is a sales operations and planning specialist for the U.S. Postal Service’s Headquarters in Washington, DC. Susan’s love for theatre and the arts began when she accompanied her grandmother, Mrs. Annie Peevy to art events. Her journey in bringing audiences to the arts began when she received a free ticket to a ‘papering performance’ at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. During this performance Susan noticed many empty seats for which papering invitees did not show. She reached out to the theatre and established a papering program under the heading “U.S. Postal Service”, which evolved into the “Susan Peevy Special”, bringing over 500 people to see Sophisticated Ladies by Maurice Hines at Arena Stage.

Since 1998, Susan’s love of the arts has inspired her to bring thousands of patrons to performances at the Arena Stage and other arts venues in Washington, DC where the impact of Susan’s audience can be felt and seen. She has developed and employed highly effective strategies towards church, workplace, and community outreach that has helped to reduce barriers of engagement for audiences with limited access to the arts. In honor of her grandmother, Susan began working with Mount Calvary Baptist Church’s vehicle ministry to transport Senior Citizens to the performances. She wanted to ensure the Senior Citizens would not have to worry about payment for tickets nor transportation to the performances. She worked as an advisor to the Board of Directors at Arena Stage around audience development and access during renovations of their venues and Grand Opening Celebration. Ms. Peevy often consults with arts organizations in the DC area sharing her belief that, “you never know where “Conversations from the Audience” may lead.




Candelaria Silva - Collins
Candelaria Silva - Collins connects arts and culture to community and community to arts and culture. She has done this throughout her career as administrator of the cultural economic development program, ACT Roxbury; as a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and facilitator in Boston, Massachusetts.

She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company and is Program Manager for the Fellowes Athenaeum Trust Fund of the Boston Public Library . Another recent project was creating the Door2Door to the Arts initiative for SCM Community Transportation, where she curated arts and cultural outings for senior citizens. Most recently, she visited the Jackson Medical Mall in Jackson, MS and gave them suggestions for how to enliven this incredible 900k facility with arts and cultural activities.

Candelaria was director of three non - profit programs including ACT Roxbury, the cultural economic development program of Madison Park Development Corporation. As the first director of ACT Roxbury (1998 until 2007), she conceived, planned and raised funds for its signature programs including Roxbury Film Festival, Roxbury Open Studios, Roxbury Literary Annual, and the Roxbury is Rich Holiday Shopping Guides. She provided leadership in the creation of Hibernian Hall. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook.

Candelaria’s essays, children’s stories, short stories, and reviews hav e been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. She is currently Chair, Designators of the George B. Henderson Foundation. Previously, she served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundati on for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury.



David Dower
David Dower joined ArtsEmerson as director of artistic programs in 2012 and was named co-artistic director in 2015. He is also co-founder and a contributing editor to HowlRound. Prior, he served as associate artistic director of Arena Stage (Washington, DC); and founded and served as artistic director of The Z Space Studio and co-founded and served as co-artistic director of The Z Collective (San Francisco, CA). With ArtsEmerson he directed Daniel Beaty’s Mr. Joy and Breath and Imagination, Melinda Lopez’s Mala, Baritones UnBound, and Maurice Hines’s Tappin’ Through Life. Dower earned the Inclusive Excellence Award (Emerson College); was a Gerbode Fellow (Gerbode Foundation); was named “MVP of Bay Area Theater” (San Francisco Chronicle); and was a Policy Fellow (National Endowment for the Arts). He studied at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, American University (Washington, DC) and Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Originally from Westerly, RI, David resides in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Twitter: @ddower


Victoria George
Victoria George is the Audience Lab Director at ArtsBoston where she oversees a data-driven, marketing-focused, cohort-based learning initiative that seeks to address issues of audience diversification in greater Boston. Victoria’s work around equity, diversity, and inclusion in the arts also led her to create the Network for Arts Administrators of Color (NAAC Boston). Prior to joining ArtsBoston in May 2015, Victoria worked as an undergraduate admission officer recruiting students of color and students from other underrepresented communities for Tufts University and Wellesley College. Victoria is also an actor in the greater Boston area and received her B.A. in English and Theatre Studies from Wellesley College.