Leading From the Audience
A Conversation with Susan Peevy and Candelaria Silva-Collins
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.
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.