Jeff Watkins, founder and Artistic Director of the Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the New American Shakespeare Tavern, recently began his two-year term as President of the international Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA). He stepped into the position at this past week's STA conference, succeeding Patrick Spottiswoode, Director of Education for Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.
"I'm enormously honored to have been elected to a leadership position with the Shakespeare Theatre Association," says Watkins. "This is a fabulous group of people. The strategic and artistic inspiration that I've drawn from this organization over past years has been instrumental in the development of my own company in Atlanta."
Begun in 1991, the Shakespeare Theatre Association was established to provide a forum for the artistic, managerial, and educational leadership of theatres primarily involved with producing the works of William Shakespeare. The group provides a year-round support network, acts as an international advocate for Shakespearean productions and training, and hosts an annual conference to discuss methods of work, resources, and other relevant issues.
Watkins points out that Spottiswoode, who just finished his two years as STA President, has left impressive shoes to fill. Under Spottiswoode's leadership the Association witnessed enormous expansion in terms of international membership and participation. In addition to member theatres from across the USA, the United Kingdom and Canada, the organization has recently welcomed members from such diverse locations as Brazil, Poland, Argentina and Australia.
STA members elected Watkins as Vice President and incumbent President during last year's conference. Beyond deepening his involvement with STA, Watkins is particularly excited about the chance to represent the city of Atlanta on the Executive Board of an international trade association. Ultimately, he hopes to continue the organization's recent legacy of expanding its reach and breadth: "I'm looking forward to even more collaboration with my colleagues across the globe."