I was lucky enough to be invited to the Network of Ensemble Theaters' National Gathering and Symposium at no cost beyond my AirBNB (which had a cat. His name was Joe).
It was a really important event for me because, not only did it teach me many tangible actual tools of creating democratic and ensemble-based art, it showed me this is a viable and tangible way of making work. I've recently been struggling with the hierarchy of traditional art-making as someone who recognizes my preference and indeed thrives off of collaboration and sharing. I feel that while there may be talk of non-traditional hierarchies, if the production itself supports the current popular/accepted/whatever agenda of the big regional theatres, then there will continue to be that unfair distribution of power and artistic agency. It will continue to be the director's show and we will continue to devalue the work done by other members of the collective group. But that doesn't need to continue to be the case, I learned as I was exposed to this vibrant group.
In addition to the focus on democratizing, decolonizing, and creating an equitable way of creation, additional topics were accessibility and consent, especially with regards to audience interaction or breaking down the first wall, which is vitally important in not only the work I personally do, but as we continue to try and be inclusive and considerate of our audiences.
It gave me a lot to think about that I am still working through. It also really inspired me, so expect to see me generating my own work in the near future.