Arts & Theater

On the RISE: How Maestra Music is Changing the Theatre Industry

Moderator: Nancy Giles 
Panelists: Maestra Founder and Composer/Lyricist Georgia Stitt, RISE Program Manager and Producer Victoria Detres, Composer Helen Park, and Producer and Stage Manager Cody Renard Richard.

On behalf of Maestra Music, RISE Theatre, the Miranda Family Fund, and in partnership with Disney Theatrical and Kendra Scott, we hope you will join us and discover the power of visibility and community support in the theatre industry. This event is part of NY Music Month, an initiative of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

Maestra Music began in early 2017 as a series of informal gatherings hosted by composer/lyricist and music director Georgia Stitt. Georgia worked as the music director of the Off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity (directed by Leigh Silverman, orchestrated by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, starring Sutton Foster), and the difficulty that team had finding and hiring an all-female band illuminated a problem: women musicians seemed to be invisible.

The informal gatherings grew larger each month and turned into organized meetings with guest speakers. The group chose the name “Maestra” as the feminine counterpart to the traditional “Maestro,” which refers to an eminent composer, conductor, or teacher of music. Georgia hired a web designer to turn her crowd-sourced spreadsheet of women composers and pit musicians into an online directory, and musicians began to sign themselves up. Maestra was filling a great need in the theater community, linking together musical women and shining a spotlight in their direction to empower them collectively and individually.

Today, Maestra Music, Inc. provides support, visibility, and community to over 2,200 women and nonbinary Directory members who make the music in the musical theater industry. Our membership is made up of composers, music directors, orchestrators, arrangers, copyists, rehearsal pianists and other musicians who are an underrepresented minority in musical theater. The organization’s initiatives include monthly educational seminars, mentorship programs, technical skills workshops, networking events, and online resources and partnerships that aim to promote equality of opportunity and to address the many historical disadvantages and practices that have limited women and nonbinary composers and musicians in the musical theater.

Maestra’s programs have national and global reach; participants in Virtual Technical Workshops have come from 49 states and 60 countries, and Maestra has Regional Groups based in the UK, Canada, Australia, German-speaking Europe, and Mexico City, as well as in the major theater markets throughout the United States.

In the past year, Maestra’s reach has continued to grow through a partnership Directory with MUSE (Musicians United for Social Equity) and with the launch of the RISE Theatre Directory, built in partnership with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Miranda Family Fund and created for backstage, administrative, and creative professionals in the performing arts. The RISE Directory is strategically designed to amplify underrepresented artists such as women, people of color, trans, non-binary, deaf, and disabled people.

Join us at this panel discussing the importance of visibility with the creation of these Directories and learn how community is cultivated and supported through the programming offered by Maestra Music.  

We will dive into the following topics:

  • What is Maestra? The state of the industry, Maestra’s founding, what’s changed in five years
  • What is Maestra’s impact through their founding pillars of visibility, community, and support?
  • How can you support and/or leverage directories as an employer or as someone looking for a job?
  • The launch of RISE Theatre and natural evolution from Maestra’s Get to Work program 
  • Maestra/RISE Partners- pointing to viable solutions for equity in the industry 
  • Testimonials/case studies

Executive producer: Cathleen Murphy

  • NYC Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment
  • Disney Theatrical 
  • Kendra Scott Jewelry

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