When Pamela Tatge became the director of the Center for the Arts (CFA) six
years ago, Wesleyan had a golden reputation in the arts. Unfortunately, not
enough people in the community – or on campus – were taking notice.
were an undiscovered gem,” Tatge recalls.” I saw the richness in this
institution and believed the resources should be shared with the community.”
Tatge would spend the first five years of her Wesleyan career raising the
public’s awareness of arts at Wesleyan. By 2004, the CFA increased its
attendance by the general public by 70 percent, while increasing student
attendance by 18 percent and faculty-staff attendance by a staggering 1,720
percent. Overall ticket sales climbed 14 percent and revenues for CFA
sponsored events went up 24 percent.
Tatge also spearheaded the development of the university’s Green Street Arts
Center, which opened in January of 2005 in Middletown’s North End. She
conducted feasibility studies, focus groups and derived the business plan.
“Nothing in my working life has been as tremendous as creating the Green
Street Arts Center,” she says. “I know the institution is here to stay, and
it will only grow and continue to assist children and adults.”
efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2003, she was awarded the Elizabeth
Mahaffey Fellowship for Arts Administration from the Connecticut Commission
on the Arts. In March, the Connecticut Dance Alliance honored Tatge and the
CFA with an achievement award.
addition, the Center for the Arts was recently named a Hub Site for the
National Dance Project in recognition for their ongoing commitment to the
creation and presentation of new dance work. As a result Tatge will serve on
the NDP Board.
these are just the extras that Tatge takes on. As director, her main duties
are to oversee programming in an arts complex that includes a theater,
cinema, two music halls and a contemporary art gallery. Offerings include
the Crowell Concert Series, the Breaking Ground Dance Series and Outside the
Box, a series of theater performances and talks, well as several
professional and student installations annually in the Zilkha Gallery.
LiLy Milroy, Dean of the Arts and Humanities program and professor of
American studies and art history says her colleague devotion to promoting
arts in the Middletown community is signaled by such projects.
think Pam is a dynamic director of the Center who has developed an exciting
and innovative program of events for the Center and has as a result
significantly raised the profile of the Center for the Arts both on campus
and in the wider community,” Milroy says. “I enjoy working with her
Working in the CFA is not Tatge’s first experience with Wesleyan’s fine
arts. After growing up in Bethesda, Md., and Milan, Italy, the bilingual
student enrolled at Wesleyan in 1980 to pursue a degree in history.
in between courses on 20th Century Europe with Professor of
History Nat Greene and psychohistory with Professor of History Phil Pomper,
she took an interest in Wesleyan’s overabundance of art, dance and music
classes. She acted in a play every semester, took several dance classes and
sang in the concert choir. These experiences, along with a year abroad in
Paris, led to a deep love for international cultures.
“These four years here were a precious time for me to take advantage of the
arts and the arts faculty here,” she says. “I aimed to be a triple threat. I
was going to be an actress, singer and dancer and I was determined to make
my fame in New York,” she says.
After graduating in 1984, she worked for two years as an actor in New York,
supporting her career by grant writing and fund-raising for several arts
organizations. In time, her home life and administrative interests in the
arts outweighed her desire to be cast in roles that would require her to
From 1989-99, she was the Director of Development at Long Wharf Theatre in
New Haven, where she spent 10 years developing the theater’s fund-raising
and community outreach programs, including mounting what was at the time,
the most successful single year fundraising campaign in the theater’s
While at Long Wharf, she ran fund-raising workshops for arts organizations
throughout the state, worked to create the Arts Industry Coalition and the
Regional Cultural Plan for Greater New Haven, and was hired by the
Connecticut Commission on the Arts to mentor first-time arts managers.
life experiences had taken me in many different directions, so I came back
to Wesleyan, looking at it through new eyes,” she says.
oversees a staff of 15, including an exhibitions curator, technical
operators, an art director, box office manager, art studio and audio-visual
technicians and the staff of the Green Street Arts Center.
She's also been recruiting artists for
Middletown Dances!, a town-wide dance festival which will feature the
Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. As a result of Tatge's efforts and the interest
of the dance and science Departments, GLSP and the Continuing Studies
Program, among others, the dance exchange will be in residency throughout
the year, culminating in world premiere of Ferocious Beauty: Genome
as part of the Breaking Ground Dance Series.
“Pam has done wonders in bringing the Green Street Arts Center to life,
establishing important arts connections between Wesleyan and its surrounding
community,” says Eric Charry, associate professor of music. “Her great
energy has helped to bring a wide array of musical events to campus that
gives Wesleyan its distinctive character.”
Tatge lives in Madison, Conn., with her husband, artist Jerry Zinser, her
two children and two step-children. She also spends time as a Madison
Foundation board member, a volunteer at her children’s schools, and attends
events that the CFA sponsors.
regrets not having the time to sing, dance or perform. However, she still
sneaks in an occasional jam session with her family.
still love to dance,” she says. “I still love to rock out.”