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Pamela Tatge is Director of the Center for the Arts and spearheaded the development of the Green Street Arts Center.
 
Posted 05.02.05

Center for the Arts Director Brings the Arts to Campus, Town

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.

“We 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.”

Her 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.

In 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.

But 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.

“I 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 immensely.”

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.

But 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 travel.

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 history.

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.

“My life experiences had taken me in many different directions, so I came back to Wesleyan, looking at it through new eyes,” she says.

She 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.

She regrets not having the time to sing, dance or perform. However, she still sneaks in an occasional jam session with her family.

“I still love to dance,” she says. “I still love to rock out.”

By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor