Things are really stirring at the Yard. They have a new cadre of folks and a substantial new grant that promises great things for their upcoming season.
Yard executive director Chloe Jones is optimistic about being able to return to offering community classes in their open-air studio as well as re-energizing their education programs, including the Kids Do Dance program, a summer series for youth that the Yard had to put on hold because of COVID. “We are heading into a really exciting year, kicking off our 50th anniversary celebrations this summer,” says Chloe Jones, the Yard’s executive director. “We have a remarkable line up of artists we’re working with.”
One of the things that will help the Yard move forward is their recent award of $100,000 they received as one of the 567 arts organizations in the U.S. to be awarded a National Endowment for the Arts’ American Rescue Plan grant.
In terms of staff, the Yard has been busy onboarding three dynamic new members to the team. Yvonne Mendez is joining the Yard in a new position, collaborating with Jones to provide leadership in the artist residencies that support the development of new work, public performances, education, and community engagement, as well as in establishing new opportunities into their next chapter.
Mendez, who just moved here full-time after summering on the Vineyard since the 1990s, brings 30 years of experience working at the intersection of art making, community building, education, and activism. She has curated programs and produced special events that create spaces for diverse interactions and broad learning, including interactive conversations, community gatherings, concerts, master classes, workshops, and class visits. “I see myself as having a lot of experience in arts administration and want to rebuild the engagement programs at the Yard and reach new audiences and communities,” Mendez says. “I’m hoping to play a big role in wherever the Yard is going in the next couple of years.”
Jennie Isbell Shinn has joined the team as a grant writer and researcher. “She has joined us as the grant writer and researcher and is another amazing addition to the team,” Jones says. “I can already see that she’s contributing so many new and inspiring ideas to how we find support for our work.”
Shinn describes her path to the Yard to the Times: “In the mid 1990s, I entered the field of fundraising unintentionally due to a transferable skill set that opened the door for me to work in a planned giving office at a large university,” Shinn said. “I moved from that role into prospect research and expanded into ‘everything but the ask’ roles in development for the next decade, eventually finding my way to soliciting gifts. “When we first moved to the island in 2015 as new parents, I kept some consulting clients, but eventually made the choice to work part-time and locally, and found that grant writing, grants administration, and research fit both my skill set and my quest for work-life balance.”
Andrea Sala worked last summer as the assistant production manager at the Yard and has rejoined the team as interim production manager. In this position, she currently overlooks all aspects of production for the Yard, which means contracts, budgeting, and company management — arranging travel dates, accommodations, and any special needs. Sala will be segueing into the role of lighting supervisor, which includes being a company’s lighting designer, working with an existing one, or implementing existing plans.
Sala moved to Boston about five years ago for school and ended up falling in love with the city. Originally a trained dancer, she stumbled into production and says lighting design became a way to stay connected to that aspect of herself. Sala does dance professionally in Boston, but lighting design is how she makes her living. Like last summer, she will be living on-Island when working with the Yard.
The Yard seems well-equipped for a great 2022 season. “We have a bunch of really incredible artists coming this summer,” Sala says. “There is something for everyone, even if you don’t know anything about dance. These artists have phenomenal shows that will impact you no matter what your background is.”
Until then, you can check out some videos about what happens behind the scenes at the Yard on their website at dancetheyard.org/behindthedance.