Name: Tina Manchise
Title: Co-founder and co-artistic Director of The Requiem Project: The Emery Theatre
What do you do?
I am the co-founder and co-artistic director of The Requiem Project: Emery Theatre. Co-founder Tara Gordon and I have been working for three years to stabilize, develop and revive The Emery Theatre into an interdisciplinary arts and education center. This has required an entire three years of full-time work devoted to the project. We are finally able to publicly announce the plans for the theatre at our “11.11.11 Preview of The Emery” Event, at which the amazing band Over the Rhine will perform (Karin and Linford are true angels of this theatre) along with an humbling list of artists and performers who have devoted themselves and their formidable talents to this cause. Right now, this is really all that I do and I am trying to catch my breath. Our intention for this event is to display the vision for the theatre as a viable venue, present the artistic and educational possibilities of the entire building, highlight the economic impact of a theatre of this size on the entire community and convey that it is our belief and goal that The Emery welcomes each and every person who feels they have something to say, experience or explore. Working with esteemed and deservedly renowned architects John Senhauser and Westlake, Reed and Leskosky (the team selected for the project) has assured that The Emery will re-open with the integrity with which she was created; this makes Tara and I so very proud. Basically, we do nothing but make sure that this theatre will not be lost and that The Emery will re-open for another hundred years of service to the community.
Why do you do it?
Because somehow, in some way, I know that I have to... which seems a slightly strange way to answer such a question. I can list a myriad of reasons why I am resolute about re-opening The Emery—the theatre’s priceless acoustics, its glorious history, impeccable construction and its amazing ability to serve as a hub for artistic collaboration and education, but there is something even more that drives this project. I think perhaps that it is the chance to continually restate and reclaim that there is something palpable and important about linking our history with our future, about honoring legacy, about investing in the significance of listening and in the importance of being heard, about finding value in each individual, and about allowing the arts to highlight these precepts. I believe it returns to resonance for me; there is no better place in the country to speak of the resonance of personal voice and expression than The Emery Theatre. I guess that is why I do it. At least, I believe it to be so. Ultimately, I do it because my parents taught me to stand up for what I believe in and I do very much believe in the value and contributions The Emery is poised to offer Cincinnati. On a very personal level, my work is a tribute to my mother, who I lost because someone did not listen; with that loss, I made a commitment to her that her values would continue to resonate. Within that vast and very dark hole that was created in my life, I decided to dedicate the filling of that space with the creation of a place devoted to fostering creativity and allowing voices to be heard.
Moving home from New York City has helped me to realize all of the tremendous assets Cincinnati has to offer. Perhaps the most significant answer to “why Cincinnati” is the people with whom I work. Their intelligence, passion, skill, insight and talent will keep me tethered to Cincinnati for a very, very long time—and for that I consider myself blessed. Cincinnati has a striking mix of people that I am fortunate enough to call friends and colleagues. It is the people who live here that make this city a place that I am honored to live.
What do you love about the city?
The people. I am in awe of the talent here. Many people I have met inspire me daily. The people, to me, are Cincinnati. I also love being close to my family, which is very important to me.
What are you trying to change about the city?
I am trying to change the status of a historic theatre. The Emery is one of only three in the entire country. Three. As a community, I think we are poised to save The Emery; I think that to do anything otherwise would really be a shame. As The Requiem Project: The Emery, we have devoted our time to making sure that this theatre will fill a gap currently in the city and we have committed to making sure that the theatre is able to reopen with a vision, plan, and sustainable programming. That has not been a small endeavor and we have strategically been planning for the success of this effort. Opening The Emery is not only about getting the doors open but also, making sure that they stay open for many, many years to come.
A full-scale re-opened Emery with diverse, innovative, and dynamic programming. This vision would most certainly include the hiring of our fantastic team—forever. I truly think that they could run the world.