Women of Pasadena: Content Creators

When artists find their audience within a local community, culture comes alive. Just ask Martine Bury and Julia Rodriguez, local content creators who are witnessing a transformation of the art world and see a duty to open doors for more women of color.
Martine Bury

Martine Bury, VP of Programming and Experiential at NeueHouse, Los Angeles and New York

Julia Rodriguez-Elliot

Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, Co-Producing Artistic Director at A Noise Within

Martine Bury: I have a journalism background; I worked in media for over 20 years. As far as women have come in the creative industries, a lot of the same problematic institutional and corporate cultures still exist. In the workplace, I think that women have to work twice as hard. There’s a legitimate concern and battle for wage equality. As a person who now has an executive position, it’s still about holding the gate open to bring in more women and more talented people who have been disenfranchised in one way or another by society. As a woman of color, it’s especially meaningful to hold a position where I can give others a hand up.

Julia Rodriguez-Elliott: I would echo all of that and add that, in the theater, especially when I first started, there were very few women in a leadership position. Women of color were almost nonexistent. I didn’t know that being an artistic director was even an option for me. I had experience with female choreographers, but never female directors. But I believe we’re living in a moment of change.

MB: I have witnessed change in the last decade or so, just in representation. NeueHouse is the work and social space for creatives, a dynamic, energetic, and safe space. As people with an arts or creative platform break boundaries, shatter glass ceilings, and switch gazes, it’s exciting to be able to reflect that back in terms of staffing and building a team with different backgrounds and experiences. We are a hub for culture, supportive community, and connection.

JRE: In the last four years, a significant number openings in the theater world have been filled by women and women of color.

Neue House

MB: Demographics are definitely changing. More female creators and creatives are at the helms of companies and the demographics of NeueHouse’s membership community mirror that shift. When building the cultural programming, the diversity of the audience in our community demands that we represent a lot of different voices. Right now, we have a women of color music residency called True Tones. Women are really the champions of bringing those voices to our stages.

I sit in a very lucky place because my work is generating creative ideas and collaborating with creative artists at all times of the day. I’m constantly managing creative projects the perspective of our businesses—creating sustainable and equitable business models that take into consideration equality and equity. As much as I’m a business person, I’m an advocate for creatives. People should be paid what they deserve, but artists always get asked all the time to do things for free.

JRE: Mmmm-hmmm.

MB: It’s tiring. I work all the time. And I work hard. But everybody who’s here is here because they’re passionate about creating a different type of world. I’m sure it’s the same in the theater.

A Noise Within

JRE: I’m consciously trying to put forward more stories by female playwrights and playwrights of color. I believe this will impact American theater in a positive way in the stories we tell and the opportunities we create. This season, we’re looking at characters on the precipice of major change. This theme ties to this moment that we’re living in. Change is in the air, some painful, some joyous, all necessary.

I work with my husband, who’s an artist, so art and life coexist in our household. We’re planning the 2022–23 season now. We’re choosing plays and we’ll have conversations at home about what we’re reading. We’ve been in Pasadena for about 10 years. This is a community that values art as essential to the well-being of their citizens. A Noise Within is a place to come challenge each other, and have in-depth conversations within our shared community.

MB: I lived in Eagle Rock for 19 years. I know Pasadena like the back of my hand. The beautiful thing about living in California is that we have access to nature in so many forms. Hiking, being by the ocean, the gardens—Descanso, Huntington—my personal great gift of self-care is finding blank space to recharge and refuel.

JRE: You have to have that space to just think and dream about future projects, not just what you’re dealing with day to day.