Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.
For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions.
We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2018: Sondra Ilgenfritz
Where do you work and what do you do?
I founded Atlanta Theatre To Go in 2007 with the mission of enriching the lives of senior adults by taking live performances to retirement communities. Senior centers, assisted living facilities, churches and synagogues. I served as president until I retired in December, 2017, and continue the mission by serving on the board of directors. My personal responsibility remains selecting plays for production and creating innovative programs along with the wonderful staff we have.
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
My first introduction to the arts was as a child growing up in New York City. Two older cousins took me to my first Broadway play, “The Voice of the Turtle.” I understood little of the sexual innuendoes of the plot but was instantly captivated by the audience response to live drama. Today I continue to look for the connections between people.
Following a career in advertising, I was recuperating from breast cancer when my husband saw an article about Horizon Theatre starting a senior ensemble. I had been given the gift of renewed life by skillful surgeons and decided to make it as meaningful as possible. I volunteered to write for the ensemble and with Jeff Adler’s gentle persuasion began performing, taking acting classes and play writing classes.
My career in advertising taught me to look for community needs and how to fulfill
them. With the tremendous growth in our senior population it became apparent there was a need for meaningful programming. I started Atlanta Theatre To Go in 2007 to fill that need.
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
When I read Jane Austen, I wanted to be a writer; reading Margaret Mead, an anthropologist; reading Gloria Steinem and Simone deBeauvoir, a crusader for feminism. Little did I realize that all ambitions would coalesce as a theatrical producer.
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Would love to have lunch with Cleopatra. She was a woman who used her power as the ruler of her country, but retained enough “feminem charms” to entice two powerful men – Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Considering her sad end, i would ask her if she would have done anything differently with her life, and if so, what.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
The biggest influences in my life were my two older cousins Rhoda and Shirledcy who took me to my first Broadway play and were happy to have an inquisitive little kid tagging along asking questions they answered patiently and thoughtfully.
How is art a passion for you?
Time and money control much of our lives. Where we spend both serves as a barometer of our passions. I contribute to the arts as much as possible financially and by donating many hours of my time. In personal conversations with friends and family I stress the importance of the arts in creating a culture of which we can be proud. It must have rubbed off. Both my grandchildren attended a high school of performing arts in their community.
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Give more women control of the pursestrings and we will have more women represented in the arts. Men and women each bring a distinction voice to the arts. Our creative workforce must expand enough for both voices and equal financial compensation for men and women.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The state of Georgia is either last or close to last in the nation for funding the arts. Despite this financial vacuum, I am astounded and delighted by the number of arts organizations in Atlanta and the important role of C4 in pulling us all together.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I hope to continue with my advocacy of using the arts for community service.
Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.
Facebook: Atlanta Theatre-to-Go