In October 1987, The Actors Co-op was founded to empower area actors by providing increased employment opportunities and promoting professional growth.
Co-founders Linda Libby, Annie Hinton, David Novak, and Philip Sneed were four “local heavyweights,” as the San Diego Union Tribune referred to them, who perceived a need for a professional support organization for actors in their city, similar to those found in other centers for regional theatre such as SHARES in Ashland, Oregon and REACT in Seattle, Washington. Veteran actors Sneed and Hinton had been involved with SHARES and REACT respectively.
The first objective of the organization was to secure more employment opportunities by arranging visits to San Diego from artistic and casting directors from theatres across the country. In the first year of operation, the organization also established a regular monthly newsletter, maintained an actor hotline with frequent updates on professional employment opportunities, secured substantial member discounts at fifteen area theatres, and provided free auditionworkshops in addition to participating in collaborative ventures with the San Diego Playwrights Project and San Diego State University.
During the early growth of the organization, the older, more established San Diego Theatre League (now known as the San Diego Performing Arts League) operated as the fiscal receiver and offered the organization non-profit status.
Timeline of Accomplishments
1990 – A five-year plan was established and the first annual All-City Auditions were held. The organization moved into a 5,000 square foot facility that housed the office and the newly established Actors Center containing a callboard, library and rehearsal space available for members to rent for a nominal fee.
February 1991 – The first annual Actors Festival was held, a two-week event featuring some thirty one-act plays and employing sixty or more actors.
December 1991 – The organization received it’s 501(c)(3) status and officially changed it’s name to the Actors Alliance of San Diego.
October 1992 – For its fifth anniversary, the OnBookOnStage Playreading Series was established.
March 1993 – Following the five-year plan established in 1990, the organization moved the Actors Center uptown.
January 1998 – Managing Director, Suzanne Oswald joined the staff.
March 1998 – The Actors Festival included a new feature, “Kids Night Out” evenings, programming developed especially for children and family audiences.
April 2000 – AASD moved into their location on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights. Actors Alliance in conjunction with the Institute for Arts Education toured a 45 minute assembly program called “Theatrical Fantastical”.
July 2002 – Long time employees Rosina Reynolds and Gerry Maxwell leave the organization to pursue professional theatre careers, paving the way for managing director Suzanne Oswald to re-organize and hire two new employees- Erin Cronican and Jennifer Austin.
March 2003 – Erin Cronican is elected as a member of the Actors’ Equity liaison committee, representing the Actors Alliance in helping San Diego’s union actors find more frequent and fulfilling work.
September 2004 – Plans begin for establishing San Diego’s first International Fringe Festival, with proposed debut in September 2006. Heading the effort was longtime AASD member, Todd Blakesley, as well as staff members Suzanne Oswald and Erin Cronican.
September 30, 2004 – Ends their 17th fiscal year with a record number of paid members (517) and a record budget of just under $100,000 annually.
August 2005 – Erin Cronican (Communications & Member Services Director) and Jennifer Austin (Program Director) steps away from the Actors Alliance to move to New York and Los Angeles, respectively. Suzanne Oswald remains as Managing Director and brings on two new hires: Shauna Ostrom as Communications Director and Jason Heil as Program Director.
December 2006 – AASD moved into their present location at the NTC Promenade in Point Loma.
July 2007 – Final Festival and OnBookOnStage Reading. Program Director position eliminated.
April 2008 – New Website launched with online profiles and automated posting available 24/7
January 2009 – Sue Oswald resigns; Shelly Breneman joins staff as Executive Director with the goal of starting new programs in Community Outreach and Education.
March 2010 – Moved from NTC to Virtual Office to reduce overhead, in addition to creating a partnership with APA studios for use of rehearsal space for workshops and programs.
July 2010 – New Annual Summer Musical Theatre Intensive for students age 11-18
April 2011 – Began a partnership with ContAct Arts to produce an annual talent showcase called Encore
July 2012 – New Annual Summer Performing Arts Workshop for students age 7-10
July 2013 – New Annual Summer Musical Theatre Academy for advanced students ages 11-18
October 2013- Shauna Ostrum (Communications Director) and Shelly Breneman (Executive Director) steps away from the Actors Alliance of San Diego to pursue careers at the Welk Resort. Bryan Stanton assumes the role of Managing Director of Actors Alliance of San Diego.
November 2013- Featured Member program launched to highlight the working members of Actors Alliance of San Diego.
February 2014- New Artist Development Program is launched in collaboration with San Diego Playwrights and the San Diego Fringe Festival.