Arts & Events » Arts and Culture

New Voices, New Stories

An interview with the new manager of historical education for the Maymont Foundation.

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It can be tough to keep track of all the hats Lucretia Anderson wears.

Currently she’s appearing as Antonio in Quill Theatre’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” a role she accepted before Maymont Foundation named her its new manager of historical education.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover she founded Joyful Muse, where she’s a certified life, energetic and spiritual coach who also does anti-racism coaching. And that’s after years spent working as a middle school teacher, drama coach and museum educator.

Anderson will bring all of that and more to her new position telling the story of the Dooleys, who owned and lived at Maymont, but also the stories of Francis Twiggs Walker, William Dillworth and countless others who were integral members of the greater Maymont community. It’s all part of Maymont’s goal, and Anderson’s job, to educate guests about Maymont’s Black employees and their contributions during the oppressive Jim Crow era.

Recently, Anderson shared thoughts on her new job with Style Weekly.

Style Weekly: What does your new position involve?

Lucretia Anderson: Maymont is planning to reopen the mansion for tours later this summer. We’ll also be developing new programming for schools in connection with Maymont’s African American Voices Initiative. My role entails working with our team to develop programming to engage our visitors with a fuller picture of the history of Maymont and the Richmond community. I’ll manage the historical tours, help facilitate guest engagement in the mansion and the active learning center and assist with community events.

Talk about the anti-racism work you've been doing.

I began blending mindfulness and anti-racism coaching as part of my coaching work [Anderson is founder of Joyful Muse, where she is a certified life, energetic and spiritual coach] in response to calls for social justice and racial reconciliation in summer 2020. I currently facilitate compassionate anti-racism and equity training for affinity groups, small companies and organizations and help guide parents in this arena through group coaching.

How do your years as a teacher serve you in this new capacity?

While my official titles at Orchard House School were English and theater faculty, I more often referred to myself as a humanities teacher. I often collaborated with our history teacher on oral history and other projects, including a study of our community as we engaged in conversations around Richmond’s racial history. My driving force in education has always been to help students, and anyone who will listen, to understand the importance of exploring how we have in the past told our human story and empower them to tell theirs. This will be important as we begin the process of bringing new stories and voices to the forefront of the Maymont experience. The foundation of my work as a teacher was to grow empathy, understanding, appreciation and a sense of wonder through the lens of many perspectives. I’m hoping I can help accomplish the same at Maymont.

How has museum programming changed since you were elementary program coordinator at the Folger Shakespeare Library?

There have been so many innovations in how museums present their collections and how they engage, particularly with young people. Oftentimes, exhibitions are curated to be more hands-on and inclusive of diverse perspectives. Since my time at the Folger, technology has provided greater access to resources and allowed museums to get even more creative in allowing for a richer experience for their visitors.

What excites you most about this new stage of your career?

Joining a team with a clear mission and purpose to elevate the experience of a place I’d already grown to love. I’ve always had such great enthusiasm for the special way that museums, house museums and educational centers help to elucidate the human experience. It’s also very rewarding to be in a place in my career where my work experiences and life interests are coming together.

Tell us about your work with Spectrum.

For the past two years I’ve served as co-director of Spectrum Queer Youth Theater, a program developed in collaboration with the Conciliation Lab (formerly TheatreLab), SPARC and Richmond Triangle Players. It’s an LGBTQ+ youth empowerment program that gives students the opportunity to be in a community of writers, performers and other theater-makers to devise and produce performances centered on their voices and perspectives.

Will you still act in local productions?

Well, I’m currently appearing in Quill Theatre’s Richmond Shakespeare Festival at Agecroft Hall through mid-August. After that, my primary time and attention will be on the success of programming at Maymont, coaching, and continuing to write. I don’t anticipate hitting the boards again for quite some time.

Where do you see Richmond in 2021 in terms of racial reckoning?

I think more and more folks in Richmond are refusing to turn a blind eye to the need for our community to heal around racial trauma. There’s still much discomfort around broaching the topics of racial equity and inclusion, a sense of fatigue around continuing to have the uncomfortable conversations and take the necessary actions that will lead to impactful, long-lasting change. But I do see that there’s hope as cultural institutions and social justice movements in particular, continue to forge ahead and chip away at creating a more inclusive, welcoming, justice-oriented and equitable space for all.

It’s an incredible time to be alive and bear witness to.