Proposed Reforms For Theaters & Added Reading

Sheaun McKinney as Elmore and Ethan Henry as King Hedley II at M Ensemble / Photo by Deborah Gray Mitchell

Many people are asking what steps can theaters, funders and patrons take to address these issues. In our interviews and in other articles published across the country, here are action items that have been recommended:

— Hire artists of color as directors, music directors, choreographers, stage managers, guest artists, designers, backstage crew and office staff.
— Recruit people of color for boards of directors, administrative positions, grant evaluation panels on foundations and in government. Also seek white candidates with a track record of proactively pursuing diversity.
— Require leaders and staff to undergo anti-racism training that will help them recognize racist behavior and language.
— Regularly produce shows by playwrights of color, commission new works by them on subject matters they choose.
— Expand imaginative, color-conscious casting.
— Call out racism in society, and promote social justice in titles on stage and in school outreach programs.
— Build relationships with the all portions of the community, both to bring in audience members and to develop avenues of feedback on policies and practices.
— Educate audiences about changes in what they will see in the future through email blasts, features on websites, pre-show seminars and other avenues.
— Post materials in the theater lobbies to prompt discussions among audience members during intermissions and after-show parties.
— Urge and lobby community and government bodies to increase funding to the arts, especially projects that reflect diversity.
— Encourage the development of diverse writers to become theater critics.
—- Ensuring all audience talkbacks are led by experts in the field/community members with direct life experience related to the themes of the play or the reading.

Some insightful writing has dotted the Internet in the subject:

Lily Janiak of the San Francisco Chronicle

Kelundra Smith, Atlanta-based arts journalist and critic

The “We See You, White American Theatre” piece

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