The following is open letter addressed primarily to theatre hiring managers, to boards of directors, to leadership search firms, and to members of the League of Resident Theatres to consider a larger, more diverse pool of candidates for an unprecedented number of leadership vacancies. To download and share the letter, go here.
The American theatre is at a crossroads of opportunity, as more than 15 theatre organizations across the country are actively engaged in an executive search for an artistic director. We are writing to you as a collective of theatre practitioners made up of individual artists, administrators, and theatres from across the nation. Together we represent a vast network of culturally diverse and dedicated professionals whose work helps to sustain the American theatre in many ways. We have been brought together as leaders for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and have committed to dismantling institutionalized racism, sexism, ableism, and all forms of structural barriers in our theatres and across the field.
One of the most effective ways to address these issues is to confront the history of exclusion and the barriers that have prevented many organizations from diversifying their programming, their staffs, their executive leadership, and their boards of trustees. Our goal is to raise awareness. For far too long, the executive leadership of many theatre organizations has remained predominantly white and male. There is a large pool of diverse, talented, capable leaders who should be considered as candidates for available leadership roles at your organization. Executive leadership in our industry should be more culturally reflective of the world we live in today.
Pertinent to your current search for a new artistic director, we strongly encourage your search committee and/or executive search consultant to assemble a diverse and qualified slate of candidates to be considered for this important role in your organization. Our hope for the field is that executive leadership candidates who are people of color and/or women will be included in the pool of people you consider for in-person interviews. We want to ensure that these qualified candidates are seen by the boards of directors and given an equitable process of consideration for positions that will impact your theatre, your audiences, and the field at large.
As practitioners and supporters of the American theatre, we are advocating for change, to safeguard the vitality and relevance of culturally diverse theatre in our country. As a collective, we have access to a vast set of resources and networks to help your organization conduct a targeted search and, if needed, assist with strengthening and implementing consistent Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion practices. We are eager to see the outcome of this important transition period for your organization, and wish you the best of luck in your search. We look forward to hearing from you.
The Black Theatre Commons
David D. Mitchell, project manager
JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell, project manager
Kelvin Dinkins Jr.
WITH ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT FROM:
League of Resident Theatres (LORT)
The Black Theatre Network
Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.
The National Cultural Navigation Theatre Project
The Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists
Arena Players, Inc.
Ma-Yi Theater Company
The Black Theatre Association (BTA), a Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
The Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust
Golden Thread Productions
Crowded Fire Theater Company
The Network of Ensemble Theaters
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
WITH INDIVIDUAL SUPPORT FROM:
Jacqueline E. Lawton
Donald R. Owens
Ralph B. Peña
Naveen Bahar Choudhury
D. Wambui Richardson
Mari Andrea Travis
Monica White Ndounou (associate professor, Dartmouth College)
Kaja Dunn (assistant professor, UNC Charlotte)
Aviva Helena Neff (Ph.D. student, Ohio State University)
Kristin Moriah (visiting assistant professor, Grinnell College)
Khalid Y. Long (doctoral candidate, UMD, College Park)
Patricia Herrera (University of Richmond)
Lauren E. Turner
Dr. Faedra Chatard Carpenter
John Clinton Eisner
Jonathan Shandell (associate professor of Theater Arts, Arcadia University)