NEW YORK CITY: Maestra Music and the Miranda Family Fund have partnered to found RISE Theatre (Representation, Inclusion, and Support for Employment) with the aim of creating more equitable, inclusive hiring practices within the theatre community by centralizing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) tools and resources through a network of partners. This initiative comes along with the launch of the new tool the RISE Theatre Directory, a free national personnel directory created to promote visibility of individuals who work backstage, behind-the-scenes, and in support of theatremaking.
“RISE Theatre is a national ecosystem built with a coalition of partnership that is representative of the diverse theatremaking that exists in all corners of the United States,” said RISE project manager Adam Hyndman in a statement. “By building networks of visibility and empowering practices of equity within our industries, we are providing the field with greater tools to build progress and sustainability.”
The directory is a public service tool, available to all, created with the knowledge that amplification is particularly powerful for those who are often overlooked, including women, people of color, and folks from underrepresented backgrounds. RISE Theatre Directory allows these professionals to be discovered and identified for employment and opportunities by producers, general managers, theatres, and various employers.
RISE Theatre Directory is designed to function as a centralized hub for everyone to be counted, but aims allow employers to find more diverse candidates with functionality that empowers folks to self-identify with various identity markers. According to a spokesperson for RISE, “Within the RISE Theatre Directory’s search functionality, “Folks traditionally in the margins and at various intersections actually have the most permutations, to be found through the advanced filter option.” RISE Theatre also plans to amplify success stories and feature profiles of users from underrepresented backgrounds across its community and network.
“Staffing a theatrical production is often a daunting task, and people often miss out on hiring incredible talent because they don’t know where to look,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda in a statement. “The RISE Theatre Directory aims to level the playing field for all theatre practitioners and give underrepresented communities a place to be discovered. From crew up to general managers, the RISE directory strives to ensure that backstage staff are as diverse as the stories we write for and tell on the stage. I couldn’t be more excited to see how this directory can help foster greater collaboration and make our beloved industry more equitable.”
Directory membership is free for professionals across more than 120 job categories, including costume design, choreography, direction, hair/makeup, lighting, management, music, producing, props, scenic design/carpentry, sound, and writing among others. Members must have at least one verifiable production credit.
The RISE Theatre Network also includes a community of advocates committed to organizing, sharing their stories, building community, and holding a mirror up to theatre employers and decision makers in hopes of inspiring change. The RISE community of advocates includes director, ASL artist, and educator Brandon Kazen-Maddox; choreographer Camille A. Brown; stage manager Cody Renard Richard; stage manager Cherie B. Tay; costume/scenic designer Clint Ramos; producer/actor Danny Marin; costume designer Dede Ayite; costume designer Emilio Sosa; composer, lyricist, music director Georgia Stitt; composer/lyricist Helen Park; musician Judy Yin-Chi Lee; playwright Larissa FastHorse; songwriter, actor, director, and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda; artistic director Maria Manuela Goyanes; Meghan Abel, head of props for Barrymore Theatre/Shuberts; publicist Nina Ward; Fat Ham company/general manager Nzinga Williams; costume designer Paul Tazewell; stage manager/arts educator Peter Royston; playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes; artistic director Rosalba Rolón; producer/director Sammy Lopez; and scenic designer Wilson Chin.
“At Maestra, we have learned that the best way to combat the dangerous idea that skilled people who look like us don’t exist is to offer visible evidence that we most certainly do,” said Georgia Stitt, founder and president of Maestra Music, in a statement. “I’m so happy that RISE Theatre is now set to transform the industry, filling our workforce with skilled artists and laborers who previously had not seen the path to their employment in the theatre.”
Seed funding for RISE Theatre comes from inaugural partners the Miranda Family Fund, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Jeffrey Seller, John Gore for Broadway.com, Jordan Roth, The Nederlander Organization, Thomas Kail, and UPS Foundation, and through partnerships with the American Theater Wing and the Broadway League.
RISE Theatre’s community partners include A Broader Way Foundation, Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC), Arts Administrators of Color, Arts Ignite, BIPOC Arts, Black Stage Everything, Black Theatre Coalition, Breaking the Binary Theatre, Broadway Advocacy Coalition, Broadway Women’s Alliance, The Business of Broadway, Design Action, the Dramatists Guild of America, Harriet Tubman Effect Institute, Invest In Access, Inc., Latiné Musical Theatre Lab, The Lillys, Musicians United for Social Equity (MUSE), Open Stage Project, Inc., Prime Produce Apprentice Cooperative, Producer Hub, Ring of Keys, TEMPO (Trans & Expansive Music Professional Organization), Theatre Producers of Color (TPOC), the Industry Standard Group (TISG), tutti musicians, Women Count, and Women & Theatre.
For over 40 years, the Miranda Family Fund has championed community activism. They have created and supported institutions that have served both underserved populations in Upper Manhattan and communities throughout New York City, across the country, and in Puerto Rico.
Maestra Music, Inc. was founded by composer/lyricist and music director Georgia Stitt to give support, visibility, and community to the women and nonbinary people who make the music in the musical theatre industry. Membership is made up of composers, music directors, orchestrators, arrangers, copyists, rehearsal pianists, and other musicians who are an underrepresented minority in musical theatre.
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