Chil Kong, Adventure and Leading BIPOC Voice

Current problems:

Theater people with no power (i.e., freelancers) still need to be hired. They are treated even worse than Artistic Directors of Color (who DO have power) and yet they cannot speak up for risk of not being hired.

We do not have the mechanisms in place to hold theaters accountable to their statements of support.

Most theaters are still picking apart the issues but burning it down might be more appropriate. Need to unpack the diversity issues and allow everyone to participate equally in the process.

Current Situation:

Racism is not an industry issue, but a global and cultural issue. But theater industry can help figure things out.

DC theater industry is the largest in the nation outside of New York. But it is also the least diverse. Out of about 100 professional theater organizations, there are only 5 Artistic Directors of Color running non-ethnic specific companies. If they are included, there are only about 10.

Foundation of theater industry is very Eurocentric white straight male oriented. These are the roots from which theater arose.

Serious misconception the people of color not available or willing to serve on Boards.

Changes Needed:

White allies need to be ten times better than they have been. How can you be better allies and assist bringing equity within your organization and protect BIPOC people in our community.

Need to present BIPOC stories differently and tell more diverse stories. Not just trauma.

Set amount of money needs to go towards staff/Board training and customer service prep. This means ANNUAL training in both areas. Staff/Board training – essential, and NOT your freelancers. Need to be trained to treat BIPOC artists with charity and respect. And Customer Service – those who interact with the public on behalf of your organization (i.e., ushers, box office) – need to be trained to speak to people of color that is gracious and respectful that overrides their racial biases.

Successes Parameters:

Progress is not posting and reposting other’s ideas. It is being there for your friends when they need you. Actions! To be better takes efforts and posting statements is not doing the work.

See white theater leaders using the same language we Artistic Directors of Color use in the way they approach their artists of color. It is a specific language.

White community finding and identifying the problems on their own without being led by BIPOC community. Once identified, these white leaders then make improvements on their own.

See change in how their Board looks.

Whisper network changes going from mostly negative comments (where not to work) to more positive comments about how equitable theaters are.

Notable Quote:

“As a leader of color, I have to be the best of myself every time I walk in a room (which is usually white spaces) and that is exhausting. That effort is not equal with white leaders.”

“People who are least heard are black women which is strange to me since they tend to be the strongest in the room.”

“Note to all Artistic Directors: figure out how to be humble. Until you figure that out, you will not know how much you have to learn.”

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close