Deb Sivigny, Scenic and Costume Designer and Leading BIPOC Voice

Current problems:

White supremacy and its structures are not going away. This term needs to be heard over and over.

Economic implications of low-paying internships. That practice is a huge problem keeping young artists of color out.

We are still in the 1990’s mentality about equality.

Very low percentage of people of color in leadership positions in theaters.

Theaters issuing numerous “Black Lives Matter” statements, but that is not enough. They need to be held accountable. #WeSeeYouWhiteAmericanTheater

Current Situation:

People have woken up and want, and demand change. Using this time of pause, people should be thinking about what they are going to do to effect change.

4 types of voices right now:

  1. People who are tired of talking. “Let me know when you are done.”
  2. People leaning in harder. They feel an obligation to get and stay involved.
  3. People whose heads are in the sand and want issue to go away.
  4. People screaming and yelling and very angry.

Changes Needed:

There are lots of organizations who are trying to do the right thing, but I question whether they know what the right thing is. There are lots of band aids (“one off” shows, using people of color artists for only “plays of color”, pic of one black/brown person in their brochures). White theater leaders want to go into communities and “solve the problem” or bring people to the table – THEIR table.

Those theaters that present shows about communities of color, especially those about African Americans, focus on the trauma, not joy. It is important that programming not always be about oppression, slavery, hardship, etc., but more focused on stories of joy, love and successes. We need to celebrate and move forward instead of wallowing in traumatic history.

Theater leaders need to acknowledge their position and determine what they are going to do personally to effect change.

Successes Parameters:

Need to see people of color as Artistic Director, AND Assistant Artistic Director, AND all the way down the ladder. Not just the Assistant Artistic Director.

Notable Quote:

“Acknowledge your position and determine what you are personally going to do about it to fix the problem.” “WAT – the BIPOC community doesn’t owe you the answers; do the research yourself.”

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