Elena Velasco, Convergence Theatre and Leading BIPOC Voice

Current problems:

Three main areas:

  1. Tokenism – effort to be inclusive and yet often that translates into “we will include X how on X culture for this one slot and this is the one slot where artists and designers of color will work and our outreach will occur.” But once that slot is done, the work is done. No follow through with this community.
  2. Appropriation – take a work from a particular community but then White American Theater (WAT) leads the efforts instead of people from that community. WAT needs to sit back and learn.
  3. Representation – do not see full representation of professional of color throughout the whole season instead of just in the one slot.

WAT needs to program to accommodate the community, not the Boards.

Current Situation:

When we look at the percentage of residents in DC community who primarily speak Spanish compared to only 2 theaters out of about 100 in DMV that serve the Latinx community, these numbers don’t add up.

We have reached a point of “no more” and we are going to hold WAT accountable and hold a light to your white supremacist practices.  

Changes Needed:

WAT leaders need to collaborate with professionals of color not because of three letters after their name, but rather their years of experience.

We all want to see change in a way that provides greater access, representation, equity for those who have not been seen and not been heard as they should have been.

Change needs to be measurable.

Simple change – more mentorships. Need to make sure that the next generation is the voice that demands diversity change and make sure the research looks different and not regurgitating academic structures that were there before.

Successes Parameters:

Success has to be measurable – Number of BIPOC Artistic Directors, Board and other leaders increasing.

Can we move from hierarchical leadership to something more horizontal? Need to change how decisions are made.

Notable Quotes:

“How do you feel welcome in a space where you don’t see yourself or hear yourself?”

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