Natalie Graves Tucker, BlackstageDC and Leading BIPOC Voice

Current problems:

Theaters do one black show during their season usually during Black History Month.

Serious disconnect between marketing in order to diversify audiences. Headshots are usually of white actors and press releases only talk about white actors.

WAT leaders say they don’t know where these professionals of color are and can be found.

Current Situation:

Audiences are primarily white. There has been some progress made by some theaters who are presenting stories of color that are positive. 

Board of Directors and staffs are majority white so the seasons are going to look very white. 

Formation of the Black Artists Coalition set up to work with theaters who have put out statements of support achieve more equity.

Changes Needed:

Professionals of color need to know about opportunities and WAT needs to seek artists and professionals outside their comfort bubble. Can’t always use the people have always been using. Need to know theaters are interviewing people of color. Need to change and make more transparent theater hiring practices.

Theaters have to reach out to communities of color and be partners with them, not just look at them as patrons and dollar signs.

Needs to be more transparency in season planning and note that August Wilson is not the only playwright of color.

There needs to be equal pay between actors of color and white actors.

Successes Parameters:

Number of BIPOC Board members, staffers with decision-making authority (i.e., Administrators, Artistic Directors) and designers needs to go up.

Large percentage of audiences need to be people of color because they are seeing shows that they are interested in.

Need to see black actors acting in more than just “black” shows.

Need to present more diverse stories about people of color, not just traumas.

Notable Quote:

“I’m hopeful that theaters will take note and take this time when there are no productions to actually learn from what they are saying (in their statements of support) and move forward in a positive direction.”

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