Raymond Caldwell, Theater Alliance and Leading BIPOC Voice

Current problems:

Founding of cultural institutions – were not founded by BIPOC individuals who could hold organizations accountable as it was establishing its mission and charter. Therefore, their missions and charters do not include anti-racism.

The BIPOC document includes many of the problems in today’s theater, but nothing in that document is a surprise to any theater company in DC region.

Current Situation:

Season selections – BIPOC stories always center around trauma and pain.

Assumption that if a theater presents a BIPOC play, black and brown people will automatically come. This is a fallacy.

Changes Needed:

Organizations need to go back to the basics and reorganize from top to bottom and reimagine their missions with an emphasis on anti-racism.

Organizations need to be measured and evaluated based not by statements that their PR departments put out, but rather by their actions.

Season selection – more focus on BIPOC stories of joy and love.

Boards are responsible for these organizations. Therefore, have to intentionally diversity Boards, which will then trickle down to staffs.

Must diversify not only leadership, but also getting BIPOC in the pipeline. These groups are not receiving a fair shake at the foundational level, or in their education. Still MFA classes are mostly predominantly white.

Also, theaters need to look at corporate sponsors and not accept support from companies that do not embrace diversity in their own operations.

Successes Parameters:

Simply the numbers – have the number of POC on Board and staffs increased? Leadership positions and Board need to reflect the diversity of the community in which they are located.

Again, the numbers is their more diversity in the audience. Needs to look inclusive. Artistic leaders need to ask themselves who is NOT in the audience, why and how do I fix it?

Notable Quotes:

“It is the job of white organizations to fix the diversity problem.”

“Have to make diversity happen. It will not happen on its own.”

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