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Black Theatre United Hosts Industry-Wide Commercial Theatre Summit

Stage Directions • Industry News • June 29, 2021

As Black Theatre United (BTU) marks its first year since the organization’s creation, the Founding Members announce they held a three-month Commercial Theatre Summit from March to June 2021 to establish industry-wide standards around Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility & Belonging (EDIAB) with a focus on Black individuals in theatre as we move into the future.

Led by NYU Law School’s Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Director Kenji Yoshino and facilitated by BTU Founding Members, attendees included designers David Brian Brown and Cookie Jordan, Actors’ Equity Association (Mary McColl, Kate Shindle & E. Faye Butler), Local One IATSE (Eileen Macdonald, Bobby Score, Richard F. Rogers, & Wilber Graham), Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Local 798, IATSE (Daniel Dashman & Angela Johnson), representatives from The Broadway League (Charlotte St. Martin), Shubert Organization (Bob Wankel & Julio Peterson), Nederlander Organization (Nick Scandalios, Anthony LaTorella & Christina Selby), Jujamcyn Theaters (Jordan Roth & Hal Goldberg), Disney Theatrical Productions (Thomas Schumacher & Anne Quart), John Gore Organization/Broadway Across America (Lauren Reid), ASU Gammage (Colleen Jennings-Roggensack), The Telsey Office (Bernie Telsey), Tara Rubin Casting (Tara Rubin), X Casting (Victor Vazquez), Stewart/Whitley (Benton Whitley), Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (Laura Penn), American Federation of Musicians Local 802 (Pete Donovan) producers Maggie Brohn, Stephen Byrd, Kristin Caskey, Liz Curtis, Sue Frost, Alia Jones-Harvey, Tom Kirdahy, Brian Moreland, Ron Simons and David Stone, directors Mark Brokaw, Rachel Chavkin, Lear DeBessonet, Michael Greif, Jerry Mitchell, Lonny Price and Charles Randolph-Wright, choreographers Christopher Gattelli, Denis Jones and Sergio Trujillo, and composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Tom Kitt, Robert Lopez, Zane Mark and Jeanine Tesori, playwrights Lynn Nottage and Doug Wright, and music directors Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Alex Lacamoire and Stephen Oremus.

The Summit focused on devising short-term reforms to be implemented prior to Broadway’s reopening in fall 2021 and long-term reforms to be implemented in the next 1-3 years. A “New Deal” will be developed, which will detail the agreed reforms in the areas of artistic culture, policies and cultural training, pipeline initiatives, audience development and community engagement.

Passionate and committed, BTU’s founding group of technicians, stage management, producers, actors, directors, musicians, and writers,  includes: Lisa Dawn Cave, Darius de Haas, Carin Ford, Capathia Jenkins, LaChanze, Kenny Leon, Norm Lewis, Audra McDonald, Michael McElroy, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Wendell Pierce, Billy Porter, Anna Deavere Smith, Allyson Tucker, Tamara Tunie, Lillias White, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Schele Williams and Vanessa Williams.

Awareness • Advocacy • Accountability
As members of the Black theatre community, we stand together to help protect Black people, Black theatre, and Black lives of all shapes and orientations in communities across the country.  Our voices are united to educate, empower, and inspire through excellence and activism in the pursuit of justice and equality. We will tell our stories, preserve our history, and ensure the legacy of Black theatre as American culture. Join us.

This call to action is just the beginning. It was the latest manifestations of police brutality that galvanized Black Theatre United into being. With roots reaching into all 50 of the United States this coalition can harness invaluable political scope and influence. To elevate a cause or to overturn policies that target black people in any one state or community, the group will draw on members with local connections to use their visibility and influence for good in theater and on the national stage.


Further information from the Black Theatre United:

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