New York City Investing $2 Million to Increase Diversity in its Nonprofit Theaters

The Theater Subdistrict Council of New York City has announced a $2 million allocation in grants to increase diversity in nonprofit theaters. The funding is designed to cover the costs for training and mentorship programs at four New York arts organizations: Roundabout Theater Company, the New York Theater Workshop, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Harlem Stage. Of these organizations, Harlem Stage is the only organization listed that is led by a person of color and whose mission is to serve artists of color.

This action is in response to the findings from a study published last January by the Cultural Affairs Department that found work force demographics didn’t reflect the demographic diversity of the city’s own population. Although New York arts organizations are more diverse than the national average, the survey found that the City’s cultural work force is 61.8 percent white, 35.4 percent minority groups, and 53.1 percent female, while the city’s residents are 33 percent white and 52 percent female, according to the 2010 U.S. census. In the world of nonprofit theater, the difference is even more “dramatic,” with the survey identifying 70 percent of its work force as white.

The city hopes to provide a fast track to administrative and backstage careers in areas such as administrative work, lighting, ticket sales and production by funding two $200,000 training initiatives: BRIC for training programs in arts management, and Teatro SEA for education in technical training.

The Theater Subdistrict Council is made up both of city officials, like Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as artists including Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Meshell Ndegeocello’s CAN I GET A WITNESS: THE GOSPEL OF JAMES BALDWIN at the Gatehouse Theater, Harlem Stage

Click here to read about the NY Cultural Affairs Dept.’s survey

2 thoughts on “New York City Investing $2 Million to Increase Diversity in its Nonprofit Theaters

  1. 2 Million dollars for diversity and only one theater is a theater of color? Where is the equity in that? It would make sense to grant the money into the community that actually serves people of color! If the money went into the community – the community itself could increase and deliver opportunities for diversity. Jackie Taylor – Chicago

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    1. Yeah, it is an interesting circumstance. Although Teatro SEA, a Latino technical training institution, is receiving $200,000 the majority of the funds are going to PWIs. The truth is this initiative is designed to address a “white people’s problem” that effects POC. White people hire white people. That’s the reason for the lack of diversity. This program is going to train a bunch of POC, hire a few, but it’s not going to fix the problem because the the real reason for the hiring statistics has absolutely nothing to do with finding qualified and well-trained minority applicants.


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