BTC is a network of theatre practitioners who self-identify as members of the African Diaspora. We activate our collective resources to amplify, nurture and support the work of Black theaters and practitioners through advocacy, convening, networking and knowledge-sharing.
Our objective is to create and implement actionable strategies that support Black theaters and Black practitioners. It’s crucial that we preserve, sustain and create places where the narrative of black people (people of African descent) can be reclaimed and reshaped. It’s also important to provide black practitioners, technicians, academicians and administrators with more job opportunities, professional development, and fluid access to a global network.
The American Theatre is experiencing an unprecedented shift in executive leadership. This shift creates an opportunity for our national community to dismantle exclusionary hiring practices, at some of our most prominent institutions. Executive leadership in our industry should be more culturally reflective of the world we live in today.
Black Theatre Commons created a Letter to the Field sent to all theatres with open Artistic and Executive Management positions in October 2017.
The American Theatre is at a crossroads of opportunity as over 15 theatre organizations across the country are actively engaged in an executive search for an Artistic Director. We are writing to you as a collective of theatre practitioners made up of individual artists, administrators and theaters from across the nation. Together we represent a vast network of culturally diverse and dedicated professionals whose work helps to sustain the American theatre in many ways. We have been brought together as leaders for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and have committed to dismantling institutionalized racism, sexism, ableism, and all forms of structural barriers in our theaters and across the field.
One of the most effective ways to address these issues is to confront the history of exclusion and the barriers that have prevented many organizations from diversifying their programming, their staffs, their executive leadership, and their boards of trustees. Our goal is to raise awareness. For far too long, the executive leadership of many theatre organizations has remained predominantly white and male. There is a large pool of diverse, talented, capable leaders that should be considered as candidates for available leadership roles at your organization. Executive leadership in our industry should be more culturally reflective of the world we live in today.
Pertinent to your current search for a new Artistic Director, we strongly encourage your search committee and/or executive search consultant to assemble a diverse and qualified slate of candidates to be considered for this important role in your organization. Our hope for the field is that executive leadership candidates who are people of color and/or women will be included in the pool of people you consider for in-person interviews. We want to ensure that these qualified candidates are seen by the Boards of Directors and given an equitable process of consideration for positions that will impact your theatre, your audiences, and the field at large.
As practitioners and supporters of the American theatre we are advocating for change, to safeguard the vitality and relevance of culturally diverse theatre in our country. As a collective, we have access to a vast set of resources and networks to help your organization conduct a targeted search and if needed, assist with strengthening and implementing consistent Equity, Diversity and Inclusion practices. We are eager to see the outcome of this important transition period for your organization, and wish you the best of luck in your search. We look forward to hearing from you.
The Black Theatre Commons
David D. Mitchell
Dr. Shondrika Moss-Bolden
Kelvin Dinkins Jr.
League of Residential Theatres (LORT)
The Black Theatre Network
The National Cultural Navigation Theatre Project
The Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists
Arena Players, Inc.
Ma-Yi Theater Company
The Black Theatre Association (BTA), a Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
The Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust
Golden Thread Productions
Crowded Fire Theater Company
The Network of Ensemble Theaters
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Apollo Theater
Jacqueline E. Lawton
Donald R. Owens
Ralph B. Peña
Naveen Bahar Choudhury
D. Wambui Richardson
Mari Andrea Travis,
Dr. Monica White Ndounou
Dr. Donatella Galella
Aviva Helena Neff
Dr. Kristin Moriah
Dr. Kellen Hoxworth
Khalid Y. Long
Lauren E. Turner
Dr. Faedra Chatard Carpenter
John Clinton Eisner
Nijeul X. Porter
Brian James Polak
We are currently aiming for a launch date of June 3rd!