After announcing its New Deal for Broadway in June, Black Theatre United has released the document of industry-wide standards, the outcome of a five-month summit composed of industry leaders.
The New Deal lays out several reforms and initiatives—both short-term objectives as Broadway readies to reopen following the coronavirus shutdown and long-term measures to be implemented over the next three years. Items cover such topics as pipeline initiatives, policy training, and community engagement.
Participants in the summit—each included as signatories on the original release of the document, include theatre owners (such as Jujamcyn, Nederlander Organization, The Shubert Organization), producers (Tom Kirdahy, Alia Jones-Harvey, Brian Anthony Moreland, David Stone, and more), unions (from Actors’ Equity to IATSE Local One), creatives (including composer Jeanine Tesori, director Rachel Chavkin, and playwright Doug Wright), and casting directors (the offices of Stewart/Whitley, Bernard Telsey, Tara Rubin, et al).
BTU was founded in June 2020, against the backdrop of protests in the wake of the killing of Black individuals at the hands of police, by a cohort of Black theatre artists including Billy Porter, Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Allyson Tucker, and Vanessa Williams. Its mission is “to help protect Black people, Black talent, and Black lives of all shapes and orientations in theatre and communities across the country.”
Among the key reforms outlined in the New Deal are:
- The implementation of a mandatory, industry-wide EDIAB training, to launch digitally within the next 12 months, with contracts in place with training vendors by December
- Additional in-person training programs on an annual basis geared for theatre staff, cast and crew, individual unions, and casting directors.
- Each of the three major Broadway theatre owners (Shubert Organization, Nederlander Organization, and Jujamcyn) will name at least one of its theatres after a Black artist. Currently, Jujamcyn owns and operates the only Broadway venue named after a Black artist: the August Wilson Theatre (home to the newly opened Pass Over)
- The hiring of a racial sensitivity coach, a role similar to that of an intimacy director, on select productions
- Audits of each union’s staff and board to identity areas of potential bias
- The appointment of a chief diversity officer, or the counsel of external consultants, among each union
- A promise from director and writer signatories to never assemble all-white creative teams
- Twice-annual meetings through 2024 between signatories and BTU to address progress and additional commitments
For more information and the complete document, visit BlackTheatreUnited.com.