The arts and culture industries remain largely at a standstill in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, affecting millions of workers in an already delicate ecosystem. The Broadway Community Project, from industry veterans Greg Schaffert, Tiffani Gavin, Situation Interactive, and Playbill, was developed to shed light on the myriad fields and roles that go into making the curtain rise.
In this new series, we shine a spotlight on the faces you may not see on stage, but are nevertheless critical in creating and maintaining a theatre production. These are just some of the arts workers who have put their stamp on an industry that contributed over $14.7 billion to the New York economy in 2019 and $877 billion in value added nationally; these are just some of the arts workers in need of relief legislation and a recovery plan.
Today, meet Donna Walker-Kuhne, a multicultural marketing consultant and founder of the boutique audience development agency Walker International Communications Group. Having worked previously as a dancer, a lawyer, a professor, and a writer, Walker-Kuhne draws on her varied experience to foster theatre audiences, focusing primarily on outreach to the Black community and other people of color. Learn more about her and her line of work below.
Click here to explore the Broadway Community Project map in full (or submit yourself to be added).
Name: Donna Walker-Kuhne
Title: President, Walker International Communications Group
What is a typical day like for you on the job?
Attending meetings, building promotional campaigns, and executing promotions.
What’s your professional life like during the coronavirus pandemic?
My focus has been on social justice programming and training of staffs in equity and diversity inclusion workshops.
What’s the most challenging aspect of being a marketing consultant?
Expectations and budget don’t usually meet, and insufficient resources to execute campaigns needed to engage diverse communities.
Did you have a mentor while developing your career?
I had three: Larry Philips, Arthur Mitchell, and George C. Wolfe.
What are some of your favorite shows you’ve worked on?
Working on Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk was life-changing. Also: Stick Fly, Gem of the Ocean, Thurgood, Once on This Island, and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.
How would you like to see audience development evolve in the future?
I’d like to see more people of color in leadership and executive positions. And sustained engagement in communities of color outside the run of the show.
What advice do you have for aspiring audience developers?
Be proactive, tenacious, follow-up, and deliver the expected result with aplomb!
What does it mean to you to be a part of the theatre community?
It’s the opportunity to support and engage in the creation of stories and ensure that people of color have access to the experiences.
How can people learn more about your work?
Read my book, Invitation to the Party: Building Bridges to Arts, Culture and Community.