COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND RACIAL EQUITY ARE STILL THE ONLY INFLUENCES ON THEATRE ARTS THAT MATTER IN 2021.
At this point in the re-inventing of Broadway post-pandemic, I think the following three articles explain the current thinking in the theatrical community:
From American Theatre’s Rob Weinert-Kendt
“The cautionary if not quite bad news is that [theater] will definitely not come back all at once in all U.S. cities and venues, and Broadway … is likely to be the last to reopen. We need not only to prepare for this uncomfortable fact, but to consider what it might mean for the performing arts to reorient their priorities. Could the center of gravity in the American theatre shift from Broadway and New York City, and might that not ultimately be a healthy development?”
Seven months after the release of the We See You, White American Theater (WSYWAT) letter, an accountability report has been published, acknowledging over 100 theatre organizations across America that have responded to the BIPOC demands of the community. “There have been considerable actions in the industry toward equity, anti-racism, and the dismantling of white-supremacy in the American theatre,” the report finds.
WSYWAT’s research includes a list of predominantly white institutions (such as theatres, training programs, talent organizations, PR offices, union locals) that have taken action to create more equitable spaces. Each company’s action plan is laid out within the report, with WSYWAT urging “if these institutions are in your region, keep yourself updated and keep them accountable. These are their words—hold them to it.”
Among those listed are Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Signature Theatre, Alley Theatre, Goodman Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Trinity Repertory Company, Woolly Mammoth, The Yale School of Drama, IATSE Theatrical Wardrobe Union Local 887, and William Morris Endeavor. WSYWAT acknowledged it did not have the capacity to research the entire industry, so some organizations might be left off of the list. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be added.
Also of note is the original letter that was initially signed by over 300 Black, Indigenous, and people of color theatre workers now has 104,600 signatures. In addition, the collective pointed out that the Broadway League still has not responded to the demands released July 8, nor to any outreach that the collective has made since July 27, 2020.
From Broadway News’ Caitlin Huston – “Employment among New York City workers in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors fell 66% between December 2019 and December 2020, according to a new report from the New York State Comptroller. The drop to 34,100 jobs from 87,000 jobs in the year prior marks the largest employment decline out of all sectors in the city’s economy.
“This sector is the only major employment sector in New York City that remains below half of its pre-pandemic employment levels,” the report reads. Leading up to the pandemic, employment in the sector had been growing. From 2009 to 2019, employment grew by 42%, outpacing the 30% growth rate across the total private sector. In 2019, the average salary among actors in the city was $65,756, with musicians and singers bringing in $43,966 and theater or personal services managers making an average of $98,335.”