As the nation cries out with one voice against the systemic racism that affects the daily lives of our African American brothers and sisters and grieves the violent murders of Black Americans like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade, we are faced with a moment of reckoning. A moment for honesty and open conversation about how theatrical institutions willingly or unwillingly play a role in that oppressive system. From within the walls of our beautiful historic Colony Theatre, which not too long ago was a segregated venue, we ask, what can we do to engender, foster and support meaningful and lasting progress?
Theater is about stories. Stories can be empowering. When they are not inclusive; when they do not reflect the faces of the community in which they are told, they have the power to send a message to people of color that their stories are not as important or relevant as White stories, or that their presence is a token, a checked box on a White organization’s next grant application. The plain fact is that within our community those White stories represent the minority. Miami is one of the most diverse cities in America where only 13% of its citizens are White non-Hispanic. In L.A., that number is 28%, in Chicago 31%, and in New York 32%. White non-Hispanics are a minority in each of these cities, but they are over-represented in the stories that are being told on the stages as evidenced by a slew of American Theatre articles and most-produced plays lists. This is surely the case in the South Florida theater community.
Miami New Drama was founded to create plays that feature diverse, multicultural voices and faces. We’ve worked to shed light on the imbalance in our community, but as an organization, we can do more. This moment demands thoughtfulness and introspection, and we recognize we have work to do and there are actions we can take. This is not solely about equity, diversity, and inclusion statements. This is about committing to action that will change the systemic structures that make up the exclusionary and oppressive system that is the seed for so much pain and injustice. We encourage other theater companies, associations and journalists to not just write a statement of solidarity, but to state exactly what actions they will take. We will start.
We commit to an ever-growing and changing list that includes:
- Providing anti-racism training for all staff and Board members, and extending this training free-of-charge to staff of area theater companies;
- Using our platform to amplify voices for social justice and change through our programming and educational endeavors;
- Increasing diversity and representation on our Board and staff and practicing transparent and inclusive hiring;
- Continuing to show a major commitment to Black artists and playwrights by actively seeking, encouraging, and commissioning new works by people of color;
- Working to build an American Theatre that not only celebrates Black and Brown stories, but recognizes them as treasured, essential and THE central fibers in the cultural fabric of 21st Century America;
- Continuing to call out injustice and taking actions to dismantle structured systems within the arts establishment;
We invite dialogue. We invite criticism. We will keep learning. We live in and feel this moment deeply with our community, both locally and nationally. We commit to do better because Black Lives Matter.
Michel Hausmann, Artistic Director
Nicholas Richberg, Managing Director
Jessica Kaschube, General Manager
David Scharlin, Board Chair