The Black Theatre Coalition, a new organization co-founded by T. Oliver Reid, Warren Adams and Reginald “Reggie” Van Lee, seeks to increase employment opportunities for Black theater professionals by 500% by 2030.
The organization is beginning its efforts by establishing partnerships with top Broadway agencies and shows and identifying candidates for employment and internships. The coalition has already partnered with the Broadway revival of “Company” to hire 10 paid apprentices, in creative fields and on the producing side, when the show returns.
“We hope to adopt this model with every Broadway show,” the coalition wrote in the press release.
The Black Theatre Coalition is also working to connect with universities to identify early-career Black theater artists looking for opportunities. Eventually, the group hopes to build a national database of all Black behind-the-scenes theater professionals to promote further hiring on Broadway.
The impetus for the group came after Reid, a Broadway actor; Adams, a choreographer and producer; and Van Lee, chief transformation officer of The Carlyle Group, ran the numbers on the employment of Black theater professionals on Broadway. Since 1866, the group tallied two Black lead producers on Broadway, 10 Black Directors of a musical, 11 Black directors of a play and 17 Black choreographers.
“Once we identified just how vast the disparity is between the perceived inclusivity on stage and the utter dearth of black professionals off stage, we began outlining ways in which we could address and ultimately eradicate this invisible imparity,” the trio said in a statement.
According to the coalition, there were no Black general managers working on Broadway before the shutdown. Thanks to the coalition’s partnerships, there will be four Black general managers employed across three companies when Broadway returns.
Afton Battle, a non-profit development consultant, serves as executive director of the coalition. Aaliytha Stevens, chief operating officer at SpotCo, is a board member.
One of the coalition’s key tenets is to present an annual performance series featuring works produced, created, designed and managed by Black artists and professionals. The group has partnership with Wynton Marsalis, the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, on this measure.