Three Black theatre industry veterans have joined forces to create an organization with the primary objective of increasing representation five-fold over the next decade.
The newly formed Black Theatre Coalition hails from co-founders T. Oliver Reid (a performer whose credits include Hadestown and Once on This Island), Warren Adams (choreographer of Broadway’s Motown and the in-development Born for This), and The Carlyle Group’s Reggie Van Lee (a business consultant and Kennedy Center board member). Joining the trio on the leadership team are Executive Director Afton Battle and Board Member Aaliytha Stevens.
The goal of increasing work opportunities for Black theatre professionals by at least 500 percent by 2030 across all sectors underscores the decisive lack of visibility on Broadway, where Black artists and leaders have accounted for less than one percent of the makeup of directors, choreographers, and lead producers in their respective fields.
BTC’s initial efforts are centered around three tenets. One: Mobilize, through securing partnerships with various companies and non-Black “accomplices” (including Disney Theatrical Group, MCC Theater, and the Broadway revival of Company) to encourage increased employment opportunities and paid internships and fellowships. Two: Implement, through the creation of a national database of Black theatre professionals. Three: Transform, through an annual Performance Series featuring three shows (one new play, one new musical, and one revival of a musical) each created and presented by Black artists at various stages of their careers.
BTC will collaborate with sister organizations founded in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, such as Black Theatre United, the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, and Broadway Serves, to share resources and promote common goals.
“It’s high time to end this ‘illusion of inclusion’ by reshaping the theatrical ecosystem for those who have been marginalized by systematically racist and biased power structures that have endured since the dawn of the American theatre,” Reid, Adams, and Van Lee shared in a joint statement.
Black theatre professionals are encouraged to share their information for an upcoming database initiative; for more information, visit BlackTheatreCoalition.org.