Broadway Advocacy Coalition Announces Reimagining Equitable Productions Program
May 26, 2021
The Reimagining Equitable Productions workshop is set to work with Broadway companies to address racial equity within rehearsal rooms and productions as shows reopen.
The Broadway Advocacy Coalition (BAC) announces the launch of its newest program, Reimagining Equitable Productions (REP). Created to address the many safety and equity concerns raised last summer, BAC will initially work with the companies of Company and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Disney Theatrical Productions will be working with BAC on a customized pilot process alongside members of the companies of Aladdin (Broadway), Frozen (Tour), and The Lion King (Broadway & Tour).
The Reimagining Equitable Productions (REP) program will develop custom workshops designed to address the ways that racial inequalities pervade the rehearsal rooms and performance spaces of the American Theatre.
In response to the issues identified during the Broadway for Black Lives Matter Again Forum and We See You WAT, BAC has created a process inspired by its Theater of Change course at Columbia Law School. The program leads companies through a process of understanding internal patterns of inequity, developing new ways of collaborating, and generating individualized and collective plans for meeting those aspirations and currently unmet needs.
“The industry is finally awakening to the importance of utilizing the first day of rehearsal for naming a standard of equity within the workplace and measures of holding that standard accountable,” said co-founder and president of BAC Britton Smith. “REP encourages producers to provide a space to create a set of values WITH their cast and crew to enable everyone’s full participation in the workplace.”
Rooted in decades of research on culture change and systemic racism, the REP program leverages the powerful combination of storytelling and policy to foster environments that enable the full participation of people of different races, identities, and backgrounds. Throughout the multi-day workshop, cast, creatives, management, and producers come together to engage in a process of deepening relationships, developing an awareness of inequitable systems and their histories, envisioning alternative possibilities, and identifying systems of accountability.
“We believe that the key to sustainability in these practices is trust, and that trust can only be built when those who are most directly impacted by racism are at the center of the REP process despite their positioning in a company,” said Director of Industry Initiatives Zhailon Levingston.
BAC has envisioned a two-part process that will bring these practices and learnings into the theater itself. “As reopening comes into focus, we must now move beyond our vision and into action and execution, into a place of providing the support required to get everyone to meet those standards, said REP creator Leia Squillace. “REP is a process that recognizes that change happens in little moments, in developing trusting relationships, and in acknowledging that making lasting change is as necessary as it is challenging.”
REP was developed by Britton Smith (Be More Chill, Shuffle Along), Zhailon Levingston (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical), Leia Squillace (Community Partnerships for Roundabout Theater Company) and Columbia Law School professor and Director of the Center for Institutional and Social Change Susan Sturm.
The Broadway Advocacy Coalition
Founded in 2016 by members of the Broadway community as a direct response to the nation’s pandemic of racism and police brutality, the Broadway Advocacy Coalition is a multidisciplinary organization which unites artists, legal experts and community leaders to create lasting impact on policy issues from criminal justice reform to education equity to immigration. Via its partnership with the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, BAC has collaborated with institutions across New York City, including the New York City Council, Bronx Defenders, and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.