AAPAC's Diversity Report for 2011-12 Season Says Broadway Hires Better Percentage of Minority Actors Than Non-Profit Sector

By: Feb. 12, 2013
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The Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC) released its annual report, "Ethnic Representation on New York City Stages," detailing the ethnic distribution of actors hired this past theater season on Broadway and at the top sixteen not-for-profit theater companies in New York City. It is the only publicly available report of its kind.

In the 2011-2012 season, African American actors were cast in 16% of all roles, Hispanic American/Latino actors in 3%, and Asian American actors in 3% (others, including Arab American/Middle Eastern and Native American actors, comprised 1%). Caucasian actors filled 77% of all roles and continued to be the only ethnicity to over-represent compared to their respective population size in New York City and the Tri-State area.

For the second year in a row, the not-for-profit sector lagged far behind the commercial (Broadway) sector when it came to hiring minorities. Minority actors filled 25% of all roles on Broadway for the past two years, the highest percentage in the six years studied in the report. African American representation hit a six year high this past season at 19%. Though far behind, Asian Americans increased a percentage point over the previous year to 3% which was also a six year high for Broadway.

In contrast, the non-profits, which once consistently hired more actors of color than the commercial sector (setting a high water mark of 27% during the 08/09 season), has fallen below the industry average of 20% for the second year in a row, 16% two years ago amd landing at 19% this past season. Asian American actors have been at their lowest point, 2 %, for three years in a row within the non-profit sector. This is a substantial drop from where they were six and five years ago (4% and 7% respectively).

The following are this year's rankings for the most and least diverse amongst the sixteen companies based on percentages of actors of color employed:

1. Signature Theatre (46.4%)
2. Atlantic Theatre Company (29.5%)
3. Vineyard Theatre (28.6%)
4. Playwrights Horizons (27.8%)

1. York Theatre Company (0%)
2. Classic Stage Company (2.9%)
3. Primary Stages (5.6%)
5. MCC THEATRE (7.7%)

The report also tracks the number of minority actors cast in roles that are not racially-specific (Non-Traditional Casting) as an indicator of the openness of the industry. Only 10% of all roles received by actors of color were not defined by the color of their skin. The theatre companies with the highest percentage of roles cast non-traditionally this past season are:

4. Second Stage COMPANY (12.5%)
5. Vineyard Theatre (7.1%)

The full report is available for download on the AAPAC website: www.aapacnyc.org.

ABOUT AAPAC: The Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC) was formed in 2011 by a group of American actors of Asian descent to expand the perception of Asian American performers in order to increase their access to and visibility on New York City's stages. In addition to publishing the only publicly available statistics on ethnic diversity in mainstream New York theatre, AAPAC engages in consciousness raising around issues of difference and access to equal casting opportunities by hosting symposia and roundtables as well as through outreach and dialogue to specific theatre companies. AAPAC has led and advised on several international campaigns this past year surrounding Asian impersonation and exclusionary casting practices, most recently against the Roundabout Theatre Company and its Broadway production of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." AAPAC is actively working with its allies within the industry to create change, including being a participant in the Broadway Diversity Summit, a dialogue organized by the Broadway League bringing together the unions and organizations working within the Broadway space.