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“We See You White American Theater” Publishes Demands

jonah3500
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I’m surprised nobody has started a thread on this yet. 

We See You WAT, which has gotten close to 150,000 signatures on their petition about racism in the theater community, has published a 31 page list of demands for American Theater. A few demands that stick out to me: 

  • Rename 50% of theaters after BIPOC artists
  • Do away with main stage and second stage content at nonprofit theaters
  • Have 50% BIPOC staff in every element of theater
  • Reserve early ticket sales exclusively for BIPOC audiences
  • Abolish 10 out of 12s and 6 day rehearsal weeks, as they are “seeped in capitalist and white supremacist culture.”
  • Whether or not there is any nudity, every show must have an intimacy director.

There are many other demands in the document, but those are just a few that stuck out to me. I suggest reading the full document to get the full picture.

Any thoughts on this?

Updated On: 7/8/20 at 10:21 PM
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Sutton Ross
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I think it's a great message, I love that they laid everything out. However, some people who are in charge of making these kinds of decisions might take issue with the word "demand" and some of these things are simply unrealistic. Just my thoughts. 

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 10:41 PM
SeanD2
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And this is how progress stalls. These demands are so far out of line that any meaningful discussion will break down. A lot of the original signatories of the petition will soon be disavowing they organization.
LightsOut90
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delusional
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uncageg
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I don't even know where to start.  Actually, I do but this is too much and some of it is unrealistic.

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BenjaminNicholas2
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Dumb as $hit

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Broadway Joe
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"Reserve early ticket sales exclusively for BIPOC audiences"

So they want so solve racism with......racism? I didn't realize that the telecharge or ticketmaster websites knew the color of my skin when tickets went on sale. This is one of the dumbest things I've read all year and that's saying a lot with everything that's gone on all year.

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 12:47 AM
bawoman
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jonah3500 said: "I’m surprised nobody has started a thread on this yet.

We See You WAT, which has gotten close to 150,000 signatures on their petition about racism in the theater community, has published a 31page list of demands for American Theater. A few demands that stick out to me:

  • Rename 50% of theaters after BIPOC artists
  • Do away with main stage and second stage content at nonprofit theaters
  • Have 50% BIPOC staff in every element of theater
  • Reserve early ticket sales exclusively for BIPOC audiences
  • Abolish 10 out of 12s and 6 day rehearsal weeks, as they are “seeped in capitalist and white supremacist culture.”
  • Whether or not there is any nudity, every show must have an intimacy director.

There are many other demands in the document, but those are just a few that stuck out to me. I suggest reading the full document to get the full picture.

Any thoughts on this?
"

I would have thoughts if reading that hadn't killed my renaiming brain cells

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JBroadway
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Thank goodness the statement isn't directed at the people on this board. We can only pray that the people in charge of these organizations are more open-minded. 

Some of these changes will definitely take some time and effort, and will involve long-term investment and gradual changes in order to achieve in a practical way. Particularly when it comes to the hiring percentages. But I'd say 75-80% of these demands are pretty achievable in the short term, as long as the people with power actually take responsibility and put in the effort to implement the changes. 

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JBroadway said: "Thank goodness the statement isn't directed at the people on this board. We can only pray that the people in charge of these organizations are more open-minded.

Some of these changes will definitely take some time and effort, and will involve long-terminvestment and gradual changesin order to achieve in a practical way. Particularly when it comes to the hiring percentages. But I'd say 75-80% of these demands are pretty achievable in the short term, as long as the people with power actually take responsibility and put in the effort to implement the changes.
"

Did you actually read the entire 31 pages?Nothing says being open-minded like saying BIPOC should get first dibs on tickets over white people. That's literally replacing racism with racism instead of equality. 

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Here's some that stuck out to me...

"Broaden Tony eligibility to include shows produced under a union contract at any theatre in NYC larger than 500 seats, including qualifying shows at The Apollo Theatre in Harlem"

"Abolish the current system of secret handshakes that give theatre rentals to the same producers over and over again."

"We demand that all theatres/productions cease all contractual security agreements with police departments across the United States. Theatres/productions must invest in security agencies that are not affiliated with or founded by police/ex-police officers"
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ErmengardeStopSniveling
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The nice thing about a long list is that it gives many ways in which we can affect change. Aim high...it's a marathon, not a sprint, and each company will achieve this at a different pace. Many of these 50% demands will never be achieved. But even if we go from 5% to 10-15% in the next 20 years, that's progress.

Many of these things are common sense and long overdue (term! limits! for! non! profit! leadership!) and hopefully this opens some eyes. Others could bankrupt even seemingly-successful nonprofit theaters and expedite the death of "flop" shows.

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 01:16 AM
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JBroadway
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I did read all 31 pages, though I skimmed over some of the bits that seemed to be repeating essentially the same demands for different institutions. Some of them seemed a bit far-fetched to me upon my first read, but I think that's partly because I'm so used to the unbalanced status quo that true efforts to correct the imbalance sound impractical to me. So I sit with it and process it, and try to be open to what marginalized people are telling me. 

I won't fully address your comment about racism tonight, because it's a long, complex issue and I have to go to bed, but I would encourage you to Google articles about why "reverse racism" isn't real. Suffice it to say that while the "racism" technically means any discrimination based on race, the word as more commonly used in today's social justice movements refers more to systemic power imbalances that effect day-to-day life for both individuals and communities. 

I have found this graphic to be helpful in demonstrating what the intention behind this sort of measure is necessary (see image below). We are striving for equity (the image on the right) not equality (the image on the left). Providing everyone with equal treatment is equality, and that's good in theory. But when some people are at a constant disadvantage, they require additional, active support - like the shorter person getting an extra box to stand on because the fence is too tall. Many of these demands are examples of "extra boxes" like in the image below. 

“We See You White American Theater” Publishes Demands

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JBroadway said: "I did read all 31 pages, though I skimmed over some of the bits that seemed to be repeating essentially the same demands for different institutions. Some of them seemed a bit far-fetched to me upon my first read, but I think that's partly because I'm so used to the unbalanced status quo that true efforts to correct the imbalance sound impractical to me. So I sit with it and process it, andtry to be open to what marginalized people are telling me.

I won't fully address your comment about racism tonight, because it's a long, complex issue and I have to go to bed, but I would encourage you to Google articles about why "reverse racism" isn't real. Suffice it to say that while the "racism" technically means any discrimination based on race, the word as more commonly used in today's social justice movements refers more to systemic power imbalances that effect day-to-day life for both individuals and communities.

I have found this graphic to be helpful in demonstrating what the intention behind this sort of measure is necessary (see image below). We are striving for equity (the image on the right) not equality (the image on the left). Providing everyone with equal treatment is equality, and that's good in theory. But when some people are at a constant disadvantage, they require additional, active support - like the shorter persongetting an extra box to stand on because the fence is too tall. Many of these demands are examples of "extra boxes" like in the image below.

“We See You White American Theater” Publishes Demands
"

My comment is strickly talking about these two... 

"  Reserve early ticket sales exclusively for BIPOC audiences.

Abolish the practice of limiting BIPOC ticket buyers to the periphery of audiences and instead promote policies that give them access to the best seat selections before tickets go on sale to the general public."

Buying tickets in advance is as simple as logging on the day the tickets go on sale or calling a number of and purchasing them. The computer doesn't know nor care what color you are and doesn't show you "bad" seats based on your color that I know of. Ticketmaster has an automated phone system to purchase tickets that doesn't care either. 

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 01:36 AM
bawoman
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Reverse racism doesn't exist, because it is just that, racism. According to the official definitions anyway. I am not saying context doesn't mater and power constructions don't exist, but racism is racism.

 

Also, if you have the power to make me feel bad for something I have no responsibility in or I can't help, you have the power to be racist.

Ravenclaw
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The "term limit" idea is ridiculous. These people who have had the fortune to find long-term employment in the theatre should just step aside and search for work again? Including the MANY artistic directors who founded the institutions they run? 

If these people think they know all the solutions that will fix the American theatre, they should start their own companies. And I don't mean that sarcastically. Most of the regional theaters in this country were founded by young artists with huge ambitions, no money, and an idea of what the theatre should be like. Then, when you're running a theatre company, you can see which of these demands are actionable, achievable, and fair. If all these demands can be implemented, then you'll set a model for the rest of the industry.

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Seems like the authors don't understand a lot of how the business works. Divest from IATSE? One party can't unilaterally agree to back out of a collective bargaining agreement. Give one opening night ticket to white critics and a pair to black critics? Lots of issues there but mainly that critics aren't invited to opening nights. Require theater owners to attract more diverse audiences? Productions market their shows, not the theater owners. Ensure 50% of Tony nominating committee is BIPOC within 3 years? That shouldn't be a problem because it's already 44%.

sparksatmidnight
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Should I be laughing? I don't think it was the end goal but I did anyway. So far out of reality

blm2323
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JBroadway - 

I understand your graphic but, unfortunately, the majority of the demands are ridiculous, and eye-roll-inducing. Many of those demands are not looking for equity - they come across as wanting to be the tall person AND standing on two boxes (which I hope all of us can see would be wrong for any group to do).

I would call on someone like LMM (only because he signed the letter - not because he should be “expected” to lead a movement) to use his hard-earned wealth and talent to create a company that cultivates and nurtures BIPOC artists without having to rely on anyone else (read White).  

 

 

 

LarryD2
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I'm truly disturbed by the list of demands regarding the press, which is an independent entity that is in no way governed by the institutions it covers. It seems they hate journalists as much as the Trump administration. And it undercuts their message to make "demands" they are in no position to make on an industry they do not financially contribute to.

Dolly80
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There is something so unpleasant and threatening about this statement they have put out.  This isn’t the way to deal with it.

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 07:05 AM
Owen22
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Granted, some of these requests seem a little out there. But it also seems, by the intense, nasty reactions that some people think those making the request are acting a little uppity.

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 07:34 AM
LarryD2
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Owen22 said: "Granted, some of these requests seem a little out there. But it also seems, by the intense, nasty reactions that some people think those making the request are acting a little uppity."

I'm a biracial (Black and Korean) person of color who has worked professionally in theater for 30+ years. A reckoning with the systems of racist inequity within the industry is a long time coming. There are, and will continue to be, people who engage with #WeSeeYouWAT (and specifically, these demands) in bad faith. At the same time, I'm concerned that many people are going to start thinking they can't engage in a dialogue in any way without appearing like racist gatekeepers, and that they need to essentially treat everything coming from this collective as gospel. That's not the way forward.

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 07:47 AM
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What may be better is if they had something similar to HRC's Corporate equality index rating (where they rate each company based on their LGBT policies at work.) Perhaps rate each theater or production on their BIPOC policies? Whatever they choose to do, this will be a long process that will take several years to achieve.

As far as giving early access to ticket sales, call me jaded but I always thought bots have the earliest access to ticket sales and majority of these bots are owned by professional scalpers, unfortunately. As for the best seats, I still think some producers list them on stubhub for insane prices for several months and then remove them a week or two before and sell them as premium seats at the box office.

 

 

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@Wick3 - actually a rating system like the one you described IS already included in the list of demands. See page the very top of page 12.

@bawoman - to be clear, when I said “reverse racism,” what I meant was “racism against white people.” By the standard definition of the word “racism,” yes, racism against white people exists. But today, when people talk about racism, they are using the word in the sense of the more complex definition I described above. This is because the complex definition is more useful to describe the most prevalent and dangerous form of racism plaguing us today. The kind of racism that’s in the most need of addressing. By the standard definition, “racism against white people” exists, but because white people have the power, any “racism” against us is really not a prevalent problem, and can be chocked up to rare, isolated incidents. And in any case, in most of the incidents in which white people feel they are the victims of racism, it’s actually just POC calling them out for doing harm, or POC asking for active means of recompense for that harm (i.e getting more boxes to stand on at the baseball game).

@blm2323 - I hear what you’re saying, but to continue the metaphor:

Maybe the reason we think that is because we as the “tall people” (white people) don’t actually understand just how tall the fence is, or just how many boxes it will require to allow them to see.

@Broadway Joe and others - I confess I don’t totally understand the logistics of how the ticket reservation would work, or why exactly it’s necessary. But as I said above, that’s probably because there’s something about the ticket-buying process that doesn’t take into account the ripple effects of systemic racism, and we as white people can’t see that because, on the surface, the ticket-buying process seems perfectly equal. But I’ll also say that the spirit of it might simply be another means of outreach and actively making space for POC. How is this different from Hamilton reserving tickets for student groups at very low prices? When you create greater access, in combination with outreach, it fosters equity, inclusion and diversity.