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“We See You White American Theater” Publishes Demands- Page 2

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BJR
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LarryD2 said: "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."

I think this is right. And I agree this document is a helpful roadmap to begin change, get as far as you can get. And even if you don't take the prescribed position in each instance, use it as a giant red arrow at a challenge that must be solved, a barrier to creating a truly anti-racist theatre.

 

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Broadway Joe
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JBroadway said: "

@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. "

It's different because those low student prices are giving access to students who are making less/no money and it's a marketing tool to catch them into liking theatre at a younger age.

Simply just giving first access to the best seats for BIPOC people over white people when seats costs the same and everyone has access to same ticket buying systems is simply ridiculous. Unless you're a ticket bot like mentioned previously(something that affects everyone) nobody has an advantage when tickets first go on sale and honestly unless it's a hot ticket show, which are rare nowadays anyway, it's never needed in the first place.

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JBroadway
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Broadway Joe said: "It's different because those low student prices are giving access to students who are making less/no money and it's a marketing tool to catch them into liking theatre at a younger age."

 

But that's the exact intention behind this too, minus the age part. Centuries of institutional racism have forced most Black communities into poverty, so many Black people cannot afford to go to the theatre. Some Black people can afford full priced tickets, obviously, but so can some students (or, their parents, rather). But the tickets set aside for them are meant for people who can't afford it. And many Black communities don't have the same exposure to the arts, so similar to the students comparison, this is an attempt to get more Black people to the theatre by showing them that they are welcome. It's not that they are being shut out of the ticketing system, it's that there's such a disconnect between these theatres and the Black communities that it wouldn't even occur to them to check the theatre's website to see what's playing and to get tickets, and this is an incentive to do that. 



"Honestly unless it's a hot ticket show, which are rare nowadays anyway, it's never needed in the first place."

 

That's a fair point. But if that's the case, what's the harm in implementing the policy? It will either provide an incentive for more Black people to come to the theatre and feel welcome, or it will go unnoticed because ticket demand is low anyway, in which case, so what? The worst case scenario is that they will have spent minimal time and resources on implementing a policy with a noble intention, and neutral results. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, and no one is worse off for having tried. 

KKeller6
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My guess is it sounds absurd purposefully, and the answer is, "You think these demands are absurd? Congratulations. This is what black and other minorities have to live with every day. How does it sound when the colors are reversed? If it sounds absurd to you. Then you understand why the status quo sounds absurd to us".  Just a guess as I'man old white male. 

   Nothing better than IATSE for the disenfranchised. You want to give people a real seat at the table? Jobs that pay well with benefits are a huge step. Local !, which I'm a member of, has made great strides in this area, since I started in 1982.  (Although we did have a black business agent around that time. I forget the exact year he was elected) As have the theatre owners. I can't list all the minorities (women included) who hold heads jobs, or important positions within our union structure. But, it's a lot, and it keep growing.

 

jonah3500
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KKeller6 said: "My guess is it sounds absurd purposefully, and the answer is, "You think these demands are absurd? Congratulations. This is what black and other minorities have to live with every day. How does it sound when the colors are reversed?
"

Has there ever been an instance of theaters giving presale access to white people?

teatime2
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Some of y'all are just racist. 

LarryD2
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“These aren’t optional or negotiable.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCZhUJIJJY-/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Ok, so that tells me what I need to know about the prevailing mindset here. And also why I doubt it will be taken seriously.
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Tag
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Had to check it wasn't April 1st!

SeanD2
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LarryD2 said: "“These aren’t optional or negotiable.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCZhUJIJJY-/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Ok, so that tells me what I need to know about the prevailing mindset here. And also why I doubt it will be taken seriously.
"

Exactly. There's a lot of good in the document, but the bad will cause the whole thing to get ignored especially if it's treated as non-negotiable. And lets be clear, the only way their demands could be met is if theaters fired current employees just because they're white in order to have them replaced with diverse employees which would be illegal (I guess alternatively they could just increase staff size by 100% but that's not practical).

LarryD2
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When I see someone making a statement like that, I have to wonder what the endgame is. Because it’s not to be taken seriously. So, if your 32 pages of “non-negotiable” demands aren’t met, you’ll do what? Stop working? That’ll own White American Theater.
DigificWriter
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Whoever came up with this stuff is delusional, and if somebody like Lin-Manuel Miranda has indeed been a party to this "movement", he's sadly been hoodwinked pretty severely.
Ravenclaw
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LarryD2 said: "When I see someone making a statement like that, I have to wonder what the endgame is. Because it’s not to be taken seriously. So, if your 32 pages of “non-negotiable” demands aren’t met, you’ll do what? Stop working? That’ll own White American Theater."

More likely they'll publicly shame and "cancel" theaters that they determine are not making good-faith efforts to adhere to these rules.

I hope that the people who wrote these demands sit down with the people in charge of major institutions and they all have a long discussion about what can be done, what are good long-term goals, and what are the actionable steps to achieve them. Now, I know someone is going to say "it's not the job of BIPOC to educate you" but if these activists are so sure they know how to run the nation's theatres, they should start some companies of their own and see how hard it is to hire a staff of 50% BIPOC show after show after show. Yes, of course BIPOC people are disadvantaged in the theatre, just like everywhere else in this country, but demanding lofty goals be achieved immediately is not going to fix any problems.

Also, the letter from a month ago was signed by a list of many BIPOC theatre artists and administrators. This 31-page list of demands has no signatories or credited authors, at least as far as I can tell. Does anyone know who came up with this list of demands?

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jdrye222
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There is a point where progress is no longer progress. This document is literally idiotic at best. While SOME of their points are valid, they are “demanding” quite literally impossible things that weaken their own discussion. They want equity but to be treated separately.
If I were on that original list of names, I’d be eager to distance myself. This is a complete disservice to conversation and I never thought I’d use the term “anti-white” but the shortsightedness and total generalization of people in this document is not only actively anti-white but anti-progress and anti-diversity. It is written from anger which is justified, but it is proposed with NO respect for differences, and NO concept of community, and blatantly disrespects the art form itself.
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Some of the demands would be illegal in practice (ironically, it seems like several would violate anti-discrimination laws).

Some of the demands are unenforceable.

Some of the demands are financially unfeasible for the institutions they are addressed toward.

A lot of things are universal issues for workers in theater but framed here as exclusively issues of BIPOC artists.

There is no indication they worked with lawyers, labor organizers, or other experts to draft or edit this.

And there is no plan of what comes next.

Frankly, this is kind of what I was afraid would happen if a lot of theater artists got together to make demands, regardless of their race or backgrounds.

 

"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
Updated On: 7/9/20 at 02:48 PM
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jdrye222
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Yes, Kad. It actively dismisses the fact that, for example, 10 out of 12s are a thing for everyone. I’ve never worked on something where ONLY “bipocs” stayed late.
It also actively rejects any similarity in struggle to the LGBTQ community, which is directly insulting to probably 30% of the industry.
I also take issue with some of these names on the list, who neither appear as nor embrace “bipoc” identities until now.
This should be a red flag in every way that this particular group cannot be taken seriously. I guarantee names will be quietly removed from the list of those “signed” to it.
It is just completely jaw-droppingly myopic and, frankly, the opposite of equity or equality or diversity.
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This one is a real head-scratcher:

Production job descriptions must use language that is free of unconscious bias, such as “years of experience” requirements for production staff. !

Production job descriptions must not have education requirements, which, by implying that coming from a certain degree or institution you are somehow more qualified than someone else, create a barrier to the hiring of BIPOC production staff.

 

Huh?

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It’s not intended to be accepted and achieved any more than “I Want a Dyke for President” was an actual mission statement with five year plan.

It’s agitprop. It’s meant to make you instinctively say “yes!” And then “wait, no!” And make you actively think about the issues at hand by proposing radical, almost scorched-earth action that could not conceivably be taken in real life.
BWAY Baby2
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There must be a black president every 12 years- the Tony Awards must nominate POC for at least 40 per cent of the slots, The Oscars must have at least two nominees in each category for a POC- people adopting  more than one baby must have one baby of color in the mix- 40 per cent of all seats in Congress must go to a POC - or the election of a white person will be deemed unconstitutional--yeah- that will fix all the problems

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 03:28 PM
DigificWriter
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darquegk said: "It’s not intended to be accepted and achieved any more than “I Want a Dyke for President” was an actual mission statement with five year plan.

It’s agitprop. It’s meant to make you instinctively say “yes!” And then “wait, no!” And make you actively think about the issues at hand by proposing radical, almost scorched-earth action that could not conceivably be taken in real life.
"

You're trying to give these idiots the benefit of the doubt and rationalize the irrational.

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darquegk said: "It’s not intended to be accepted and achieved any more than “I Want a Dyke for President” was an actual mission statement with five year plan.

It’s agitprop. It’s meant to make you instinctively say “yes!” And then “wait, no!” And make you actively think about the issues at hand by proposing radical, almost scorched-earth action that could not conceivably be taken in real life.
"

Except "I Want a Dyke for President" is a poem that's about a paragraph long.

This is a 31 page document that describes itself as "an omnibus declaration of interlinked strategies, comprehensive but by no means exhaustive, and remains subject to amendment. It is culled from years of discussion between members of the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) theatre communities immersed in the dynamics of which they speak, and bears the contradictions of our many concerns, approaches, and needs."

"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
VintageSnarker
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ErmengardeStopSniveling said: "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.
"

I am NOT reading 31 pages. But from what I skimmed, it does seem like there is a mix of achievable goals and posturing. While some of it seems exhausting, sometimes you do have to count numbers when the people in power aren't able to see the problem until you lay out numbers and statistics. Anyone who has ever been embroiled in an idiotic internet debate can tell you that. Demands are a starting place for negotiation. Maybe some of the people who have written/signed this document would disagree vehemently with that and do expect that all their demands will be met. But I would hope that some of these demands are about starting a conversation and not things reasonable people expect to just happen tomorrow. 

BWAY Baby2
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I agree with you VintageSnarker . -------But I would hope that some of these demands are about starting a conversation and not things reasonable people expect to just happen tomorrow.------but in this era, reasonable people are hard to find- this is an era of cold civil war- hopefully not erupting into Civil War. Reason and negotiation does not seem to be what is happening now, unfortunately. I know I wrote a snarky post a few posts above- but reasonable conversations- especially on the internet- seem fruitless- but it is a sign of the times that so much posturing and division with seemingly not much room for some compromise- seems to exist.

toottoot
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I found it rather glorious. The tone is intentional, and anyone who thinks folx are not 100% aware how it comes across and that it may make The Great White American Theater go on the defense are sadly mistaken. For years BIPOC workers in the theater industry have tried to make their case, and every. single. time. they are met with "let's meet in the middle" at best or flat out "you're putting me in a corner." And enough is, well, enough. People don't just jump to these extremes where they feel the need to spend their time writing a document of over 30 pages of demands just because they have a chip on their shoulder. I'm also in love with the fact that they aren't naming themselves (maybe yet). The authors are anonymous. Their eyes are on you, but you don't know who they specifically are, so you can't necessarily ride them off as individuals. It's delicious. After spending the last 15 years of my life in arts administration being made to feel the need to squirm, having the tables flipped is glorious. Anyway. I think it's a great starting place, and I look forward to folx being held publicly accountable, and seeing what happens from here. Those are my thoughts! :) 

Updated On: 7/9/20 at 09:44 PM
LarryD2
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Of course the provocative tone is intentional. But the call for equity in theater isn't performance art. Treating it as such only undermines the cause. The We See You folks are inviting people not to take them seriously.

Updated On: 7/10/20 at 05:21 AM
toottoot
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poisonivy2 said: "This one is a real head-scratcher:

Production job descriptions must use language that is free of unconscious bias, such as “years of experience” requirements for production staff. !

Production job descriptions must not have education requirements, which, by implying that coming from a certain degree or institution you are somehow more qualified than someone else, create a barrier to the hiring of BIPOC production staff.

Huh?
"

I've been thinking of reaching out to some folx I know who are heavily involved in getting the word out on the document to ask if they can clarify why these exist specifically for production teams and not demanded for any/all job postings, as the idea of eradicating mention of experience preference or educational preference is nothing new if one is dialed into EDI and anti-racist practice 101. Having an experience expectation within a system that has historically oppressed and not made room for advancements for BIPOC and marginalized communities abroad only feeds into the constant end result of managers and HR directors saying "we hired a white person because no people of color applied" etc etc. Universities and college programs have a longstanding history of racial inequality in their admissions. High school dropout rates also show the most likely racial groups to not graduate are Indigenous/Native American, Hispanic, and Black. Having an education preference listed is a psychological "not welcome" sign for marginalized communities, many who are used to looking for signs that they won't get far in the process just as much as they're looking for cues that give them hope. Even listing "or relevant experience" is not enough as that assumes the somewhere in the system there's some major loophole that has allowed marginalized communities without degrees to somehow find work experience doing the thing others go out and get a degree to do. I don't think anyone is disillusioned to the idea that if a qualified candidate comes through with a buttload of knowledge that they happened to get through higher education that it will up their chances of getting a job. But, there is something to say about providing opportunities for people to make their case. A lot of this is especially relevant now that the uni system in the USA is run more like a corporation pocketing $ from tuition than much more of anything else, and that the millennials and gen z'ers are being groomed at younger and younger ages to do the whatever bare minimum to ensure they get accepted into some/any college, thus creating what's essentially now an oversaturated workforce of overqualified people with degrees and not enough jobs to fully make sense of their pursuits, and thus many folx with 4 year degrees are working survival jobs or going to grad school in hopes it puts them on a more hire-able pedestal. This exists in the theater industry on both sides of the table (administrative and artistic/creative) to a sometimes overwhelming degree. Especially since the theater industry is also partially built on cutthroat determination, desperation, and dream chasing. The industry is constantly hiring the same often-mediocre workforce that feeds into white supremacy and doesn't challenge it. They have yet been willing to shake it up for many reasons, and will be quick to say it's because the "diversity never applied." 

That's a whole lot of thoughts. God help me if it doesn't make any sense. There's more to it, I'm sure, and I'm not exactly at my most eloquently spoken right now (forgive any ramblings, I ought to be asleep now). But for some reason I felt the impulse to respond right away.