JL: What is the most significant opportunity—or challenge—facing the theatre field, and how can we address it together?
MNM: I think the most important word in that question is “we”. We, as theatre lovers and practitioners, need to take a moment to stop looking out at our audience and start looking around at ourselves. We have a diversity issue. Period. We are not creating an environment that allows younger artists, artists of color and artists from working class families to create sustainable lives in theatre. So they leave the field and we lose their voices and their genius in a time when we need them most. And then we have the audacity to look out at our audiences and wonder why they look so homogenous. This is not new but it doesnt hurt any less.
But we can do address this! Our goal should not be more diversity initiatives but that we get to a point where diversity is ingrained into the missions of every single organization AND we have supported so many diverse theatre artists and companies that they are sustainable on their own. But that takes real work. It takes personal responsibility. It takes looking around room and asking who’s not here, why aren’t they here and how can I change that? It takes asking hard questions and being receptive to real answers. And it may even mean asking some of our long term donors and funders to give to someone else. Gasp!