The Ugly Truth about Arts Institutions Led by Women of Color

As the founder and executive artistic director for the  (BATC) in Dallas, Texas, I experience racism, sexism, and classism almost daily. It’s no secret that racial and gender disparity is a chronic problem for women in leadership at arts institutions in the United States, but for women of color, there is a severe, unconscious level of prejudice.

I’m so grateful for the  on women artistic and managing directors in the  (LORT), commissioned by . It not only gave me the lexicon to talk intelligently about the issues I was experiencing, but, more importantly, it made me feel less like a martyr.

The study found zero women of color as executive directors in LORT, the largest professional theatre association in the United States, and only one woman of color as an artistic director. This is a dismal reality for women like me who are founders of their own theatre company, hoping to transition to jobs at LORT theatres in the future.

The ugly truth, which was revealed in the study, is that "hidden behind a gender- and race-neutral job description is an expectation, grounded in a stereotype, of what a theatre leader needs to look like: white and male."

White men are the long-standing majority of those in top positions, which translates to who funders trust to provide financial resources, who the media decides to give a platform to, and who board members select to lead their organizations.

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