With Eye Toward Diversity, NYC Gives Grants to Nonprofit Theaters

New York City is allocating $2 million in grants to nonprofit theaters throughout the city, with the goal of allowing theaters to target diverse staffs and audiences.

With the help of a new series of grants, New York City’s theater scene could soon become a lot more diverse.

Last week, the city announced it would allocate $2 million in grants aimed at boosting diversity in its nonprofit theaters. The funding, reports The New York Times, would benefit facilities such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the New York Theatre Workshop. Additionally, the Theatre Development Fund, a group that helps promote shows, will receive a grant. The largest grants, reports Deadline, will total $250,000 per group.

In a statement, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized that the city sees the issue as one of building culture and creating new jobs.

“New York is a theater town,” de Blasio stated, according to Deadline. “With the help of the Theater Subdistrict Council, New York can take the lead in expanding access to good-paying career opportunities in theater for historically underrepresented communities, paving the way for theater to remain a vibrant sector that speaks to all New Yorkers.”

Nonprofit Quarterly, which has put a tight focus on the issue of diversity in theater in recent months, noted that New York City’s theater scene traditionally hasn’t reflected the diversity of the city—despite just 33 percent of the city’s residents being white, 70 percent of the local theater industry’s administrative, production, and sales jobs were done by white people.

The issue of diversity in theater has become more prominent in part because of some of the success stories. One of the current members of the city’s Theater Subdistrict Council is Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose record-breaking success with his musical Hamilton defined 2016 for Broadway as a whole.

“I am so proud to be part of an organization that benefits our theaters and allows them to cultivate rising talent and bring fresh perspectives on and off the stage,” Miranda said in a statement to the Times.

Since 1998, the council has raised $9 million from fees generated by theaters selling air rights above their properties to developers, Deadline notes.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music, a beneficiary of the grants. (Terence McCormack/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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