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December 09, 2009


Scott Walters

I was right with you, Adam, up until the end when you wrote: "Our job is not to move people from one category to another. That's a choice only they can make." If we had that attitude in politics, we still have separate water fountains in the south.

People and organizations respond to peer pressure. Mark Twain once wrote something to the effect "Show me where a man gets his corn pone, and I'll tell you what his opinions are." In other words, people want to be valued by their peers, and will shape their opinions to fit in. Sometimes that means money -- being valued by grantmakers, for instance, can lead change; but it also means that peer pressure has an important effect. We all want to fit in, and if we give people a free pass as far as an issue ("Bless his heart, he's trying to be more diverse."), then the motivation to change behavior is lessened.

You're right that we can't FORCE people or organizations to change (well, we could -- we could follow Isaac's idea of class action lawsuits against organizations that remain un-diversified), but we can isolate such organizations and people from those of us who believe that diversification is important. And it would have the desired effect, I suspect.



Good points. You're probably correct on that. Isolation is a necessary step.


Hear, hear. I also think that sometimes when someone says "how do tell a theatre that diversity is important?" what they're saying is "how do we explain to our community/subscribers/company members/stakeholders that things are going to change?" In my experience, there's actually a bit of a life cycle that happens (and sometimes happens over and over again) where organizations go from being sincere in their efforts to being scared to trying to do the right thing to facing resistance and hitting road bumps to finally deciding to focus on other priorities. I think identifying where a theatre is in this cycle and then figuring out what they need to move forward is key.

Tony Adams

I think that the second audiences demand changes you will see them.

Sometimes artists need to be shown the way and sometimes artists and audiences sometimes need to be shown the possibility.

I think the ultimate key to a diverse field is more people seeing the possibilities and explosive creativity that true diversity brings with it. An argument I hear a lot is that it should be about the art , not who makes it. That diversity is just a liberal guilt thing to please funders. (don't agree but a lot of people say that)

A cursory reading of the history of any art form would show that anytime there was a significant advance in that artform, it almost always happened when different styles and cultures intersect and inform each other.

Of course sometimes it feels like there's a fifth group to be added to that list: the "Already Diverse but Currently Lacking Resources" Group.

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