Black Theatre Coalition Partners With Theatre Management & Producing Program For Weekly Webinar Series For Black Management Professionals In Theatre

BY Robbie Armstrong, December 2, 2020

Co-founders Adjunct Assistant Professor T. Oliver Reid, Warren Adams, and Reginald “Reggie” Van Lee, along with Executive Strategist Afton Battle and Marketing Strategist Tamica Clanton, announced a partnership between Black Theatre Coalition (BTC), the organization aiming “to build a sustainable, ethical roadmap to increase employment opportunities for Black theatre professionals,” and Professors Steven Chaikelson (Head of Theatre Management & Producing) and Michael J. Passaro (Head of Stage Management) at Columbia University’s School of the Arts to provide a weekly webinar series exclusively for potential BTC fellows. The Columbia University School of the Arts MFA Programs in Theatre Management & Producing and Stage Management are proud to be working with the Black Theatre Coalition to establish an Introduction to the Business of Theatre workshop series exclusively for potential BTC fellows. 


The weekly workshop sessions, which are being led by Professors Chaikelson and Passaro include lectures on management, production, legal, marketing and financial aspects of the theatre industry; group discussions regarding major industry issues; and panel discussions with industry professionals who will share information about their jobs and how they built their careers. Guest lecturers include members of the theatre program’s adjunct faculty and alumni, including Professors Lisa Poyer, Donna Walker-Kuhne and Rachel Sussman, and Theatre Management & Producing alumni Christina Selby '14 and Anthony MacDonald '13. The workshops were partially supported by the Provost’s Addressing Racism Faculty Seed Grant Initiative.


There are ten Black professionals who are taking part in the eleven-week management series.


In a joint statement, Mr. Reid, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Van Lee said, “Once we identified just how vast the disparity is between the perceived inclusivity on stage and the utter dearth of Black professionals off stage, we began outlining ways in which we could address and ultimately eradicate this invisible disparity. This outline provided a clear path forward for our organization and our entire industry. It’s high time to end this ‘illusion of inclusion’ by reshaping the theatrical ecosystem for those who have been marginalized by systematically racist and biased power structures that have endured since the dawn of the American theater.” 


Over the 154 years since the very first Broadway musical (The Black Crook) premiered in 1866, the “Great White Way” has seen 3,002 musicals and 8,326 plays. Across all of these productions, there have been only Ten Black directors of a musical (0.3%), Eleven Black directors of a Play (0.13%) and Seventeen Black choreographers of a Musical (0.56%). All of this directly correlates to the fact that there have only ever been Two Black lead producers of a musical (representing 0.06% of all Broadway musicals). Furthermore, the numbers for Writers, Composers, Scenic, Lighting, Costume, Sound, Video, Music Contractors, Musical Directors, Arrangers, Orchestrators, Hair/Wigs/Makeup, Casting, General Management, Stage Management, Company Management, PR and Marketing/Advertising range from 0 to 5 in each category. 


T Oliver Reid, Warren Adams and Reggie Van Lee, co-founders of Black Theatre Coalition and Steven Chaikelson, Columbia University School of the Arts, are enthusiastic about seeing this initiative come to fruition and look forward to expanding the partnership between BTC and Columbia University School of the Arts in the future. BTC encourages Black Theatre Professionals to add their information for the upcoming database by visiting their website


For partnership inquiries email - [email protected] 

For submissions - [email protected]

For more information about the Black Theatre Coalition, visit their website