How Broadway’s New Diversity Director Aims to Change the Industry

Broadway is back — and it’s looking to make some changes to how it used to operate.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

With producers, creators, advocates and executives across the industry working to make the business more equitable, the Broadway League, the trade association of theater producers and presenters, recently tapped Gennean Scott to be the organization’s first director of equity, diversity and inclusion. Speaking on the new episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast, Scott said there’s plenty to celebrate in the coming season — and also plenty of work still to do.

“Looking at what all the League members have done in hiring EDI directors, and the fact that we have seven new shows that have been written by people of color, I like to think that we are moving in the right direction and creating a space for people who look like me,” Scott said. “I would also say that there’s room for improvement across all areas of the industry, and that’s why I’m here.”

Scott joined the League after a seven-year tenure as VP of human capital and inclusion at Omaha Performing Arts, where she developed the best practices for diversifying the performing arts. “You have to go where the people are,” she said. “At Omaha Performing Arts, it meant building a grassroots-based community, and being embedded in the community and developing actual relationships. It’s not about Omaha Performing Arts, or even the Broadway League for that matter, telling a community what they need and what we can give them; it’s about listening to that community and having them tell us. It’s flipping it and putting it on its side and having the community inform us.”

Scott detailed some of the programs already in place at the League — including a young-audiences initiative called Broadway Bridges and a League fellowship program that fosters diverse talent behind the scenes — and laid out how she intends to work with them and with the rest of the industry. “Now that the League has created this position that I’m in, we are able to be more intentionally focused on how we deliver our programs, who we work with, and how we work with and moreover communicate with the community at large,” she said. “I think that that may have been one of the struggles we had in the past: Communicating those initiatives that we’ve had to the people they were created to benefit.”

With everything going on across the industry, Scott said it’s vital that theater workers and audiences alike understand that the commitment to change is real. “It’s important for people to know that the industry isn’t just talk,” she said.

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.

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