The Role of Philanthropy in Advancing Equity in the Arts

The Role of Philanthropy in Advancing Equity in the Arts

Those of us in philanthropy aren’t typically in the business of making predictions. But we’ve been around the theater world long enough to expect that the Broadway musical Soul Train will be a hit when it debuts in 2021. The musical tells the story of the eponymous, landmark music and dance television program that helped shape black culture in America for decades.

What really sets Soul Train apart from other hit musicals, however, is the team of women staging it, all of whom had the opportunity to develop their talents through diverse local arts and cultural organizations. Writer Dominique Morrisseau, a MacArthur genius, produced some of her early work at the Classical Theatre of Harlem and the National Black Theatre. Choreographer Camille A. Brown, a Tony-award nominee, runs her own dance company in Queens and has been touring the nonprofit circuit for years. And director Kamilah Forbes ran Hi-Arts in East Harlem before becoming executive producer at the iconic Apollo Theater.

Organizations like these can serve as powerful incubators of diverse talent, but the kind of success stories Morrisseau, Brown, and Forbes represent are rarer than they should be.

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Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review