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Black Theatre Coalition Announces New Executive Director and Program Director

Michael S. Eddy • Stage DirectionsTheater News • January 4, 2022

Black Theatre Coalition co-founders T. Oliver Reid, Warren Adams, and Reginald “Reggie” Van Lee, announced new leadership within the organization. Black Theatre Coalition (BTC), the organization aiming “to build a sustainable, ethical roadmap to increase employment opportunities for Black theatre professionals” brings on Lico Whitfield as Program Director and Olivia Jones as Executive Director.

Lico Whitfield (Program Director) brings over a decade of experience navigating the world of professional commercial and non-profit theater to his role with Black Theatre Coalition. Whitfield hopes that his role with BTC will support the disruption of homogeneity in our industry and broaden the scope of creators and appreciators of theater.

Olivia Jones (Executive Director) has dedicated her career to amplifying diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the arts and culture sector. She was a recipient of the inaugural APAP|NYC 2020 Duke Access Award after being identified as a field leader representing expertise in racial equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the performing arts field. She has held roles at Roundabout Theatre Company, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and Arena Stage. Jones is also proud to have been a steering committee member of the Museum Arts and Cultural Access Consortium, advancing accessibility throughout New York’s cultural sector. She currently serves on Trusty Sidekick Theatre Company’s Board of Directors, supporting the creation of bold and original productions for young people and their families. Her educational background includes an MFA in Arts Leadership from Virginia Tech and a BA in Theatre from Cal Poly Pomona.

Reid, Adams, and Van Lee are enthusiastic about the growth of the team and organization with the addition of these two extremely talented professionals.

Black Theatre Coalition recently completed its inaugural Apprentice Program with the opening of the critically acclaimed Broadway revival, Company. BTC also has an ongoing Broadway Fellowship Program which has currently funded 20 fellows with more to come in this first year, as well as a regional fellowship program in cooperation with Broadway Across America/JGO.

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 10 Black directors of a musical (0.3%), 11 Black directors of a Play (0.13%) and 17 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.

In a joint statement, Reid, Adams, and 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 imparity. 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.”

BTC encourages Black Theatre Professionals to add their information for the upcoming database by visiting their website.

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Further information from the Black Theatre Coalition: