I have been deeply moved by the profound and steady flow of voices of protest and demands for racial justice that have emerged from the international arts community in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Artists and arts administrators of color have been speaking out in every facet of the arts industry—theater, museums, dance, music and the visual arts—and in countries all around the world, about the need to be treated with respect and to have equal access to opportunities. This united call for justice across many disciplines is shaking up the arts world.
Their efforts have ranged from private letters calling on internal leadership to take action, to scores of news media reports. As a matter of fact, some of the major daily newspapers now have special sections about the movement for racial justice, such as the Washington Post’s “Race and Reckoning.” The Post recently featured interviews with nine African American artists reflecting on the question, “Is America at A Point of Reckoning?”
This week, I am sharing with the readers of Arts & Culture Connections a brief summation of the “flashpoints of reckoning” that I’ve recently run across, along with the links where you can find more information.
Will Broadway Look Different when it Reopens in 2021?
In interviews with Black artists and producers, the New York Times reported that there are more than a dozen plays and musicals that have been written by Black writers; have had promising productions elsewhere, and have support from commercial producers or nonprofit presenters. But will there be room for them on Broadway?
Staff Complaints and Controversy at the Detroit Institute of Arts
Current and former employees at the Detroit Institute of the Arts have filed a complaint via several news outlets, including artnet.com, against museum director Salvador Salort-Pons. Among their allegations: Mr. Salort-Pons has conducted inequitable hiring practices and lacks sufficient knowledge of race and diversity issues, in a city where the population is more than 80-percent African-American.
Misty Copeland: Racial Justice Protests make her feel “like I’m truly being heard.”
In an interview with Yahoo! Finance, Misty Copeland, the first African American woman to be selected as Principal Dancer for the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, discussed how the ongoing racial justice protests are unlike anything she’s ever witnessed in her career. She also believes that work has just begun in terms of taking steps to combat racism in the dance world.
Black Opera Singers Discuss Race and Inequality
Organized by mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges and sponsored by the Los Angeles Opera, six African American opera singers shared their experiences and calls for action to address the injustices they’ve experienced and to discuss what’s needed to create more opportunities for artists of color
Black Classical Music Conductors Speak-Out
California music institutions sponsored discussions featuring four African-American, classical music conductors, who shared experiences of what they have faced—and continue to face—in the predominately white world of classical music.
Artists Share what they felt at the George Floyd protests around the country
A Global Collection
The Peacebuilding and the Arts program at Brandeis University curated a global collection of artists performances, visual art and news reports based on the theme, “Arts, Artists and Demands for Racial Justice.” The posted links, which I have republished below, had the following warning: “Please note that some include depictions and descriptions of violations of dignities, bodies, communities and lives.”
Artists have historically been at the forefront of social change and deep cultural shifts, and they once again are demanding a seat at the table and to be heard. But I cannot recall in my lifetime ever seeing the vestiges and wounds of social and racial injustice being made so clear on so many fronts at the same time.
There are no easy answers. However, one point is very clear: There needs to action, and it needs to begin now. I would like to know what you think. Please share your comments below.
Be safe. Be well. Stay strong.