Every year, a very important component of HARLEM WEEK is the panels, conferences and summits. Despite this year’s virtual platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we still were able to offer this important programming—an opportunity to hear from and engage with experts, public officials, thought leaders and community representatives to discuss the pressing issues impacting not only Harlem and the New York area, but also African-American communities throughout the United States.
The Broadway Careers panel was organized in direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the BIPOC statement, “We See You, White American Theatre,” and the recognition that BIOPC’s have historically been marginalized in the theater industry. Noted Broadway publicist and Tony Award-winning producer Irene Gandy and I moderated the panels with colleagues who are consciously and actively committed to uprooting racism and injustice in the theater industry.
Charles Flateman, Executive Vice President of Business Development at the Shubert Organization, who has been a friend and partner of HARLEM WEEK for many years, gave introductory remarks. In addition to Irene and me, the panel participants were:
Julio Peterson, Vice President of Real Estate, Shubert Organization
David Calhoun, former President, Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers
Kim Shaw, Company Manager
Aaylitha Stevens, Chief Operating Officer, SpotCo
Jim Glaub, President, Super Awesome Friends
Damian Bazadona, President, Situation Interactive Marketing
Jim Joseph, House Manager
Stephanie Mills, Broadway actress and singer
The panelists shared their career history, as well as their behind-the-scenes experiences. They also made recommendations about how Broadway can address and uproot the manifestations of racism and racial injustice. It was refreshing and encouraging to hear from these trailblazers, who have had many challenging experiences, yet remain optimistic about the future.
I believe we all have the responsibility to think about and engage in actions that will lead to the elimination of the culture of discrimination and implicit bias that impedes the advancement of BIOPC in the theater industry. This conversation was a great beginning. I urge you to watch and share this panel discussion.