NEW YORK CITY—The New York performing arts Community celebrates “unparalleled” achievements over the last three decades, with a new year-long resolution to “be better” for the arts.
The community’s Board of Directors voted unanimously last month to “empower our artists and staff to create a better work environment and be more respectful of our communities’ contributions.”
The resolution is a nod to recent actions in New York and across the country, including a new national initiative to reduce the number of deaths from gun violence.
“I think that the spirit of the community has grown, and we’re not afraid to take the bold step of taking a leadership role,” said board member Marjorie Lacey, whose mother was a teacher at the University of Michigan.
“We want to have more space for our performers, and our staff, and to have a space where we can share our ideas with the next generation.”
In a video that accompanies the resolution, Lacey explains how she grew up in a diverse family, with both parents of color, and the “possibility of our community being at the center of our futures.”
“We don’t have a lot of space for ourselves, we don’t really have a chance to learn, and that is not something that is really shared,” Lacey said.
“It’s really a responsibility for us to create that space.”
In addition to making changes to policies and training, the board also plans to invest $10 million in the arts in the coming years, and invest in programs to support young people of color.
“This is not about the number on the ticket,” said Lacey.
“This is about what we can do with our time and energy to make sure that our community and our students and our parents feel valued and respected.”
New York City is the first major U.S. city to adopt a resolution of this kind, and a trend has been seen across the nation as cities around the country have taken steps to improve the lives of their performers and staff.
In 2014, for instance, the City Council passed an ordinance that requires theaters, bars and restaurants to allow staff to use their first names, and also prohibits people from using “race or ethnic background” to access certain services.
The law also requires venues to provide space for transgender and gender non-conforming patrons.
In March, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a similar ordinance, and last month, the Chicago Board of Ethics voted to ban use of the word “nigger” in the workplace.
“When we think of being a part of a diverse, inclusive community, we look to see who our community is, and who our members are,” said Board Member Krista Gifford, who was elected in 2015.
“And so this is a chance for us as a board, as an organization, as a community, to say that we value and value diversity.”