Counting Together, a growing coalition of theater artists, arts professionals, and organizations engaged in separate, long-term studies of race, gender, and disability in our field, announces the launch of a new online resource (CountingTogether.org) designed to provide free and easy access to industrywide data and statistics in these areas. By telling the stories of its findings, Counting Together’s stated goal is to identify and forge pathways to greater equity and inclusion. Currently made up of fifteen separate projects, Counting Together includes both individuals and groups engaged in countering systems of exclusion in the theater.
The Counting Together website is a model of collaboration across the theater and meant as a resource for artist, activists, and advocates. With research on equity, inclusion, and access by artistic discipline, economic sector, and location, this collective action uses data collected from the ground up—by actors, designers, playwrights, composers, educators, students, and arts administrators—to tell the story of race, gender, and disability within the American theater now. It’s intended to encourage greater access in all areas of the profession and to stimulate a greater sense of agency in artists themselves.
Counting Together was formed in early 2019, though many of the participants have been researching on their own for a decade or longer. In the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the spring of 2020, the coalition was expanded to include newer artist-led initiatives collecting testimonial evidence of racism in the profession and/or taking steps to make change on a local or national basis.
Counting Together partners include: American Theatre Wing; Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC); Baltimore Theatre Demographics by Brent Englar; Bay Area Theater Accountability Workgroup; The Count, The Lillys & the Dramatists Guild; “The Count” for Liberal Arts Colleges, Davidson College; Gwydion Suilebhan, Olivia Haller, and TheatreWashington; Derek Miller, Historical Perspectives; The Living Document of BIPOC Experiences; Maestra Music; Porsche McGovern, Who Designs & Directs in LORT Theatres by Pronoun; Performers with Disabilities Watchdog Report, Anita Hollander; The Sol Project; Stage Directors and Choreographers Society; Theatre Development Fund; Theatre Makers of Color Requirements; and Women Count. Two years in the making, the website is hosted by The Dramatists Guild and the American Theatre Wing and facilitated by Todd London, Director of Field Engagement for the Guild, and Luis Castro, Advisor to the American Theatre Wing.
Counting Together’s projects cover a broad range of specific interests and methodologies. They investigate representation for people working within different disciplines, including performers, playwrights, directors, designers, musicians, technicians, dramaturgs, stage managers and administrators. They focus on different locales and sectors of the field, including Broadway, LORT, specific cities and regions, etc. Most important, each defines its own community of concern by race, gender, disability, singly or intersectionally.
Each or these projects emerged out of a passionate commitment to a more equitable and representative American theater. Each gives a clear picture of a field in which women, people of color, people with disabilities, and transgender or non-binary artists are greatly under-represented in all disciplines in relation to the demographics of the culture at large. Despite these different angles of vision, the view is similar: there is neither parity nor equity in hiring and curational practices in the American theater.