A new report on racial representation on New York stages has found that little has been changing — there remains an over-representation of white actors, writers and directors.
The annual study, “The Visibility Report: Racial Representation on NYC Stages,” from the Asian American Performers Action Coalition in partnership with the American Theatre Wing , analyzed the 18 largest nonprofit theaters as well as Broadway companies in New York City during the 2017-18 season.
Over 61% of all roles on New York City stages went to white actors, a rate double the population of white people in New York City (32.1% of residents). According to the study, 23.2% of roles went to Black actors, 6.9% to Asian American actors and 6.1% to Latino actors. That represents a slight improvement from the previous season, which had 67% white actors, 18.6% Black actors, 7.3% Asian actors and 5% Latino actors.
Overall, nearly 80% of Broadway and off-Broadway shows’ writers were white and 85.5% of directors during the 2017-18 season. Last year’s report — on the 2016-17 season — found that 86.8% of all Broadway and off-Broadway shows were from white playwrights and 87.1% of all directors hired were white.
The 2017-18 season did see some breakthroughs for people of color — including Young Jean Lee becoming the first Asian American woman playwright produced on Broadway and the Tony-winning “The Band’s Visit,” a musical set in the Middle East. But the report warned against celebrating examples that “often serve as the poster child of diversity for a particular season, encouraging a false sense of progress.”