The Civilian Hotel rooftop was buzzing at brunch hour on June 8 as numerous artists gathered to celebrate the debut of RISE (Representation, Inclusion, & Support for Employment) Theatre, and the subsequent launch of the RISE Theatre directory.
RISE aims to promote visibility for women, BIPOC, and other underrepresented groups in the theatre industry. With the launch of their free national personnel directory, theatre professionals who work backstage and behind the scenes can register to be included, which will help them be discovered for employment.
The directory encompasses all aspects of theatrical production, including choreography, costume design, direction, lighting, management, producing, sound, and writing, among others. Artists must least one verifiable production credit to be listed.
RISE was co-founded by Maestra Music, a nonprofit that advocates for women and nonbinary musicians in the theatre industry, and the Miranda Family Fund (created by Lin-Manuel Miranda). A PSA video was also debuted at the event, featuring several Broadway artists and promoting a call to action: “It’s time for the theatre industry to diversify its hiring practices,” the PSA urges.
“Staffing a theatrical production is often a daunting task and people often miss out on hiring incredible talent because they don’t know where to look,” co-founder Lin-Manuel Miranda said at the launch event. “The RISE Theatre Directory aims to level the playing field for all theatre practitioners and give underrepresented communities a place to be discovered.”
Georgia Stitt, founder and president of Maestra Music, emphasized that “the best way to combat the dangerous idea that skilled people who look like us don’t exist is to offer visible evidence that we most certainly do…RISE Theatre is now set to transform the industry, filling our workforce with skilled artists and laborers who previously had not seen the path to their employment in the theater.”
RISE received supportive funding from theatre organizations and individuals including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Jeffrey Seller, John Gore for Broadway.com, Jordan Roth, The Nederlander Organization, Thomas Kail, and UPS Foundation, as well as partnerships with the American Theater Wing and the Broadway League. The group also partnered with a slew of theatre organizations with similar missions, including Black Theatre Coalition, Broadway Women’s Alliance, Arts Administrators of Color, and more.
RISE’s mission statement is clear: “to build a more equitable and inclusive theatre industry by centralizing DEIA [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility] tools and resources through a network of partners and a national personnel directory that focuses on supporting women, people of color, and folks from underrepresented backgrounds.”