Frequently Asked Questions
What is the vision of the JUBILEE?
For one year (the 2020/2021 season), the entire United States theatre community unites in joyful responsibility, celebration and change. Think of it as a yearlong opening night party for the voices of traditionally underrepresented identities.
Take one minute and to learn about the JUBILEE directly from the core producers:
Why should theatres join the JUBILEE?
If you believe that inequity is a problem in our theatres, and in our country, the JUBILEE is an opportunity to participate in a mass movement for change. We challenge the entire U.S. theatre community--professional, community, university, and high school theatres--to take responsibility for our contribution to nationwide inequity and address it through a year of innovative programming.
What counts as innovative to the JUBILEE? Visit our glossary to find out.
Why do this for only one year?
We have to start somewhere. The JUBILEE is a tool that will:
- Enable producers and audiences to know and adore more great playwrights, directors, designers, and theatre artists who have been traditionally marginalized.
- Disperse stories that reflect our country throughout our nation’s theatres.
- Disrupt patterns of inequity that have become habitual.
We hope that the JUBILEE year creates many new relationships and charts a new course for theatre in the U.S. We expect this work to continue well into the future.
Does all of my theatre's work in the 2020/2021 season need to center traditionally marginalized voices, perspectives, and stories?
That would be amazing!
Many institutional participants are "Full JUBILEE," pledging that 100% of their 2020/2021 season will center voices, perspectives, and stories previously marginalized within their current dominant framework.
Other are "JUBILEE participants," pledging to be part of the solution but not committing completely to the full season. This level of JUBILEE participation means you craft your own Innovation Pledge, detailing your specific commitment during 2020/20201.
The JUBILEE asks only that you examine what voices are marginalized within your institution’s dominant framework, and work on your growing edge in the year 2020/2021.
How do I pledge or craft my own?
Right here! As you can see there’s no one answer, JUBILEE Pledges are as varied as the theatres and communities they serve.
You know not every theatre is going to do this, right?
The failure of one or many to join the JUBILEE will not diminish our impact. We hope that everyone who agrees that there’s a problem, will join us in being part of the solution! The theatres that do join will collectively celebrate the unprecedented inclusion of marginalized voices on stages across the U.S.
What if I sign up to join the JUBILEE, but fail to live up to my pledge?
Your pledge is between you and your community! The Committee of the JUBILEE will not police the activities of any participating entity. This is a celebration, a year-long flashmob, a communal action for social change. It’s not a law or a contest; we have no interest in pointing fingers, comparing, or shaming. We hope all participants will work to manifest a diverse, inclusive, and intersectional vision of their 2020/2021 seasons to their fullest degree. If a participant has trouble fulfilling their pledge, we hope that they will reach out to us for support. But the only attention that the Committee of the JUBILEE will generate before, during, or after the JUBILEE year is positive attention.
Can Universities sign on for the JUBILEE?
Absolutely. Universities, high schools, really any theatre in the U.S.
How can I participate if I am not a part of a theatre institution?
Sign the pledge for individuals in support of the JUBILEE! Individuals can advocate for JUBILEE theatres in their community! Individuals can support the JUBILEE on social media! Individuals can join the organizing Committee of the JUBILEE! So much to be excited about for individuals interested in pledging support for the JUBILEE.
What about the theatres that have been doing this work for decades?
They are our inspirations and leaders in this movement. They are what we call our "Cultural Architects." We thank them for leading the way, and encourage everyone to publicly express their gratitude and support of these institutions. More coming soon about how you can nominate an organization or individual to be a Cultural Architect.
I read an article about the JUBILEE in the National Review. What's your response?
The members of the Committee for the JUBILEE are always excited to hear about enthusiastic support of diversity in the theatre. So we will begin our response to the National Review article (“Why is the NEA Funding Discrimination,” March 9, 2017) by quoting this wonderful paragraph by David Marcus:
"I’ve worked in theater for nearly two decades, and during that time the issue of diversity has been front and center at every organization with which I’ve been involved. This focus has paid dividends: Individuals and companies have made choices that have led to the most diversity that the art form has probably ever seen. It is that focus and those choices made by artists of every race and type working together that build meaningful and lasting diversity."
In this, we share a common value. We, too, want artists to “build meaningful and lasting diversity.” For it’s only through diversity and inclusion that all artists will have the opportunity to compete in a more balanced marketplace, driving everyone—straight white men included—to create their best work.
We have a difference of opinion about how we get there. And that’s fine. The Committee for the JUBILEE ("the Committee") is a dynamic group that refines and adapts its ideas to serve this shared mission. We never consider ourselves fixed or strident in our methods. We welcome the National Review’s addition to the dialogue and believe it could be a great benefit to our goals.
However, there are several inaccuracies in the National Review piece we would like to address.
First, the call to action by the Committee is not “from HowlRound,” as claimed in the first sentence of the article.
As a platform for members of the theatre commons to share ideas and opinions, HowlRound accepts articles, blogs, calls to action, and opinion pieces from members of the theatre community around the globe. In that spirit of dialogue, HowlRound made space for the theatre practitioners that comprise the Committee to host the Jubilee information on its platform. We are grateful to them for that.
Second, the JUBILEE isn’t “barring playwrights from selling or producing their work on the basis of race.”
All theatres have the right to program a season that speaks to its mission. It is also any theatre's right to program and participate in a national, year long, festival honoring superlative work by underrepresented voices, and simultaneously adhere to anti-discrimination laws established by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
It is also important to note, when discussing the impact of theatre, the National Review article seems to posit that harm can only be quantified on the production side. We believe we must be inclusive of audiences, including the artists among them, and we address this in our FAQs. Audiences of all demographics, including straight white men, have been harmed by not seeing the full breadth of artistic excellence this nation has produced.
So how do we move towards greater equity and inclusion in U.S. theatre? The JUBILEE is one effort among many occurring in theatres across the country with this goal in mind. A look at statistics and objective measurements can help us quantify. Statistics help us assess where we are and what equitable competition might look like. But art also involves a qualitative measurement. The JUBILEE advocates for education and discovery in order to foster relationships and perspectives, not for permanent quotas based on demographics.
Using the Dramatists Guild’s most recent numbers from The Count, one sees that production of work by men outnumbers work by women at a rate of more than 3 to 1—80% of all plays in their report were plays by men.
In the National Review article it is suggested that, “it is not clear that the problem the Jubilee 2020 is attempting to address is even much of a problem. American Theatre magazine compiles a list of the “Top 20 Most Produced Playwrights in America.” So far, the magazine notes, “2016–17 is the most diverse season yet, with 8 playwrights of color and 6 women represented…” Here, I would note first that only looking at the most produced playwrights leaves out a true picture of the field. But even taking these numbers, if 6 of 20 of the most produced playwrights are women, that’s only 33%. And that’s a problem. Using the numbers from The Count report, only 10% of all plays produced in America are by people of color. Non Hispanic Whites make up 63% of the U.S. Population. So people of color are underrepresented by almost 200% (roughly 10 per cent of plays are by people of color and in an approximately balanced world that would be closer to 30%).
The National Review article states there is a desire to work together to build meaningful and lasting diversity. One way is to build more theatres that aim specifically to serve underrepresented communities. Another way is to marshal our existing resources and make sure they are used to serve our nation’s actual population.
In terms of the actual JUBILEE pledge, participants never state any exclusion. Participants offer to “support a diverse, inclusive, and intersectional vision in the 2020-2021 season,” as a way of “celebrating the work of these traditionally marginalized voices.” Neither supporting nor celebrating is forbidden by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
The JUBILEE is not a mandate. We enjoin theatres to consider what the process and the impact of leveling the playing field through their season selections would be. Then we invite theatres to join us in supporting and celebrating a movement toward equity. It is often pointed out that the JUBILEE has no enforcement mechanism or police committee. The Committee does not want it to have one. If a theatre joins the vision and fulfills their mission by producing Shakespeare directed by a woman, no one is going to exclude them. If every theatre in the U.S. spent the next two and a half years searching for plays, artists, and projects to produce during this national year long theatre festival, the most expansive version of the JUBILEE is fulfilled. The most expansive vision of the Jubilee is not harmed by productions of plays by straight white men. But we ask you to consider what everyone might gain from only a single season-long focus on celebrating our nation’s best artists from traditionally marginalized communities. These artists develop the essential connections of commissions, foundation support, and relationships with audiences and patrons.
We all benefit through the JUBILEE. Under the current status quo, we are all denied the full breadth of the artistic landscape and the full range of voices, perspectives, and stories in the United States. And all artists are denied the opportunity to compete in a more balanced marketplace, which would drive everyone—straight white men included—to create their best work.
What if I have a question that has not been answered in these FAQs?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!