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Arts & Entertainment, etc.

Quotas in theater schedules?

April 13, 2009
The Denver Post offers a thought-provoking piece about "slot plays." That is, an annual "African-American play" or "Hispanic play" that fills a regular slot in a theater's schedule. Right now, to some eyes, the IRT is doing that with "Crowns" and the Phoenix with "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot."

According to Post theater critic John Moore, "slot plays" are "a double-edged sword. They offer clear evidence of a company's ongoing commitment to underrepresented communities. They expose the mainstream audience to lesser-known writers and theatrical styles. But slot plays can be seen as condescending to the very people they aim to attract. It happens every February when companies slot annual Black History Month plays, then forget that African-Americans exist for the rest of the year."

"Of course," he adds, "the alternative to slot plays is no slot plays. And that has not worked out well in the past."

The question: Is slotting a quota system? And does that matter if the work is of quality, additional audiences are attracted, existing audiences are satisfied, and the work fits into the mission of the theater?

Your thoughts?
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