Guthrie Theater’s debt to women and diversity

Do nonprofit cultural organizations have a particular responsibility to reach into and represent all parts of the community?  Does the benefit of nonprofit status require us to take more risks than commercial theatre?  A recent article explores the Minneapolis community’s reaction to the lack of diversity in a local theatre’s upcoming season.  While this piece focuses on the choices of one artistic director, other leaders in the field have also argued that not all organizations should feel obligated to be diverse.  On the other hand, leadership from theatre companies such as Ten Thousand Things and Actors’ Theatre of Louisville argue that ensuring inclusivity is not only the responsibility of an arts leader, it also just makes good business sense.

I am interested to hear your thoughts on questions about representation, community, and diversity raised here.

Read “Guthrie Theater’s debt to women and diversity” at »


  1. Anonymous says


    Sunny, Thanks for opening up this question. I hope there will be others.

    Well first
    off you should clarify the discussion being 
    Women,  as “Diversity” seems to be
    a catch all diluter of points and discussion which has added to the lack of
    progress all around.  When many speak of Diversity
     in reality they speaking of  Race and specifically Minority programming.
    That situation is changeable from area to area and as such you will get a
    variety of concerns and populations that can be argued to death. However valuable
    the discussion, it needs to be a separate and focused discussion.  

    Women are not a minority in the US!

    But they are
    discussed as if they are a minority in theatre discussions. Because they are a Minority
    Majority onstage. Well they are if only onstage, as directors, actors and in
    subject matter . But that isn’t a true reflection of the nation. 

    The big
    issue with the Guthrie season is Women (or lack thereof) onstage, in the story
    lines, playwrites and as directors. Gender Discrimination (Women) is a bigger
    and more blaring issue.  Women are a
    Majority of the population here in the US. If you separate the discussion it
    becomes a vastly more focused examination of a gross inequity.  

    That is the
    core of the Guthrie Theatre outrage And outrage it should be!

    Women are consistently
    50% or more of the National, population and this doesn’t change drastically
    from area to area.  Women are the bulk of
    ticket buyers, and ironically women’s stories have proven to have the most consistent
    fiscal return in the not for profit theatre. If so why aren’t they being done, considering the economy? Why do
    we still see male centric seasons?  

    Why do we
    not see more women on stage as playwrights or in the stories presented onstage?
      This is the outrage expressed with the Twin
    Cities population and the Guthrie. The serious and blatant omission of parity
    for women.  Mr. Dowling’s crass dismissal
    and sweep under the rug attitude is exactly the disease that NFP theatre has
    promoted.  I wonder where Theatre
    Communications Group (TCG) will come down on the discussion? Rarely or never
    has there been any writing on the subject, although it’s common knowledge and been a struggle to get in print. Is
    this perhaps because the Guthrie, ACT and the large not for profit companies
    who make this a practice are there largest Member Companies????  Time to put the mirror to the face.  

    That is what
    Yes needs to be put toward accountability
    with Not for profit, Regional and Lort theatres.  They get tax breaks regionally and nationally
    but should they be allowed to knowingly discriminate based upon egotistical
    (not necessarily artistic and is pontificated) choices made by a handful of
    overwhelmingly male Artistic Directors?  That’s where it starts and I say Bravo for
    pointing that out in public.

    What is
    being voiced is the public’s dis-satisfaction and for Mr. Dowling to dismiss it
    I would say comes from a place of being out of touch. Perhaps it’s time that
    the Guthrie find someone from the US (not Ireland), perhaps a woman,  who can change with the new century and get
    beyond the English Theatre Basis of what always has been, including his “Panto”
    company that is being imported.  Grasping
    onto classics with no objectivity only promotes stagnation and this sexism.
    From his choices he is baring our female
    artists from growing and working (who already are under represented onstage  3 to 1) and gaining benefits like their male
    counterparts, I would also point out that most schools, universities and
    community groups have far more women who show up than men and this is a huge
    discussion that could be beneficial in a much longer perspective.   Where will they go? We should be
    working for our daughter’s , sisters and mother’s future as artists as well as serving our overwhelmingly female
    theatre audience.

    I would say
    this is true in the majority of the LORT- Not for profit regional theatres. Let’s
    look further.~ This is another article worth investigating.












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