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Red Door Helps Theaters Diversify

OPB | Jan. 18, 2014 11:05 a.m. | Updated: Jan. 18, 2014 2:30 p.m. | Portland

If you've seen our skim of productions onstage this weekend, you know there's a pretty diverse range of shows and actors working in Oregon. But some theaters still find their audiences are a largely homogenous crowd.

August Wilson Red Door Project was founded to make positive change in the racial ecology of Portland through the arts and dialogue.

Inspired by Wilson (pictured), Kevin Jones and Lesli Mones founded the Red Door Project as a resource for diversity work within the arts.

Inspired by Wilson (pictured), Kevin Jones and Lesli Mones founded the Red Door Project as a resource for diversity work within the arts.

Red Door Project

It was inspired by the work of the playwright August Wilson, who wrote a compelling cycle of plays about the black American experience.

This winter, Red Door used grant money from the Miller Foundation to work with Portland Playhouse, Artists Repertory Theatre, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, PlayWrite Inc., Hand2Mouth Theatre, and Profile Theatre. The group calls itself Portland Equity in the Arts Consortium, or PEAC. All members have an interest in diversifying their audiences. For some, that might mean new faces on governing boards or among staff. For others, it meant making diversity a value in the day-to-day work of a company. Watch this space for April's interview with Red Door executive director Bonnie Ratner. 

Bonnie Ratner says putting a diverse series of plays and artists onstage is often not enough. PEAC members were encouraged to come up with their own individual plans for changes in practice and programming.

Bonnie Ratner says putting a diverse series of plays and artists onstage is often not enough. PEAC members were encouraged to come up with their own individual plans for changes in practice and programming.

August Wilson Red Door Project

The final report is posted here, explaining some of the measures the theaters devised to reach their goals.

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