Black theatergoers will be critical this season. No doubt, from investors to producers to theater owners all eyes will be on the numbers—how many seats are sold at shows like The Mountaintop, Stick Fly, Porgy and Bess, and Streetcar. The commercial success of these productions could open up doors for even more African Americans behind the scenes as writers, directors, producers, and composers.
“There are huge opportunities for African Americans to become more involved with the business side of Broadway,” says Leon. “Yes, it is a gamble, but when you do make your money back, you do very well.” He suggests that investors diversify their investment pool among three or five shows to minimize risks and maximize profits.
“The black community must take responsibility in terms of how our culture is preserved and how we curate it,” adds Walker-Kuhne, also a co-founder of Impact Broadway, a nonprofit that engages multicultural young people around theater. “We must be willing to take risks and take ownership on Broadway.”
Here’s a behind the scenes look at the December 2011 Black Enterprise cover shoot