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Report finds New York writers, stages remain extremely white

Theater's line 45th Street in New York on May 13, 2020. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK (AP) -- A new report on racial representation on New York stages has found that little has been changing -- there remains an over-representation of white actors, writers and directors.

    The annual study, "The Visibility Report: Racial Representation on NYC Stages," from the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, analyzed the 18 largest nonprofit theaters as well as Broadway companies in New York City during the 2017-18 season.

    Over 61% of all roles on New York City stages went to white actors, a rate double the population of white people in New York City (32.1% of residents). According to the study, 23.2% of roles went to Black actors, 6.9% to Asian American actors and 6.1% to Latino actors. That represents a slight improvement from the previous season, which had 67% white actors, 18.6% Black actors, 7.3% Asian actors and 5% Latino actors.

    Overall, nearly 80% of Broadway and off-Broadway shows' writers were white and 85.5% of directors during the 2017-18 season. Last year's report -- on the 2016-17 season -- found that 86.8% of all Broadway and off-Broadway shows were from white playwrights and 87.1% of all directors hired were white.

    The 2017-18 season did see some breakthroughs for people of color -- including Young Jean Lee becoming the first Asian American woman playwright produced on Broadway and the Tony-winning "The Band's Visit," a musical set in the Middle East. But the report warned against celebrating examples that "often serve as the poster child of diversity for a particular season, encouraging a false sense of progress."

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