Our commitment to an
The NOLA Project, as a nonprofit theatre organization, has fallen short in its duty and mission to represent the New Orleans community that we call our home. This failure accounts for several shortcomings, including a failure to properly acknowledge our local artistic predecessors, as well as a failure to embrace, learn from, and properly include the vast collection of New Orleanians that make up our community. To our collective guilt and shame, in a city made up of 60% people of color, our organizational makeup and our work selection have been overwhelmingly white: white actors; white writers; white staff; white board of directors. Our organization has been complicit in perpetuating systemic racism within the arts, and we very much need to change that. We believe that acknowledgement of these faults must come first, and what follows must be a firm commitment and plan for change.
We wish to thank the BIPOC artistic community for drawing our attention to these faults, calling us out when we have fallen short, and demanding change as a result. Moving forward, The NOLA Project shall commit to greatly increasing racial diversity as it relates to our ensemble makeup, the selection of work we perform, the membership of our board of directors, and the makeup of our staff. In order to do so, we present the following action steps:
The NOLA Project hereby commits to the following practices moving forward:
A minimum of two out of three artists invited into our ensemble will be BIPOC. Our current active ensemble is now comprised of 20 artists (15 white, 1 Asian, 1 Black, 1 Latinx, 2 multiple races)
Actively pursue the production of works created by, and relevant to, BIPOC artists
Intentionally focus on hiring BIPOC actors, directors, writers, designers, and stage managers
Seek collaboration with BIPOC leaders and organizations in all activities
Ensure that anti-racism education and work is a part of all board, staff, and ensemble member meetings, retreats, and orientations
Accept and acknowledge that this is difficult work, we will make mistakes, and we may be criticized in our efforts to do better
We will measure our success by the following criteria:
By the 2021-22 season, TNP will appoint a BIPOC artist as Co-Artistic Director
By the next possible season, at least half of all main stage works produced by TNP will be written by writers of color
By the 2024-25 season, TNP’s board of directors will be comprised of at least 50% people of color
By the 2026-27 season, 50% or more of TNP’s active ensemble will be comprised of artists of color
Moving forward, we will hold ourselves accountable to these goals and ask the community’s help in doing so. We must do better, and we will do better. You have our word.
A.J. Allegra, Artistic Director
October 2022 Update
As we commence our 18th Season, we wanted to provide an update on our progress.
Since our initial statement, The NOLA Project has put a strong focus on bringing artists of color into the organization on all three fronts: Staff, ensemble and board
Starting at the staff level, in January 2022, TNP welcomed ensemble member Brittany N. Williams as our new Co-Artistic Director, serving in a shared leadership model alongside Co-AD A.J. Allegra
At this time, our active local ensemble numbers 22 artists, 10 of which identify as people of color
And our board of directors totals 16 community members, five of which identify as people of color
On the production side of our work, our 2021-22 Season consisted of three major works, all of which were fully or partially written by Black-identifying writers, including TELL IT TO ME SWEET, TREASURE ISLAND, and SCHOOL GIRLS; OR THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY. TELL IT TO ME SWEET and SCHOOL GIRLS both featured directors of color and were cast with predominantly artists of color.
Our 2022-23 Season will consist of four plays, two of which are authored by Black writers. We remain focused on creating casts and production teams that are accurately reflective of our New Orleans community and radically inclusive.
A.J. Allegra & Brittany N. Williams, Co-Artistic Directors
August 2023 Update
Since 2011, The NOLA Project has partnered with the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) to present productions inside the museum and its sculpture garden. From William Shakespeare to James Ijames, world-premiere works to adventurous adaptations, we’ve enjoyed bringing live theatre to these spaces in the hopes of creating a welcoming environment for everyone.
In 2020, a rising awareness of the effects of white supremacy prompted organizations across the globe, including The NOLA Project, to investigate their racist and anti-racist intentions and impacts. The NOLA Project publicly acknowledged its own failures on this front and pledged to hold itself and its partners to a higher standard of inclusion, transparency, and accountability.
Since then, The NOLA Project has recruited talent and leadership that more closely reflect the city’s diversity. We have also made a conscious effort to stage productions each season that amplify BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) voices and elevate important conversations about race and racism.
As a part of this effort, we recently proposed a production of George C. Wolfe’s THE COLORED MUSEUM to be presented at NOMA. For the first time in our partnership history, our proposal was rejected. This and other actions taken by NOMA prompted us to reevaluate how this association affects our potential to continue making meaningful changes. In order to ensure we are able to honor the commitments we have made to the artists and patrons of our community, we have decided to end our 12-year relationship with NOMA.
Moving forward, we will actively pursue partnerships with organizations that more closely align with the mission and values of The NOLA Project and – we believe – the community we serve. We hope you’ll join us in a new era of Theatre for the BOLD.