Our commitment to an antiracist theatre

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 antiracism 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

  1. 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

  2. At this time, our active local ensemble numbers 22 artists, 10 of which identify as people of color

  3. 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

Nola Project