Wednesday, April 7, 2010

American Theatre Wing’s Jonathan Larson Grants maintain status quo of sexism on Broadway

What’s wrong with this picture? The American Theatre Wing announced that its 2010 Jonathan Larson grants had been awarded to 4 men. That’s right, not one woman this year or last year received a JL grant. Since 1997 the Jonathan Larson Foundation has given out 104 grants. Only 16 of those have gone to women or to theatres producing a musical by a woman. The grant is described by ATW as “for individual creative theatre artists to turn to for financial support and encouragement. The Jonathan Larson Grants honor the talented creator of Rent and ensure that his spirit continues to inspire the future of American musical theatre.” I guess they believe that the future of musical theatre is reflected in what’s currently playing on Broadway. There are 26 musicals on Broadway – 23 by men and 3 by women. That’s 12% representation by female musical theatre writers. Just 15% of all Jonathan Larson grants have gone to women. I know there are just as many women writing musical as men so why do these grants help to maintain the status quo instead of encouraging more women’s voices? What’s currently playing on Broadway? Discrimination. Note to American Theatre Wing – we need more Broads on Broadway. In 2011 give only women awards. Feel free to steal that idea.

-Aphra Behn
© 2010