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Published March 31, 2022

In January 2021, while Playwrights Horizons remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we published our Commitments to Anti-Racism, which acknowledged the significant, long-range work in front of us, and outlined the commitments and action plans toward equity, anti-racism, and anti-oppressive practices across our organization.

In August 2021, we published our first Progress Report toward these goals.

Today, midway through our reopening season, Playwrights Horizons offers a second progress report on our work toward equity and anti-racism.

This effort continues to be guided by the theater’s EDI Working Group, and implemented by the full staff and board, across all departments and the Playwrights Horizons Theater School (PHTS). Staff across all departments have developed specific steps and timelines toward the commitments we have made for the current calendar year.

The rebuilding of our theater - after the extraordinary loss of income, staff, and community we endured in 2020 and 2021 - was a steep mountain to climb; steeper than we had imagined. And while in some areas the progress toward our goals was slowed by these challenges, we saw in other areas significant evolution and accomplishment. What follows is an account of our progress since we last reported:


  • The theater’s Demographic Data Squad summarizes information about the organization’s full-time staff and board (as of December 2021) here.
  • To date, the creative teams of the 2021/22 season have been majority BIPOC. This includes our productions as well as our New Works Lab, Soundstage, Almanac, Lighthouse, and commissioning programs. Our upcoming 2022/23 season also upholds these priorities. 
  • The Development staff is working to build a 6-12 month roadmap designed to prioritize connecting new communities of potential donors to the theater’s mission and long-term goals.
  • The Marketing team has actively diversified the journalists and critics in the theater’s network. Our team continues to center BIPOC writers, editors, and broadcasters (at traditional media outlets, at independent and emerging media, and with early-career BIPOC freelance journalists) in our research, relationship development, and outreach.
  • In collaboration with the Movement Theatre Company during our fall production of What to Send Up… and, alongside the artistic team, the Marketing team has developed a networked approach to audience development with those who have active contacts in our orbit.
  • We also developed a new ticketing approach with our fall production of What to Send Up… — all seats were $35, and the theater made select tickets accessible only to Black audiences. Additionally, we lowered our Young and Student Member ticket prices.
  • The Artistic Advisory Council has now met twice with artistic staff. The Council includes Daniel Aukin, Ashley Chang, Catherine Coray, Jorge Cortiñas, Ty Defoe, Madeleine George, Francis Jue, David Mendizábal, Amanda Spooner, Awoye Timpo, and Jason Veasey. 


  • Executive leadership and members of the EDI Working Group have created the role of Director of Equity and Inclusion Initiatives. The shape of this role has evolved considerably over the last six months, and a wide net has been cast to identify candidates. 
  • Our Anti-Racism Statement is communicated to all creative collaborators, and is read aloud at all first rehearsals for both productions and play readings, as a way of ensuring that all guest artists know our values and can expect that we will ask them for their feedback at the end of the process, via anonymous Google Form (or any channel they might prefer).
  • As we seek to partner with organizations and individuals who share our commitments to anti-racism, the Development team has worked towards establishing criteria for evaluating anti-racist practices, commiting to annually researching major donors to confirm that they are operating in accordance with our values, and creating a process to address any concerns about these partnerships that may arise.


  • We display our land acknowledgment in the lobby (as well as on our website), and we will be mounting a permanent wall plaque. This statement is highlighted at first rehearsals alongside upcoming or existing pieces of theater or art by Lenape artists in NYC. We are continuing to build upon this practice.
  • For the theater’s productions, we have added consultants and theatremakers that share a cultural context in supplementary creative roles, when needed. We have also allocated money in our budget for cultural consultants in our New Works Lab.
    Artistic leadership has invited the theater’s staff to share any thoughts at the outset of a creative process, particularly if they share a cultural context with the project.
  • Staff members met with leaders from several BIPOC-led theaters around the country to identify shared artistic values, and brainstorm symbiotic ways of collaborating that might mutually benefit our organizations. In addition, we offered complimentary and discounted tickets to organizations whose missions aligned with our productions this season, and offered to cross-promote their events. Our hope is that these relationships and additional ones will extend past show-specific interactions and lead to more long-term exchanges of ideas and resources.
  • We have updated and reworded job descriptions to include our values and our commitment to anti-racist practices, and to encourage a more diverse pool of candidates. We have researched and activated expanded job postings and are posting all job opportunities in many new places in an effort to reach historically underrepresented groups.  
  • The board’s Nominating & Governance Committee has begun to discuss succession planning for staff and board leadership. This work is embedded within the theater’s current strategic planning process. 
  • Our Casting department has built a relationship with Cast Black Talent, utilizing their knowledge of the acting community and providing their members with exclusive audition opportunities. We will continue our outreach to similar organizations that uplift BIPOC actors. Casting has also begun outreach to Actors For Autism and The Miracle Players, organizations that support actors who are neurodivergent, as well as meeting with Christine Bruno (Actor and Disability Inclusion Consultant). We will continue our ongoing efforts toward casting actors with disabilities in roles originally written for performers who are able-bodied.
  • We have expanded the theater’s Financial Literacy Program. Certified Financial Planner Ari Teplitz has continued to offer free, individual financial therapy to all staff members. This season, additionally, Playwrights is providing individual financial therapy sessions to all company members (including crew, assistants, and fellows) for each of our season productions. Playwrights is also providing the free completion of a tax return with tax preparer Adam Seigel, and a financial therapy session with Ari Teplitz, to twenty-four artists in our community. In total, so far, we’ve supported approximately fifty artists this season. 
  • At PHTS, we have consolidated several groups into a Faculty Leadership Committee that has been collaborating with both faculty and students to draft school-wide community agreements.
  • PHTS staff members have also developed a new onboarding procedure and faculty handbook, which will include participation in NYU’s Belonging workshops for inclusive teaching.
  • PHTS will participate in a new initiative from the Tisch Drama Office of Diversity Initiatives to train representatives from our school’s team in conflict resolution strategies, who will then run workshops next year to train other faculty and staff.
  • As of January 2021, PHTS has been incorporating the new Tisch Drama Guidelines for Theatrical Intimacy through various classes across all levels of the curriculum.


  • Since our last progress report, we have created an additional affinity space for parents and caregivers. We continue to run existing affinity spaces, we have opened up additional forums on Slack for staff members to gather, and we have a procedure in place for creating new spaces should they be desired. 
  • As we work to ensure consent and clarity of use when sharing artists’ images and stories, we have created a letter template used for all collateral, and will build the soliciting of artist approval into all design processes.
  • We have worked to ensure that all public materials accurately reflect the diversity of our organizational work. In partnership with the Demographic Data Squad, both the Marketing and Development departments hope to find ways to quantitatively measure and report this publicly moving forward.


  • We have created a policy ensuring artist compensation for participation in all fundraising activities, beyond the scope of contractually agreed upon events.
  • Executive staff make considerably less than ten times the salary of the lowest paid FT employees, and that practice will continue. Additionally, in FY22, entry level salaries have been increased by 12%. 
  • We have continued to contribute to playwrights’ health insurance, and to compensate playwrights for pre-production and rehearsal weeks.
  • We have amended our job postings to include the specific salary for each position.  Benefits information continues to be listed in detail in all job descriptions. 
  • As the theater continues to expand its definition of contributions beyond purely economic gifts, the Development department has issued a staff wide survey, to gather information regarding in-kind and pro-bono donations needed and/or already received. 
  • At our theater school, the faculty pay rate was raised an additional 6.25% this year.


  • Our Town Hall event, originally intended to happen in January 2022, was delayed due to the spike in Covid-19 cases. It's now scheduled for July 2022, a time frame which, after further consideration, better aligns with the cadence of our programming.
  • We are working to develop a timeline for future progress reports to be posted publicly.


  • In September 2021, we invited and compensated two theater artists with physical disabilities to tour our building on 42nd Street and provide feedback on areas where accessibility can be improved. Improvements have begun on smaller fixes; we are working on plans and fundraising for larger renovations. We are also planning a similar assessment for Playwrights Downtown.
  • We made substantial updates to our website to improve upon accessibility features (image descriptions, HTML upgrades for screen readers, and more). Moving forward, we will use Google Lighthouse for key annual audits, ensuring that we maintain 80+ on accessibility scores.
  • Production programs are now available with a QR code or URL, sent to ticketholders by email before a performance. 
  • Starting in spring 2022, we will hold our first American Sign Language-interpreted performance in our Peter Jay Sharp Theater.
  • ASL-interpreted performances have already been available in the Mainstage Theater for many years.  
    Soundstage podcast plays are available to D/deaf and hard of hearing people as scripts, by request.

As we continue to share our progress, we welcome your feedback, comments, and questions. We hope you’ll be part of this progress, and we invite you to reach out to us with any thoughts or questions at EDIworking@phnyc.org.
Thank you for being in community with us,
Playwrights Horizons