Mellon Foundation awards $5 million for Black theater initiative

Mellon Foundation awards $5 million for Black theater initiative

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced a $5 million grant in support of an initiative aimed at providing financial support for Black theaters across America.

The largest-ever one-time investment in Black theater will support The Black Seed, a strategic plan developed by the Billie Holiday Theatre, a Black-led Brooklyn-based company, in collaboration with the Craft Institute (Hingham, Massachusetts), Plowshares Theater Company (Detroit), and WACO Theater Center (Los Angeles). Through the initiative, one- to three-year grants ranging from $30,000 to $300,000 will be awarded to fifty Black-led theater companies. The initiative also will support the establishment of a Black Seed National Leadership Circle; the convening of six national networks and coalitions that will meet twice a year to collaborate on advancing the Black theater field; and a national marketing campaign aimed at sharing the story of Black theater in America.

"The Black Seed stands on the shoulders of Black theater leaders who came before and centered the work by us, for us, about us, and near us," said Indira Etwaroo, executive artistic director of the Billie Holiday Theater, in a statement.

(Photo credit: Hollis King/The Billie Holiday Theater)

"Mellon Foundation to provide $5 million to aid Black theaters." Andrew W. Mellon Foundation press release 10/01/2020. Sarah Bahr. "Mellon Foundation to provide $5 million to aid Black theaters." New York Times 10/01/2020.