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create / 2021

Expansion of BIPOC Theatrical Programming

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by New Musicals Inc

This grant will support NMI’s program which will elevate the voices of Los Angeles BIPOC artists through the development and creation of short musical theater pieces. Our goal is to develop scripts and songs of a diverse community of performers, promote the work, and showcase the finished musical theatre pieces.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • San Fernando Valley
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)
  • Other:: our program is virtual
  • so we cover all of LA.

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Musical Theatre is a uniquely American art form, but one that has been dominated by white males. On Broadway alone, 95 percent of all plays and musicals were both written and directed by Caucasian artists ( The recent success of Hamilton demonstrates the interest in using this art form involving People of Color. NMI is invested in moving musical theatre beyond its Eurocentric origins to include more diverse writers and audiences. Few in the Los Angeles BIPOC community may have had the opportunity to be trained in musical theatre, and to bring their culturally relevant music and stories to the stage. For the past decade, NMI has been launching programs to diversify our pool of writers (Asian American initiatives in 2006/2016; Latinx initiative in 2007, the Deaf Community in 2016/2019; Veterans in 2020/21). NMI’s BIPOC project addresses the lack of diversity in musical theater by developing programming that promotes musical theatre’s evolution beyond traditional roots.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

This grant will support funding for our Los Angeles based programming to elevate the voices and create short musical theater pieces featuring artists and members of the BIPOC community. Our project nurturing BIPOC artists will begin in the Fall of 2021. NMI will develop the professional musical theatre skills of these Los Angeles-based artists. Working with the BIPOC community, we will identify local writers and musicians and invite them to participate in a six-month NMI mentorship program which culminates in presentations of their finished musical theatre pieces. NMI’s professional, proven curriculum prepares writers and musicians to bring their stories to the musical theatre stage. Individuals will participate in a mentor-based workshop encouraging them to express their own unique ideas and world-views brought to life through the artform of musical theatre. Each participant will complete their own musical theater piece, which will be promoted, presented in a public forum, and then showcased online. NMI’s project will serve approximately 17 writers, plus an additional 60-70 actors, directors, music directors, and stage managers. Our goal is to develop the scripts and songs of a diverse community of writers, actors and musicians. All of our artists and crew receive compensation for their participation in this project.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct impact
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

A 2019 Community Survey found that Los Angeles County’s racial makeup is over 48% Latinx and nearly 8% African American;.yet over 90% of musical theater in the United States is created and produced by white males. Since musical theatre is not at all representative of Los Angeles’ rich and diverse community, NMI’s vision is to elevate the authentic voices of our community and tell their stories. Our BIPOC initiative aims to offer People of Color the opportunity to share their experiences through a unique art form that they may not have experienced. The success of our project will be reflected by the thousands of individuals who view these musical theater pieces online. Los Angeles will be different because these distinctly unique stories will be professionally developed, promoted and showcased.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

NMI has a strong history of success, which is evidenced by the organization’s 40 years of accomplishments. We have developed over 400 musicals, working with such producers as the Celebration Theatre, Deaf West Theatre, Latino Theatre Company, Northern Sky Theatre, and the University of California Irvine’s prestigious Department of Drama. We are active members of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre; a national network of musical theatre producers and theatre companies. We have worked with established writers such as Jeff Marx (Avenue Q), Mark Hollmann (Urinetown), Hunter Foster (Bonnie & Clyde), Stiles & Drewe (Mary Poppins), and Placido Domingo, Jr. (Soul of Darkness). We will define the success of our BIPOC project by 1) the successful development of a library of musical theatrical pieces created by artists reflecting their own unique worldview and, 2) the successful promotion of each piece, performed in a public forum and; 3) the final showcase of each piece presented online.

Which of the create metrics will you impact?​

  • Arts establishments
  • instillations
  • and exhibitions
  • Employment in the creative industries

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to LEARN
  • LA is the best place to PLAY
  • LA is the best place to CONNECT