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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion


Live Arts stands in solidarity with those who denounce the use of suppression, violence, and systemic racism to silence the voices of Black and Brown people in our community and our nation. 

As a historically white theater, we acknowledge that we have benefited from systems that have reinforced institutional inequities to the detriment of many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

We are committed to dismantling the systems, policies, and practices that have perpetuated patterns of injustice. We understand that this requires a collective, sustained effort at every level of Live Arts. We are up to the task.  


In fall 2020, Live Arts formed a 13-member DEI Strategy Team to inform, challenge, and advise us on how to become a more welcoming, inclusive theater. After two years, the work of the original DEI Strategy Team transitioned to a standing DEI Committee on the Board.

The hard work of the following individuals is at the core of our ongoing DEI programs and initiatives:

Beverly Colwell Adams, Co-Chair
Anne Hunter,
Shilpa Davé, Governance Chair
Gloria Rockhold
Fredrick Martin
Vivian Feggans
Derick Williams
Aiyana Marcus
James Bryant
Susan E. Evans
Will Jones
Kelly Dowd


As of January 9, 2023

Diversified our Board leadership over the last two years, bringing our BIPOC representation on the Board to 56%.

Transitioned the work of the 13-member DEI Strategy Team in summer 2022 to the standing DEI Committee, added to our Board in fall 2021.

Hired three new staff members of color since fall 2021, diversifying the experience and perspectives of our staff.

Recommitted to centering under-represented works by women and people of color, an initiative that began in 2018, and creating more meaningful opportunities for directors and actors of color.

Revised our Strategic Plan in early 2021 to explicitly highlight DEI priorities and strategies. Assessed our progress on all initiatives in June 2022.

Launched “Project Access” in fall 2021 to reduce barriers to volunteering at Live Arts, sponsored by Virginia National Bank.

Partnered with The Breath Project, a national network of BIPOC artists and theaters committed to building a more equitable theater community and actively dismantling structural racism in the American Theater. Our first Breath Project collaboration, SILAS, THE UNINVITED by Cincinnati playwright Derek J. Snow, will debut in the 2023 WaterWorks Festival.

Revamped our Employee Handbook in fall 2021 to reflect more equitable hiring and retention practices.

Introduced a Volunteer Bill of Rights to set expectations and protect volunteers from harm. It’s part of a Volunteer Handbook distributed in 2021.

Reviewed our governance and operating policies through an equity lens as part of a year-long Nonprofit Clinic run by UVA School of Law that wrapped up in May 2021.

Met bi-weekly as a staff, beginning in June 2021, to participate in anti-racist training and discuss DEI articles, books, podcasts, and a field trip to Jefferson School African American Heritage Center in fall 2021.

Launched an internal Equity Audit in fall 2021 in partnership with an outside DEI consultant.

Offered Pay-What-You-Can tickets to most performances throughout the pandemic and beyond. This program, launched 26 years ago by Live Arts, is sustained by community partners committed to keeping live theater affordable and accessible.

Institutionalized land acknowledgements to the Monacan Nation and began learning about the people behind those acknowledgements through books, conversations, and staff/Board field trips to the Monacan Ancestral Museum in spring 2022.

Embraced the tenants of the Chicago Theatre Standards, which inform our equity initiatives by creating awareness and systems that “foster safe places to do dangerous things.”

Received one of only five Dominion Energy Foundation arts education grants in 2022 for our inclusive, skill-building approach to summer camps, under the leadership of Education Director Ti Ames.

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