By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
In October of last year, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s board of trustees unanimously voted to adopt a five-year strategic plan. The plan focused on equity, diversity and inclusion.
“We are facing two crises at the same time – one acute with COVID-19 and the other chronic stemming from hundreds of years of systemic racism,” said Chad Bauman, executive director of Milwaukee Rep in a press release. “Our theater is not immune from the systems of inequality in Milwaukee and we must meet both challenges head-on.”
As part of the theatre’s plan, it began working with Kaleidoscope Group to develop an equity, diversity and inclusion strategy also known as ED&I. As part of this strategy, Milwaukee Rep. recently hired Tammy Belton-Davis as the chief diversity officer.
Belton-Davis, the founder and principal of Athena Communications, will be in the position for the next 10 months. In her role, Belton-Davis will work directly with the board of trustees, executive leadership and Kaleidoscope Group.
“Milwaukee Rep is a vibrant cultural cornerstone of Milwaukee, and I am honored to join the leadership team over the next ten months,” stated Belton-Davis in the press release.
Bauman said that Belton-Davis has worked with Milwaukee Rep in the past as a volunteer and a consultant. He noted that she has been a “passionate advocate for our work, a strategic partner in our growth and a mentor to me.”
Belton-Davis’ work as the chief diversity officer will ensure that the theatre is a welcoming and inspiring place for all, Bauman said.
“We are living through incredible times, and in this moment in history our community is looking for leadership to drive systemic change,” said Belton-Davis. “I applaud Milwaukee Rep for exercising the accountability, courage, and commitment required to achieve equity that truly represents our ideal community.”
Milwaukee Rep also created an equity, diversity and inclusion committee. The committee includes Andres Gonzalez, a trustee and the vice president and chief diversity officer at Froedert & Medical College of Wisconsin, May Adrales, the associate artistic director at Milwaukee Rep, Brett Blomee, the president of the Cream City Foundation, Morgan Phelps, the CEO of Colorful Connections and many more.
As the pandemic and protests continue, more and more organizations are becoming aware of the disparities that exist in Milwaukee. By being aware of their own shortcomings, groups and organizations such as the Milwaukee Rep can take the next step to enhance their presence in the Milwaukee community and make sure it’s a place where all Milwaukeeans are visible.