We’ve written before about our desire to support Black and Brown brands. Well, that extends to entertainment, too. Over the weekend, I saw Aint No Mo’ on Broadway; it was supposed to be its last show, just 17 days after opening. Then, Queen Latifah, Shonda Rhimes, Tyler Perry, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith started buying out performances. Then Ain’t No Mo’ got extended until Friday, and 27-year-old playwright Jordan E. Cooper is fighting to keep it going, somehow.
The truth is that despite the last two years of intense focus on diversity, what’s really needed to sustain these products and programming is more marketing dollars, overhauls of current approaches, rewriting old playbooks. In my two decades of going to theater, the audience I sat in at Ain’t No Mo’ was probably the Blackest I have ever seen. One of my key takeaways from the last year (I wrote about this in Time today): It might take nontraditional programming a bit more time and innovation to find its customers. As diversity gains made over the last two years feel more precarious amid economic uncertainty, that time is worth fighting for—across industries.
What can you do? Buy tickets to a show. There’s plenty here. There are also some sites advertising free tickets to fill the seats where celebrities and supporters bought the theater out. And if you like what you see, share it on social media and let your friends know. Our first podcast next year will revisit actor April Matthis, currently performing in The Piano Lesson on Broadway (also worth supporting!) for her take on how to best support New York arts and culture right now. Stay tuned.