Update - April, 2021
April 1, 2021
Dear Milwaukee Rep Community,
In one month, we will celebrate the incredible culture and contributions of the AAPI community during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. But today we mourn and decry the increased violence occurring against the AAPI community.
More than 3,800 national hate incidents committed against the AAPI community have been reported since 2020 and it has had a profound and tragic impact on the Asian community and its allies. The increase in hate incidents reported by Stop AAPI Hate has been widely circulated. Those numbers represent people, across our nation, harmed from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021:
- 3,292 anti-AAPI incidents occurred in 2020 and over 500 have already occurred in 2021
- Types of discrimination in these incidents include verbal harassment (68.1 percent), shunning (20.5 percent), physical assault (11.1 percent), civil rights violations (8.5 percent), and online harassment (6.8 percent)
- At 42.2 percent, people of Chinese descent are the largest ethnic group experiencing Asian hate
- Children from 0 to 17 years of age made up 12.6 percent of the incidents
- AAPI women reported incidents 2.3 times more than AAPI men
And this is merely a snapshot of the astonishing hate experienced by our neighbors and friends, both near and far. It should go without saying that this hate must stop. We say it loud and clear, STOP THE HATE. Our staff ED&I workgroup, Champions Uniting Experiences (CUE), is currently planning a series of convenings and celebrations for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May to honor and elevate the tremendous contributions of local AAPI artists, staff and community leaders.
The work to build and influence community continues. Last month we officially launched REP Forward, Milwaukee Rep’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Plan. Key to our plan’s vision of success is valuing the diversity of our artists, the authenticity in their storytelling, and the work produced on stage and in the community.
Recently, we selected 10 local high school students to participate in the regional finals of the 2021 August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC). The virtual event was held on March 29 via Zoom with the finalists performing their monologue in front of an invited audience, including a panel of judges. In the past the top two performing students would receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City to perform in the AWMC national finals on a Broadway stage, this year the two finalists will compete virtually. Winners of the Milwaukee Regional Finals are: Yexuanj Rivera Melendez from Milwaukee High School of the Arts and Fardowso Shidad from Rufus King High School and the alternate finalist is Kamani Graham from Pius XI High School.
Milwaukee Rep honors the legacy of August Wilson as a new host of the AWMC as well as its continued productions of Wilson’s work. We have presented 7 of the 10 plays in Wilson’s Century Cycle, most recently with Two Trains Running in 2019, and have full intention to present the full canon for our audiences in future seasons.
In addition to the success of the AWMC event, on March 31 we hosted a panel discussion on the COVID-19 vaccine and BIPOC communities, titled “Let’s Talk Vaccinations: A Conversation on COVID-19”. This discussion was a demonstration of Milwaukee Rep’s commitment to being the change we wish to see inside and outside of our walls by addressing issues that impact our community.
With health experts and community leaders, Dr. Ivor Benjamin, Andres Gonzalez, Paula Penebaker, and Ericka Sinclair, we discussed how we overcome vaccine hesitancy within BIPOC communities and encourage these communities to receive the benefits of these life-saving vaccines.
To further demonstrate our commitment, Milwaukee Rep is encouraging vaccinations among our staff through both educational resources and a financial incentive. Each one of our employees will receive a payment of $200 upon completion of vaccination. It is incredibly important not only in terms of protecting our staff in general, but also protecting our patrons and artists.
While we continue our community impact work, we are pleased to resume in-person performances with the production of First Lady of Song: Alexis J Roston Sings Ella Fitzgerald from April 27 to May 23 in the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater. The City of Milwaukee approved Milwaukee Rep's reopening plan at 25% capacity, and extensive plans are in place to safely welcome patrons back to the theater.
Let us remember those impacted by unthinkable violence and support AAPI organizations working to ensure the community not only survives but also thrives.
Thank you for continued partnership with Milwaukee Rep.
President, Board of Trustees
Trustee & Chair, ED&I Committee
Chief Diversity Officer