Stage Lives Matter

Dr. Wanda EverageThis Sunday September 18 at 2pm the public is invited to a Community Conversation on Diversity in Des Moines Theatre. Sponsored by the Des Moines Directors' Group and the Iowa Arts Council, the event is free to all.  Moderated by former vice-provost at Drake Dr. Wanda Everage, the discussion will cover diversity and inclusion in issues such as play selection, casting, volunteer opportunities, outreach, and staff and board of director positions.  

At the Cloris Awards ceremony a few weeks ago, Ken-Matt Martin received a Special Recognition award for his work as Executive Director of the new Pyramid Theatre Company.  In his acceptance speech, Martin addressed "the elephant in the room", specifically the issues of diversity and inclusion and how they affect the Des Moines theatre community.  There was also a protest during the ceremonies by the Des Moines Latinx Forum outside the theatre, in response to their view of casting and other issues affecting upcoming productions in the area.  

As a response to these issues, there will be an open, public conversation held at the State Historical Building auditorium on Sunday afternoon.  Various members of theatre groups in the area will be in attendance, with the stated goal of listening to diverse voices, and to provide suggestions to area theatres for improving operations, outreach, and communication.  

One of the strongest points of Martin's speech was to work together, and not against each other, in developing ways for Des Moines theatre to gain diversity in all areas, not just onstage.  Patrons, volunteers, directors and technical positions, and leadership positions should all reflect a greater variety and ability to not just reflect, but to generate a number of points of view.  This Sunday's "Community Conversation" is a good first step in that direction, to help identify areas of concern and strategies for improvement.  

Please, if you care about Des Moines theatre to any degree, come join in this free discussion to help inform and shape the direction of the community going forward.  We are in a boom-time for the dramatic arts in our area these days, so let's make sure it becomes a reflection of the best of our selves.  


The Des Moines Directors' Group is a coalition of executive and artistic directors from the Des Moines Community Playhouse, Des Moines Young Artists Theatre, Pyramid Theatre Company, Repertory Theater of Iowa, StageWest, and Tallgrass Theatre. The group was formed to share resources, collaborate on projects, and resolve issues facing Central Iowa theatres. 

The Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, empowers Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by cultivating creativity, participation and learning in the arts. Established in 1967, the Iowa Arts Council serves as Iowa's state arts agency and works in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts to build the capacity of Iowa's arts ecosystem. The Iowa Arts Council strives to create opportunities for the arts to flourish in Iowa by nurturing cultural leadership and investing in projects that provide access to arts experiences in communities and public spaces throughout Iowa. 

For more information on the community conversation, contact John Viars, Des Moines Directors' Group, at 515-974-5354.



Ken-Matt Martin Diversity Cloris Awards Pyramid Theatre Company