Diversity and the Pay-to-Play model

I am feeling strongly that a key to diversity in Theater and Comedy is to remove the Pay-to-Play model. I am really interested in hearing people's opinions on this.

This is not just in regards to many festivals that charge to apply but also in the practice of setting a minimum education requirement for auditions. Many times that minimum education can set a student back at least 600 dollars within a 6-month period. Being on the Director's side of the table for almost two decades, I understand that we want to set a barrier to ensure that we only see high-quality and qualified candidates but I also feel that we're limiting ourselves to a very specific segment of our population.

I've always been for open auditions but I've recently evolved in my opinion on festival applications. I used to see the application process as an income opportunity but now I feel like I would rather make that income flow up elsewhere in the season and open up application opportunity with the hopes of seeing a more diverse talent pool.

This isn't a suggestion for just increasing racial diversity but also social, gender, age, etc. Please share your thoughts on this...I'm ready to be wrong but I'm more ready to hear genuine solutions and ideas.


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