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East West Players (2016)

East West Players (2016)

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Yale School of Drama
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In March 2016 in Los Angeles, California, East West Players Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang prepared to search for his successor, a new Artistic Director.

Dang would leave his position in June 2016, after more than 30 years with the organization. He had significant success at East West Players and was recently pushed into the national spotlight for his leadership on issues involving diversity and inclusion. Dang stimulated the conversation in the national theater community through the introduction of his 51% Preparedness Plan, which he announced at a Theatre Communications Group conference in 2014.

The proposal challenged theaters to meet one of the following metrics by 2020: 51% of an organization’s staff, board, and artists would be people of color, women, or under the age of 35. However, board and staff members contemplated whether the 51% Preparedness Plan could continue after Dang’s departure. Although diversity and inclusion were critical to Dang and the organization, the theater faced several pressing issues leading up to the transition.

The board of directors engaged the Arts Consulting Group to conduct the search for a new artistic director. The firm also conducted a management assessment. The report had three key findings: Dang’s position needed to be split into two positions, an artistic director and managing director; the board’s role managing the theater needed to be further developed; and once Dang resigned, he needed to cut ties with East West Players. The consulting firm also recommended that the organization retire some of its debt before conducting the search.

The organization was considered one of the nation’s oldest theaters serving communities of color, and Dang knew it was vital to ensure the company was in a strong position once he left. With a variety of challenges facing the organization during this critical transition period from March 2016 until June 2016, the organization needed to decide whether the 51% Preparedness Plan could continue at East West Players after his departure.

This case contains links to videos.

Publish Date: 2017-05-01

Keywords: Los Angeles, Leadership Transition, Mission, Case Video, Organizational Direction

Suggested Citation: Al Heartley, "East West Players (2016)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #16-77, May 1, 2017

Teaching Notes: Yes (contact yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu

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This case is from the Theater Management Knowledge Base, a body of arts management material created by Yale School of Drama Theater Management students and faculty, overseen by an editorial board of leading practitioners. For more information or for help in selecting cases suitable for your educational or organizational purposes, please email yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu.