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Second City co-owner leaves after theater is charged with racism
2020-06-07

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The Second City co-owner Andrew Alexander stepped away from the improv theater after charges of institutionalized racism were leveled against the company, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Dewayne Perkins, in particular, accused Second City of racism, On Twitter, he criticized what he said was Second City's prior reluctance to fundraise for the Black Lives Matter movement without also financially supporting police-related causes.

"The Second City cannot begin to call itself anti-racist," said Alexander, 76, in a lengthy statement Windy City Times obtained. "That is one of the great failures of my life." He also said he had "failed to create an anti-racist environment wherein artists of color might thrive," saying he was "deeply and inexpressibly sorry," and adding that the next executive producer of the company would be a member of the BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) community.

Second City announced June 6 that the company's new interim executive producer is Anthony LeBlanc, effective immediately.

Alexander also said, "After the fallout from the closure of the groundbreaking A Red Line Runs Through It, The Second City tried to begin to grapple with the institutionalized racism in our society and within our own walls that allowed such a traumatic event to fester and has created lasting pain for our employees and artists. However, we failed.

"There are so many things we didn't do, but one of the things we did do was to engage facilitators in the field of anti-racism. I bring this up to acknowledge that it didn't work. White employees of the Second City, myself included, participated in regular sessions taking place over months which outlined in detail the inherent biases in white society, and how those, consciously and unconsciously, oppress BIPOC. Two years ago, I learned about one of the pillars of what I understand to be central to the Black Lives Matter movement: it is not enough to not be a racist; you must be anti-racist."

In a separate statement sent to Windy City Times, LeBlanc said, "While The Second City has sometimes made strides in the diversity of talent performing on our stages, we have grossly fallen short when it comes to supporting that talent—and diversity at Second City—as whole.

"We must face the reality of our failings as an organization and hear the voices of our BIPOC performers, alumni, staff, students, and audience. We need to do better ... because our community deserves better. I, along with the rest of the leadership of The Second City, are committed to making fundamental and long-lasting changes to our company and the many communities we touch. I look forward to being a part of those changes and helping Second City catch up to the present, and, in turn, move [toward] a better future."

The Second City will also begin its search for a long-term executive producer, as previously announced.

Alexander became owner of the Second City flagship in Chicago in 1985, serving as executive producer for hundreds of revues.

The Tribune article is at ChicagoTribune.com .


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