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Pro creative challenges. Pro artists’ rights. Pro arts education. Anti-censorship.

The Arts Integrity Initiative was established in 2015 to follow, research, record and play an active advocacy role in the many incidents which threaten opportunities for the arts to be the best they can be at the educational, community and professional levels. Whether it’s the silencing of student voices or the unauthorized alteration of artists’ work, the goal of the Initiative is to be a centralized resource where artists, administrators, students, teachers and others committed to the arts can turn when illegal or unethical actions seek to compromise or eliminate expressive and educational work in the performing arts.

The work of the Initiative may be public, including documentation on the program’s blog and outreach to the media, or private, offering counsel to those affected but not yet able to speak publicly about their challenges and how best to address them. Since it was founded, the Arts Integrity Initiative has been central to such national conversations as Seattle’s “Craig’s List” critic, the erasure of race on stage at Kent State and Clarion universities, a theatre’s appropriation of a production concept and design from a recent production nearby, and what is being taught about the relationship between directors and playwrights’ intent.

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Howard ShermanThe Initiative is led by Howard Sherman, who began this work independently before affiliating with The New School. Sherman has been executive director of the American Theatre Wing and the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, managing director of Geva Theatre, general manager of Goodspeed Musicals, and public relations director of Hartford Stage Company. He is also the senior strategy director of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts, an independent not-for-profit that advocates on behalf of artists of color and artists with disabilities in film, television and theatre. As a writer, Sherman is the U.S. correspondent for The Stage newspaper in London, and his writing has also appeared in such publications as American Theatre magazine, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal’s “Speakeasy” blog.

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