I know next to bubkis about Congo Square, and I'm not a huge fan of Marion McClinton as a director, but hot damn if he doesn't burn up the screens at the Chicago Tribune with this open letter about Congo Square. Check it the fuck out, people:
Quit calling yourself culturally specific. A theater that just does plays written by just white playwrights is much more culturally specific than Congo Square. Quit speaking of yourself as a theater that does something different than Steppenwolf when they do Tarell McCraney's THE BROTHER/SISTER PLAYS or the Goodman. You are a theater that does diverse work and seeks to serve diverse communities, which of course means more than just just white Chicagoans. You want the money that is going to other theaters for doing diverse work once a year and who never truly attract the diverse audiences they get the money for because the money is what they wanted, not the audiences or they would have already been trying to serve a diverse pie. Do not apologize for who you are, or what your mission is. It is just as if not more viable to actually attracting a diverse audience (much more diverse than Steppenwolf say) so maybe you should call yourselves a more Chicagoan culturally magnet theater. Second: The board does not run the artistic side of things. They raise money. Raising money is or should be their expertise. They are not artists and whenever boards take over theaters artistically it usually sounds the death knell for the theater. And in a town like Chicago, which has replaced New York as the most vital and important theater town in the country (if not world), the artistic competition is high. A board chair is not going to know the artistic needs of a theater more than, say, Robert Falls. That is the level of excellence and daring you must consistently achieve. If a board cannot raise money, don't fire the artistic director, fire the board.
But wait, there's more! And you can RTWT here!