Message from the Board President: Inclusion in the Arts Closes After 31 Years of Service

  • By · March 1st, 2018

Dear Friends of Inclusion in the Arts:


It is with bittersweet pride that I announce, on behalf of my peers on the Board of Directors, that the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts ceased operations as of December 2017 and is in the process of dissolving its 501c3 organization legal status.


Established in 1986 as the Non-Traditional Casting Project, the organization was created to promote and advocate for full inclusion of artists of color and performers with disabilities at all levels of production in theatre, film, television, and related media.


Under the leadership of Sharon Jensen, who served as Executive Director for nearly 30 years, Inclusion in the Arts forged alliances with artists and advocates from underrepresented communities, and worked with decision makers and union leaders throughout the industry to advance the inclusion of all artists. She and her staff launched the nation’s first online talent bank for actors of color and disabled performers, and spearheaded expert consulting services on disability issues for writers, producers, directors, and casting directors.


Among its many awards, Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts and Jensen were recognized in 2009 with a “Made in NY” award, and in 2011, with a Tony® Honor for Excellence in Theater.


“At a moment when this country is facing hard truths about where we all stand when it comes to equity, diversity and inclusion, our mission is more relevant than ever,” notes board member and co-founder Joanna Merlin.


However, the board came to the conclusion that its efforts to carry forth Inclusion in the Arts’ mission would require significantly greater resources, capacity, and leadership than our modest operation was able to sustain. With the emergence of stronger and equally dedicated partners advocating for artists of color and disabled artists, we decided that it was time to pass on the torch to our partners, and bring closure to Inclusion in the Arts’s existing services.


The board wishes to extend its deepest gratitude to the many philanthropic and programmatic partners who have played an integral part in our campaign to promote equity and inclusion throughout the arts and entertainment industry.


We give special thanks to our funders, Actors’ Equity Association, Actors’ Equity Foundation, SAG-AFTRA, Screen Actors Guild-Producers Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Industry Cooperative Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc., The Edith Meiser Fund and TSC (Theater Subdistrict Council), and the many individuals and organizations who have supported Inclusion in the Arts over the years.


We celebrate Sharon Jensen for her vision, humanity, and extraordinary leadership over the years. Those of us – and there are many – who count ourselves among the devoted friends and supporters of Inclusion in the Arts, do so with great pride and because of Sharon Jensen.


At the same time, Jensen’s accomplishments would not be possible without the long-term commitment and perseverance of her talented staff: Disability Advocate, Christine Bruno, served Inclusion in the Arts for 12 years and continues to work in the field as an actor, teaching artist, activist and independent disability consultant. After 9 years of service as Disability and Programming Associate, David Harrell remains an equally ardent activist while staying active as an actor, performer and filmmaker. We thank them both for their continued advocacy as professional artists, activists and leaders in the field. We also thank Howard Sherman for his role as Acting Director during our initial transition phase, and to Lillian Cho for her guidance as Interim Executive Director in leading the board and staff through our final transition phase.


Thank you to all of our dear friends and supporters, for being a vital part of our journey. Please join us in recognizing our organization’s many contributions since 1986 to advance its mission of promoting equity and inclusion in the arts. We hope that Inclusion in the Arts’s pioneering spirit and legacy will continue to inspire new generations of advocates to ensure that American theater, film, television and media more accurately reflects our diverse society.



Linda Earle

Board President


Please note the information on this website exists only for archival purposes.




Inclusion in the Arts served for 31 years as the leading advocate for equity, inclusion, and diversity to represent the full vitality and dynamism of American theatre, film, and television. Its mission was to achieve a theatre, film, and television industry that reflected American society; where each artist was considered on his/her merits as an individual; where the stories being told were drawn from diverse experiences; and where our individual humanity and forms of expression could be celebrated. For archival information on Inclusion in the Arts’ history and programs, visit

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