Illustration by Peter Oumanski

Every issue, GRAZIA USA highlights 17 Game Changers, who inspire, educate, and celebrate individuality, beauty, and style. Meet Georgia Stitt, the composer and conductor broadening Broadway’s reach through the organizations Maestra and Get to Work.

I’ve been in the business for 20 years or so. And very often, I am the only woman on the music team. In recent years, I started to feel that I was being hired to solve a problem, like, “We need more women! We need to solve this problem that everyone who works in the department is a white man.” At first I felt a little bit like, I don’t want to show up to just be the person who fills your quota. But then I started to think, No, I’ll get in the room. I’ll do the job. I’ll do it well, and then you’ll want to hire me again.

Five years ago, I was working on an Off-Off-Broadway show, and our director asked us to hire an all-female band. We were surprised how hard it was to do it! Both because we had to acknowledge our own biases and then because our first-call lists of the people that we like? They were all men. When we started looking for the women that do this, not only did we not know them, but our regular players didn’t know them either.

So, we started pulling together a database of women who would be available. I thought, This should not just be a database that lives on my computer. This should be a resource that’s readily available. More and more people started saying, “I want to hire more women. How do I find them?” So, I hired a web designer and built what has become the website for my nonprofit organization, Maestra (maestramusic.org).

Now we have over 1,000 women and nonbinary people in the directory, and we have all sorts of programs and resources and initiatives to make sure that these musicians are visible to the world that’s looking to hire them, and visible to each other so that they can build community and start to know each other and recommend each other.

The Broadway shutdown was on March 13, and by the end of March, every job I had lined up for the rest of the year canceled. My husband is also a composer and musician and the same thing was happening for him; our lives were going away. It started to affect what I write, because I was wondering, What is performing going to be in the future?

Because in addition to what’s happened with the pandemic, there’s also been a social justice awakening. As Broadway reopens, I’m not feeling a sense that the industry is saying, “Here’s how the industry is going to be different.” What I feel is, like, “Hey, we’re open! Please buy tickets!”

Let’s take this moment to reflect on who we were and who we want to be; to make amends. We can be different. We can be more equitable. There can be more social justice. There can be more racial and gender equity. There can be more accommodation of disabilities. There can be all of the things that we certainly wish the industry and the world were. Can we build them now? The Get to Work website (gettowork.org) is the gathering of 19 community partners that are not-for-profits on the ground doing that work. We are shining visibility on who they are and what are they are doing that you can incorporate. For example, if you want to set up a lactation room in your theater so that more moms can work, here’s how you do that.

Our hope is that if you are a person with some sort of power in theater and you’re, like, “Boy, I really would like to respond to the call for social justice and implement some change at my theater but I don’t have any idea where to start,” this website can say, “Here are some things you can do.”

If you do one of these things, you’re making the theatrical space a little bit better.If you’re a theatergoer wanting to effect change, just be an informed audience member. Buy the tickets to support the people doing it right. Support it with your dollars.

It can be really daunting to think, Well, I can’t solve racism. Or even, I’m not racist. This doesn’t affect me. There are so many ways that you can distance yourself from it. But if you identify one thing and say, No, this is actually a problem. I’m going to hold myself accountable. I’m going to raise the bar for myself and my own behavior. And I’m also going to donate some money to support the work that people are doing to draw awareness or to call out bias in that space. We can do a lot with that. If everybody did it, it would add up.

— As told to Melissa Cronin

Learn more about Stitt’s efforts by attending Maestra’s event called AMPLIFY, on March 28. Tickets at maestramusic.org/amplify/ or join for free online.

To read more Game Changers, pick up GRAZIA USA’s March 2022 issue on newsstands and email contact@graziausa.com to subscribe.