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Sandra Gajic: Overture acts on lessons learned in 'Miss Saigon' controversy

Sandra Gajic: Overture acts on lessons learned in 'Miss Saigon' controversy

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"Miss Saigon" is playing at the Overture Center this week, and the show’s arrival is not without controversy.

As a result, we at Overture Center have learned some invaluable lessons that will help inform and shape future programming.

We made a regretful mistake in canceling a panel discussion designed to foster a community dialogue about the cultural context of the story and its portrayal of Asian characters. I have apologized to those involved with the panel for this misstep.

Moving forward, I am focusing on what we can do differently and better, and how we can look more critically at our programming and the criteria we use to select it. This includes how we can better foster discussion with diverse voices in our community and incorporate feedback.

I am pleased to say that work has already started. Overture's Community Advisory Board is made up of 24 community members of various backgrounds. For years members have provided valuable input and represented diverse segments of our community. One tangible output of the board's work is the recent equity criteria created by the board in partnership with Overture's directors and staff. These equity criteria will be the barometer against which we evaluate programming. We’re looking forward to soliciting input on that and enacting it.

It is an important first step.

We are grateful for the lessons learned this past week, and I am confident Overture will emerge a stronger organization more in tune with the needs and desires of the community we serve.

Gajic is president and CEO of the Overture Center in Madison. 

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