Performing arts pauses for #BlackoutTuesday

Companies and artists across the performing arts sector responded to the #BlackoutTuesday call, showing their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Many paused their work for 24 hours and stopped posting on social media – aside from a single message of support.

The idea began in the music industry, but quickly spread across art and media organisations.

Chineke! Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Talawa Theatre Company, The Metropolitan Opera, Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Hamburg Philharmonie, Volksbühne and many more posted either a plain black square or a message of solidarity on their social media channels.

Artists to post messages backing #BlackoutTuesday included Ariana Grande, Idris Elba and Le Gateau Chocolat.

“We cannot be silent in the face of the abhorrent racist crimes that have been perpetrated, historically and in recent days, in the United States,” stated Chineke! in a post on its website. “The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are just a few of the latest examples of police brutality and institutionalised hostility towards the Black community.

“We are all hurting as a result of these crimes. They are an indictment of a broken system, and a society that desperately needs reform and healing. This is a time to pause and reflect as well as protest.”

The movement was not universally embraced, with some mocking it as a “white guilt day”, while others said sharing Black culture, literature and anti-racism messages would be better than staying silent.

“Don’t let your…outrage be passive or limited to this event, this week,” commented Le Gateau Chocolat on Twitter. Others reminded people not to use the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, as this is being used to organise other events that could be drowned out.

Both Instagram and Twitter reported that tens of millions of people had posted with the #BlackoutTuesday hashtag.