In 2018, composer-lyricist and music director Georgia Stitt codified a spreadsheet she had been keeping as a catalog of women, nonbinary and gender nonconforming musicians into an official online directory under the umbrella of Maestra Music. (It remains a centerpiece of Maestra’s mission to provide support, visibility and community to those marginalized by gender in musical theater.) In 2020, Broadway music directors Kenny Seymour and Stephen Oremus founded MUSE (Musicians United for Social Equity), an organization intended to provide greater access to music department careers for BIPOC workers, which also relies heavily on its own online directory. On June 8, 2023, the latest iteration in these professional databases launched with RISE (representation, inclusion and support for employment) and its theater directory for backstage theater personnel.
In fact, RISE was inspired by Maestra. Lin-Manuel Miranda had been interested in using the Miranda Family Fund to create a database similar to Maestra’s, but for “below-the-line theater” professionals. A chance meeting between Miranda and Stitt led to a partnership that eventually helped to establish RISE.