Penumbra Theatre, Minnesota’s only professional Black theater, had been working to evolve its mission into one that focuses on racial equality and healing through the arts. In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, that evolution became urgent and we worked with their team to announce the Penumbra Center for Racial Healing.
It wasn’t enough to just announce it, however. We took action. Because Penumbra has been lifting up black voices for 40 years. And because work keeps twice as many Black and Latinx voters from the polls as white voters. We launched Black Out the Vote, a nonpartisan campaign to increase voter turnout among Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other historically disadvantaged communities. We asked business owners to stand with Penumbra by pledging to give employees paid time off to vote, ensuring all employees an equal opportunity to make their voices heard.
We created #BlackOutTheVote toolkits to help businesses raise awareness, show solidarity and encourage other businesses to join the movement before and on Election Day. Toolkits included black “I Voted” stickers, screen-printed posters and other materials for businesses to “black out” their storefronts, turning them into street-level billboards.
The campaign extended into the digital realm with a website that housed information and social toolkits, complete with pre-made social content for both businesses and community members to download and share to help get the word out about Penumbra’s mission.
Resources and media space were donated by people and businesses that supported our cause, leading to expanded exposure with OOH and wild postings across Minneapolis and St. Paul. Local TV and newspapers also gave earned media attention to the cause.
Businesses in the Twin Cities and beyond participated and there were over 133 million impressions.