Following our Initial Commitments and Actions published on September 2, the A.R.T. is releasing today the first of our ongoing quarterly reports to update our audiences, artists, and community on action steps to build anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices into our structure, culture and governance.
The A.R.T. BIPOC Affinity Group and the We See You White American Theater collective have set A.R.T. on a new path with their clear demands that envision a way of making theater and performance that is anti-racist and equitable for all.
In late June, A.R.T. implemented a staff-led search process that centered BIPOC employees and included representation from our boards and external stakeholders to select a consultant to work with the organization moving forward. In September, we began a partnership with Yancey Consulting (YC) to co-design, develop, and activate a plan that embeds anti-racist and anti-oppressive values in how the organization operates and stewards its work. The plan is expected in spring 2021. This work will be led by a core strategy planning team with diverse representation across roles in the organization, age, years with the A.R.T., relationship to the organization, and relationship with communities served, as well as diverse perspectives of race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation. The core team will work with a series of sub-teams devoted to unearthing root issues within the organization’s culture, structure, and community-building practices. These sub-teams will focus on the following areas: Mission, Vision, and Values; Workplace Culture; Decision-Making Processes; Programming and Engagement; Board and Executive Leadership; Internal and External Investments; and Capital Campaign and Building Project.
Over the past few months, every department at the A.R.T. has been in active dialogue around the demands of the A.R.T. BIPOC Affinity Group and the We See You White American Theater collective. At the same time, the entire A.R.T. staff has been in discussion around creating a set of core values that center anti-racism in all of its work. This report outlines actions we are implementing and commitments we are making today, but it is by no means comprehensive. As the A.R.T. works towards becoming an anti-racist organization, we will continue to share additional steps and commitments every quarter.
The A.R.T. displays a permanent and prominent Indigenous Land Acknowledgment in our lobby spaces and will include this acknowledgment in all future published materials. This acknowledgment will also be read at all board meetings, formal full company meetings, and public events, as well as be incorporated into first rehearsals, initial production design meetings, and first technical rehearsals.
The A.R.T. will continue the practice of not holding security agreements with police departments.
A.R.T. protects and prioritizes time for the A.R.T. BIPOC Affinity Group to meet during working hours, and makes BIPOC affinity space available in company meetings. A.R.T. will develop additional affinity spaces for BIPOC staff, artists, board members, audiences, and community members attending A.R.T. events with proper support, staffing, and resources.
A.R.T. also commits to developing a robust anti-racism training curriculum. Training for staff, volunteers, and boards will be recurring throughout their engagement with A.R.T., as well as part of the orientation and onboarding program for each new staff and board member. Anti-racist training for artists will be incorporated into the creative process for each production, tailored to match the production’s needs or goals.
As part of Harvard University, A.R.T. will work with Harvard to review recruitment and hiring practices and include clear salary recommendations for all positions. We will also review all job descriptions to address potential biases.
We will also develop paid positions within productions focused on anti-racism, specifically cultural competency and bystander intervention.
A.R.T. will continue and recommit to the practice of offering full walk-throughs and complete supporting technical documentation of all performance spaces for all designers early in the production process. We will cease the practice of 10 out of 12 technical rehearsals, while ensuring proper time for safety and the creative process.
A.R.T. commits to developing a system to clearly communicate the staffing of the entire production, as known, when offering a role to a performer, designer, director, choreographer, or other creative team member.
A.R.T. will ensure there is proper training for wardrobe, hair, and makeup staff, or engage properly trained professionals, in the styling of and consultations for Black hair and makeup. Relevant policies and practices will be shared with all Black artists prior to their work with our wardrobe and costume staff.
A.R.T. will increase the number of productions generated and led by BIPOC artists.
A.R.T. will continue an audit of our production history, identifying all productions generated by BIPOC artists and analyzing how those productions have been resourced in comparison to productions created by white artists.
A.R.T. will provide additional compensation to artists for work they are asked to do outside their roles on productions, including post-show discussions, donor events, education and engagement events, and participation in the development of marketing plans including social media takeovers and event appearances.
Marketing & Communications
A.R.T. commits to using social media channels to celebrate the voices of artists, theatermakers, and academics in our community, centering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; to share anti-racist resources for ourselves and our followers; to amplify civic engagement opportunities and events; and to inspire continued conversation around equitable theatermaking.
A.R.T. commits to communicating our anti-racist policies to our audiences in quarterly updates as well as in regular communications about visiting the theater or engaging with digital events.
A.R.T. commits to engaging the media in conversations about assigning BIPOC writers and reviewers to cover A.R.T. productions.
A.R.T. commits to setting guidelines and limitations for the use of photography of past productions for the use of future sales and promotions.
A.R.T. will continue to dedicate annual funding for resources and consultation in order to further sustain our core value of anti-racism.
A.R.T. will publish an annual report which will include a breakdown of our organizational budget, beginning with fiscal year 2021. The report will include vendor audits in production, finance, patron services, marketing, and development that outline the breakdown of dollars spent with BIPOC-owned businesses.
A.R.T. will audit the total dollars earned by artists and staff in a season and publish those results in the annual report, specifying the percentage of dollars earned by BIPOC artists and staff.
Boards & Development
A.R.T. has begun a process to audit existing board nominating and governance practices and policies, to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2021. This process will inform the development of a plan to make A.R.T. board service more inclusive, including prioritizing the recruitment of artists for board membership.
A.R.T. commits to making our fundraising practices more equitable, specifically continuing to refrain from fundraising exclusively from BIPOC communities to support the development of BIPOC work. A.R.T. will also maintain the practice of ensuring donor intent by applying money raised for specific productions directly to those productions.
The A.R.T.’s process to become an anti-racist theater will be sustained, ongoing, and foundational to our work. In our commitment to transparency and accountability, we will release our next quarterly report in mid-February. As we continue to share our progress, we welcome your feedback, comments, and questions. We invite you to reach out to us at Feedback@amrep.org.