The BlogSeptember 10, 2021
Responding to Cultural Appropriation
ACT recognizes that we have been uneducated about the cultural appropriation present in our productions. This issue has been perpetuated through harmful costumes, characterizations, and stylings within a number of productions, including Costume Drama. We commit to educating ourselves and we are taking action to prevent future harm.
For the past year, ACT has been working to understand and address the systemic racism and institutional injustices in our theatre. However, we did not think about including any thoughtful criteria or guidelines for Costume Drama, even though this is not the first year that cultural appropriation has been an issue. This was a mistake on our part as the producers of this show.
And, this issue is not limited to our production of Costume Drama. Cultural appropriation begins with a lack of diversity at the table, and over ACT’s long history we have worked with and collaborated with very few artists of color. In short, this is a major blind spot for us.
We are committing to:
- Providing guidelines and mentorship for all involved in future productions with ACT to minimize cultural appropriation in designs, characterizations, hair styles, and accents; paying non-white consultants to lead in these endeavors
- Including actors, models, and other people appearing onstage in costume in conversations about their hair and makeup
- Hiring hair stylists and make-up artists specifically trained to work with people of color
- Changing our production timelines to include earlier check-ins with artistic teams and designers
- Hosting an educational discussion on cultural appropriation in the arts curated by paid, independent consultants and including other local arts organizations
- Continued anti-racism training for all ACT staff and board members
This is a deeper and longer conversation for Asheville Community Theatre to have as we seek to understand and work towards creating a more inclusive artistic community. We apologize for the harm we have caused by our inaction in the past, and we will work to do better in the future.
We are including resources that have better helped us to understand this issue:
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