Update on ACT’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
In June 2020, we shared a statement in response to the continued violence perpetrated against members of the Black community. Our statement ended with:
As a theatre, we are in process of reflecting on the ways in which we contribute to the injustices in our community and society, and we are identifying the actions that we can take to evolve fully into an organization that truly centers diversity, inclusion, equity and kindness. Black lives matter, Black stories matter, Black art matters. We will work to be better allies.
At that moment, we did not have actions to back up our words. To make the changes we need to make to address the systemic racism and institutional injustices in our theatre – and to make these changes last – we would need to dig deep into ACT’s 75 year history and our current institutional culture before we could undertake any relationship repair. We would need to create an organizational ethos that supported the words we shared.
In August, we launched a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee made up of board and staff members including Elizabeth Huddleston, Rick Manheim, Karen Teel, Barbara Blomberg, Jenny Bunn and myself. That committee recommended to ACT’s Board of Directors a year-long process that began in February 2021. The Board enthusiastically supported the committee’s recommendation, and this work will be a main focus for ACT in the coming year. Along with a generous grant from the Teel Family Foundation, the Board has approved a level of funding that is necessary to achieve this real change.
We have begun working with Aisha Adams to do an Equity Audit of our policies, procedures, programs, digital footprint, and physical space. In April 2021, we will begin working with alexandria monque and david greenson at Collaborative Organizing. This will include anti-racism training for all staff and board as well as an in depth assessment of our institutional culture.
We know that there is no finish line to reach; this is a consistent and constant commitment to keep learning, to keep listening, and to keep changing.
We expect to include and involve a wider and more diverse spectrum of stakeholders and community members as we move forward. We will stay accountable and transparent by sharing monthly updates with you publicly on our website, and we are also open to any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have about ACT’s commitment to racial justice. Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].
Susan Harper, Executive Director