We at ACT recognize that now is a powerful and invigorating moment of change. We seize this opportunity to work towards becoming an anti-racist, fully accessible, multicultural theatre that is truly welcoming to all. With the help of artists, staff, and others, both in Seattle and nationally, including the demands in We See You, White American Theatre, ACT is doing the work to reform its policies and procedures to create change at all levels of our institution.
ACT believes in the power of theatre to change lives. For too long the lives that our institution has focused on have been predominantly white and able-bodied. We acknowledge that ACT has worked inside biased systems that have continued to center only a small group of our global community. This has led to systems that have caused harm, and we recognize that we have upheld and perpetuated those systems. We, ACT’s staff, trustees, and Core Company, stand in solidarity with and are grateful for those who have stood up for change and are honored to join the ongoing fight for racial justice in this country. We are committed to the goals of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging (EDIAB).
We understand that this work is ongoing, there is no end, no finish line to cross as we continue to learn and evolve as an organization. Being a theatre that is making an authentic effort to improve its culture requires vigilance and care. We will continue to share our steps along this journey with you in the spirit of transparency and continuous growth. Below we have listed the steps we have taken as an organization, and provided hyperlinks to more specific information and to track progress.
In the spirit of humility, transparency, and the ever-improving process we are committed to sharing our work on policies and procedures as we continue our journey.
Formation of the Inclusivity Working Group: The ACT Inclusivity Working Group (IWG) is a joint task force composed of multiethnic, multigenerational, and diverse members of ACT’s staff, trustees, and Core Company. The IWG seeks to advance ACT’s strategic goals of centering equity and intersectionality in its practice and purpose, fostering transparent communication, and focusing on action. This group will develop a culture at ACT where everyone can approach the work in an authentic way, and in an environment that is fully inclusive, in order to facilitate a workplace where our energy is focused on producing world-class art for and representative of our community. Key Responsibilities.
- Strategic Planning: Our strategic plan implemented in 2018 has undergone a complete redraft, based on the urgency of this moment.
- We See You, White American Theatre: We have undergone a point-by-point analysis of the We See You, White American Theatre demands and have developed a detailed action plan for institutional transformation. That work has been slow, but it has also been thorough.
- Redefining the Core Company of artists at ACT as an integral part of the reimagining of ACT’s ethical mission. The Core Company’s original purpose was to encourage an environment of artistic excellence, while creating a home for local artists to experiment and grow. The Core Company has expanded its role within the organization, and members serve as an artistic advisory council that helps to guide ACT on its path to making meaningful contemporary art. The Core Company is a group of artistic collaborators who support the mission of building community at ACT.
- Formation of the Curation Committee: Our goal is more transparency and a reduced likelihood of arbitrary decisions that favor the status quo, by adding new voices and advisors to allow the perspectives of an inclusive community to help inform the decision-makers. Our goal is to bring more diverse voices to the table in the decision-making process for all programming. We strive to define what a great play and great season is for ACT, and commit to publishing clear explanations as to how the decisions are made, the criteria, and what the steps in the process are. We commit to re-examining the gatekeeping function of the curation process and casting a wider net to include and involve new voices.
- Formation of the ACT Ethics Committee: The ACT Ethics Committee seeks to reduce harm and build trust in the creation and production of all work at ACT. The committee sets concrete actions and guidelines to create safe, anti-racist, inclusive spaces within ACT’s walls. The intent of the committee is not to censor but to actively explore areas of potential harm, to set actions to reduce and ideally prevent harm before it occurs, to establish an environment in which participants feel empowered and safe, and to ensure that building trust is baked into the way we work.
At ACT we make the following commitments for the future. We acknowledge that these commitments are the ground floor of equity measures, not the ceiling, and aim to expand and grow in this work as the conversation evolves. At present we span the continuum of completed, underway, and aspirational for the commitments below.
ACT Organizational & Cultural Change
- Commit to re-examining the hierarchical structure of our institutions to ensure equitable participation for BIPOC staff.
- Commit to creating safe, equitable, and inclusive work environments through mandatory EDIAB training for staff, artists, and trustees; creating systems to address incidents without fear of retaliation; intervening when incidents occur, to minimize harm; and repairing any harm that has occurred.
- Commit to diversifying the Board of Trustees.
Human Resources & Hiring Practices
- Commit to hiring two HR employees, one who is dedicated to EDIAB work.
- Commit to transparent hiring practices and working toward meaningful diversity.
- Commit to hiring senior leadership with BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ representation.
Artistic & Production
- Commit to annually reporting BIPOC artistic and production data from our theater, internally and externally.
- Commit to ending the practice of all-white production and technical teams through transparent hiring practices and holding our union partners accountable for their role in perpetuating systems that create obstacles to equitable employment.
- Commit to including a meaningful BIPOC contribution to season planning and artistic decision-making and to acknowledge that contribution.
- Providing clear explanations of the criteria and process by which artistic decisions are made.
- Commit to evaluating all artistic projects through a racial-equity lens through review in both the Inclusivity Working Group and ACT Ethics Committee.
- Commit to ending the practice of all-white design teams and working toward 50% BIPOC representation.
- Commit to expanding community outreach in order to engage BIPOC populations and enlarge the base of BIPOC artists, providers, and craftspeople.
- Commit to 50% representation of BIPOC playwrights in each season.
- Commit to 50% female-identifying playwrights over a period of three years.
- Commit to 75% of all commissions going to BIPOC artists over the next five years.
- Commit to centering BIPOC voices in all new work initiatives.
- Commit to re-examining the workweek structure and hours during a production.