We at ACT Theatre recognize that now is a powerful and invigorating moment of change. We will seize this opportunity to become 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 We See You, White American Theatre, ACT has begun 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, board, 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 understand that this work is ongoing, and we will continue to share our steps along this journey with you in the spirit of transparency and continuous growth. Our progress will be updated every six months. Below we have listed the steps we have taken as an organization, and provided hyperlinks to more specific information and to track progress.
- 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, board, 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. Click for more.
- 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 begun a point-by-point analysis of the We See You, White American Theatre demands and have been developing a detailed action plan for institutional transformation. That work has been slow, but it has also been thorough. We hope to complete the analysis and to publish a fully revised policy handbook by June 2021.
- Redefining the Core Company of artists at ACT Theatre as an integral part of the reimagining of ACT Theatre’s ethical mission. Members serve as an artistic advisory council that helps to guide ACT on its path to making meaningful contemporary art. Click for more.
- 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. Click for more.
- Formation of the Artistic Ethics Committee: The Artistic Ethics Committee seeks to reduce harm and build trust in the creation and production of artistic works at ACT. Click for more.
At ACT Theatre 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:
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 EDI training for staff, artists, and board members; 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 an HR employee who is committed to diversity and inclusion.
- Commit to transparent hiring practices and working toward a majority-BIPOC staff over the next four years.
- Commit to hiring senior artistic and administrative team leadership with BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ representation.
Artistic & Production
- Commit to annually reporting BIPOC artistic and production data from our theater, internally and externally. When the aggregated data becomes available, we will share it here.
- 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 Artistic 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.
John Langs, Artistic Director; Becky Witmer, Managing Director; Leslie Ray Bernstein, Chair of the Board of Trustees; Sarah Pierre-Louis, Chair of the Inclusivity Working Group
On behalf of ACT’s Board of Trustees, Core Company Artists and Staff