Tag Archives: equity

Link Roundup! – 2/5/16

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

The Atlantic has an article exploring the history and future of the National Endowment for the Arts as it approaches its 50th anniversary:

Fifty years ago, the National Endowment for the Arts was created to address just such inequity. On September 29, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Endowment for the Arts into existence, along with a suite of other ambitious social programs, all under the rubric of the Great Society. Johnson imagined these programs as ways to serve “not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.”

Half a century later, the ethos upon which the NEA was founded—inclusion and community—has been eroded by consistent political attack. As the NEA’s budget has been slashed, private donors and foundations have jumped in to fill the gap, but the institutions they support, and that receive the bulk of arts funding in this country, aren’t reaching the people the NEA was founded to help serve. The arts aren’t dead, but the system by which they are funded is increasingly becoming as unequal as America itself.

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Jack Reuler, Artistic Director of Mixed Blood Theatre in MN, lists 111 Nuggets for Being a Successful and Ethical Artistic Director​ on HowlRound:

Years ago a St. Paul kindergartener named Reuler was asked to demonstrate that he could count. As he got into three digits, he counted one hundred eight, one hundred nine, eleventy, eleventy-one… at which time he was stopped by his teacher and corrected, being told that it is, correctly, one hundred ten and one hundred eleven. The five-year-old responded “If 81 is eighty-one and 91 is ninety-one, then 111 is eleventy-one!” and held his ground. While that may have, in another time, led to a diagnosis of oppositional defiance disorder, that young contrarian became determined to live a life in which things aren’t always what they appear to be or what others name them to be. My fascination with the symmetry of numbers remains to this day and so having 111 (eleventy-one) nuggets that I have gleaned through decades of leading a regional theatre in America will, hopefully, save years of discovery through trial and error for new artistic directors.

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Link Roundup! – 1/8/16

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Daveed Diggs (center) as Thomas Jefferson in "Hamilton." (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Daveed Diggs (center) as Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton.” (Photo by Joan Marcus)

American Theatre published a post in support of the playwrights that a few recent casting controversies centered around, and include over 1300 signatures from artists and students across the country who share their support:

Yes, this can be a complex and nuanced discussion. Yes, we enter into those discussions with different perspectives and familiarity with the issues. Yes, the missions of educational institutions are different from those of professional theatres. It is critical, however, that we don’t let those differences and complexities keep us from acknowledging the systemic racism that afflicts our country, nor our power as storytellers and community builders to end it.

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NPR highlights a recent article from The Atlantic about color-blind casting, arguing that color-conscious casting in film and television leads to a richer viewing experience:

We know that whiteness often masquerades as a kind of baseline experience without inflection or inclination in American life, and so we tend to buy the idea that progress for actors of color means a choice between roles in which their character’s race is either utterly unremarked upon (see early Grey’s Anatomy), or where race is the entire point (12 Years a Slave and other productions About RaceTM and hardship).

Of course, the backgrounds of the characters needn’t be foregrounded in every scene for it to be acknowledged. I’m thinking of Creed, the very good recent entry to the Rocky canon that doesn’t run away from the fact that the successor to the Italian Stallion is a black dude who navigates a distinctly black social setting. The same could also be said of Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series about the life of a struggling actor in New York. The show is sometimes a straight-ahead romantic comedy, and other times it deals directly with the way being desi complicates and informs the professional and personal life of Aziz’s character. (It probably matters that both are the creations of people of color.)

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 CHESHIRE ISAACS/IMPACT THEATRE GOP presidential candidate Len (played by Michael Uy Kelly) is interviewed by a cable news personality (Matthew Lai) in "Mutt," a wild satire about race and politics playing at Berkeley's Impact Theatre. ( it )

CHESHIRE ISAACS/IMPACT THEATRE GOP presidential candidate Len (played by Michael Uy Kelly) is interviewed by a cable news personality (Matthew Lai) in “Mutt,” a wild satire about race and politics playing at Berkeley’s Impact Theatre. ( it )

Impact Theatre, based in the Bay Area, has announced that they will be closing later this year:

“We’re stuck in a weird financial place because most grants require you to have an annual budget of $100,000 or more,” Hillman says. “And we can’t make enough in ticket sales to grow. All that money to grow comes from grants and donations, and when we’re doing new plays by emerging playwrights in a basement with pizza and beer, our audience always skews really young, and those people just don’t have a lot of money. That was the audience we wanted, that was the audience we went for, and that was part of the whole point of keeping ticket prices accessible.”

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The Nonprofit with Balls blog has some good reminders about how the term equity, while a great goal to strive for, can easily be watered down and turned into another meaningless buzzword:

At this early stage in the development of equity as a mainstream concept, the dissonance is understandable. We are all still trying to grasp what equity is and what it means for our field. But there are too many instances of dissonance out there that if we don’t stop to reflect, there is danger of “Equity” doing more harm than good, since it can lull us into a false sense of security. True equity requires us not to just throw around concepts at summits and sprinkle terminologies on websites and strategic plans, but to reevaluate our beliefs and practices and definitions and board and staff composition and leadership and hiring practice and funding allocation processes and who is at the table and who set the table in the first place, etc. It requires us to change our ways of doing things.

Link Roundup! – 11/20/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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The Duchess of Malfi with Erika Miranda and Jalen Gilbert. Photo by Michael Brosilow - See more at: http://howlround.com/color-conscious-directing-three-more-questions-to-ask#sthash.d5Df0kzo.dpuf

The Duchess of Malfi with Erika Miranda and Jalen Gilbert. Photo by Michael Brosilow

In HowlRound, Lavina Jadhwani examines what it means to be a color conscious director:

Since I first wrote about color-conscious casting, I’ve learned—by directing my own productions as well as casting plays that I did not direct—that color-conscious casting doesn’t guarantee a color-conscious production. Diverse casting is a cause; a more challenging and/or inclusive conversation is not inherently an effect.

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Boston Magazine continues the coverage of Boston’s arts space issues, with a particularly pointed look at Mayor Walsh’s participation in finding solutions:

Compare Walsh’s response with what happened in 2003, when the city faced another crisis in the Theater District. Back then, the Wang Center for the Performing Arts—now the Citi Performing Arts Center, the same one Citi is pulling out of—summarily booted the Boston Ballet’s beloved production of The Nutcracker to make room for a carpetbagging production of New York’s Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The next morning, Mayor Thomas Menino was on the phone trying to secure the Hynes Convention Center as a new home for the ballet. (Thankfully, that never happened—right sentiment, absolutely wrong venue.) Menino worked behind the scenes for months to seal a deal for the ballet, which leased the newly restored Boston Opera House at affordable rates and eventually took its toe shoes and tutus there for its entire season.

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#StaffChat: Diverse Hiring Practices

#StaffChat posts feature issues, articles, and news that the C1 team discusses as part of our weekly all-staff meeting. We’d love to hear your thoughts too — hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!

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This week we are exploring ways to make our company more inclusive and how to ensure we create a staff that is diverse and representative of our city. Here are a few articles we’ll be using to prompt our conversations:

Illustration by Javier Jaén

Illustration by Javier Jaén

The first article from Medium, written by former Twitter Engineering Manager Leslie Miley, is an interesting case study. Although his essay gives insight into workplace diversity issues in the tech world and not in an arts context, a lot of the problems at Twitter are present in workplaces of all kinds. In the piece, Miley details some of the problematic approaches to diversity he witnessed at Twitter:

Personally, a particularly low moment was having my question about what specific steps Twitter engineering was taking to increase diversity answered by the Sr. VP of Eng at the quarterly Engineering Leadership meeting. When he responded with “diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar.” I then realized I was the only African-American in Eng leadership.

Why wouldn’t there be a concerted effort to invite the few African American employees to these events? Is it because, as one colleague told me, “they forgot that you were black?” Is a prerequisite to working in tech as a minority that one is expected to, in the eyes of the majority, sublimate your racial identity to ensure a cultural fit? In attempting to achieve the appropriate level of blackness that makes me palatable to tech, had I unwittingly erased the importance of maintaining my blackness in a sea of white faces?

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#StaffChat: The Jubilee

#StaffChat posts feature issues, articles, and news that the C1 team discusses as part of our weekly all-staff meeting. We’d love to hear your thoughts too — hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!

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This week our staff is examining The Jubilee — an initiative inviting theatres across the country to commit to producing only plays written by women, people of color, LGBTQA individuals, and writers with disabilities during the 2020–21 season.

Here are a few of the articles we’re talking about this week:

In the first HowlRound post, the committee of The Jubilee lays out their vision for the future of American theatre, along with quotes from some of the artists that are involved in the initiative. Aditi Kapil, the Playwright-In-Residence at Mixed Blood Theatre and a former C1 playwright, thinks about the intention of the project like this:

It’s like we’ve all been hanging out at this party and one guy keeps talking and talking, and now it’s 2020 (8:20 p.m. in this metaphor) and we decide that, just for a minute, everyone else is going to say stuff, respond, talk to each other, change the subject, whatever. And that goes on for a minute. And then it’s 2021. How might the conversation have shifted or evolved? And what happens now that we’re all talking? Because that’s generally when the party gets good, right? That’s what I wonder about. A lot.

TheJubilee_Logo_1

The companies that have already taken the Jubilee pledge are listed on HowlRound, but the invitation is still open to anyone who wants to join. Participants are invited to a weekly conference call to talk about how the project is going, but it’s worth noting that no one will be monitoring the companies that sign on or making sure each season fits the project’s goals — Jamie Gahlon explains this idea further in American Theatre:

“Right now, the role of the Jubilee committee is really to help amplify the fact that that institution has made the pledge,” says Jamie Gahlon, senior creative producer of HowlRound and Jubilee committee member. The 39 theatres who have signed on so far “are joining this huge national block party that we are having, more or less,” says Gahlon. “I think the responsibility for following through on the pledge and figuring out specifically what it means to that theatre or that community really falls on the person who has signed on. I don’t think anyone on this committee wants to be policing any of that, we don’t feel like that is our role.”

This announcement has stirred up quite a bit of conversation online, with lots of questions being raised, as well as a fair amount of negative response from people who feel the initiative is exclusionary. In response to criticism Catherine Castellani posted a follow up on HowlRound:

I’ve read responses to Jubilee that actually state that systemic sexism/racism is OK because no one flat out comes out and says No “You People” Allowed. You’re free to say it; that’s your right. But the rest of America is not going away. You get to choose your response to change. You can attack your fellow artists, or you can do something else—something positive and worthwhile.

You don’t have to be an ally. But don’t be an enemy.

We’re going to spend some time talking about a few of the questions raised in response to Jubilee at the upcoming staff meeting. Here’s a few to get us started in advance:

  • – If C1 were to take the Jubilee pledge, how would our 2020/2021 season look different from our usual seasons?
  • – How would theatre in Boston be different if C1 joined Jubilee?
  • – What artists would you want to see produced in a Jubilee year?
  • – Jubilee specifically focus on the identity of playwrights — how do you think that does or does not change the conversation about equity in theatre?

Link Roundup! – 8/28/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Caleen Sinnette Jennings, left, and Karen Zacarias are two of the playwrights whose works are being presented during the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. (Kirstin Franko)

Caleen Sinnette Jennings, left, and Karen Zacarias are two of the playwrights whose works are being presented during the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. (Kirstin Franko)

The Washington Post has a feature about the upcoming Women’s Voices Theatre Festival in D.C:

That throat-clearing you hear is the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, an unprecedented wave of world premiere plays by women that has already begun to take over Washington’s stages. It’s a coordinated attack on the nagging gender gap that no city has tried before, with 46 theaters offering 52 full productions of new works by women.

“As far as I know,” says festival co-producer Nan Barnett, “there’s never been anything this intensely focused, in this kind of time period, on full productions.”

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Vu Lee’s post on equitable funding on the Nonprofit with Balls blog has some good insight into the funding process and what makes grant applications accessible to organizations of all levels:

For the past few years, everyone has been talking about Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competency. This is good. But when these things do not actually come with profound changes in systems and processes, they can actually cause more harm. Equity, in particular, has been a shiny new concept adopted by many funders. A basic tenet of equity in our line of work is that the communities that are most affected by societal problems are leading the efforts to address these challenges. And yet, many foundations’ application process is deeply inequitable, leaving behind the people and communities who are most affected by the injustices we as a sector are trying to address.

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Link Roundup! – 4/3/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Shaun Blugh, 30, has been appointed the City of Boston’s first-ever chief diversity officer.  Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Shaun Blugh, 30, has been appointed the City of Boston’s first-ever chief diversity officer. Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

The Boston Globe has a story about the mayor’s new Office of Diversity and their efforts to make Boston workforces more equitable:

A glimpse at the city’s roughly 15,000 full-time employees underscores their challenge. In a city in which people of color constitute 53 percent of the population, Boston’s municipal workforce remains 61 percent white, according to records released to the Globe under the state’s open records law. Women slightly outnumber men at City Hall, but on average are paid 7 percent less than their male counterparts.

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The Non Profit with Balls blog has a post up about “Fakequity” — a term he coined for organizations that claim to be interested in creating equity, but don’t participate in active change:

So how does this apply to Equity? People seem to think that forming an equity committee, talking about equity, sending staff and board to trainings, “listening” to communities, conducting research and gathering data, and adding terminologies to websites and brochures are sufficient to achieving equity. But no, these things are necessary, but not sufficient. When we just talk about Equity and go no further, we are guilty of Fakequity. I’ve seen many well-meaning organizations and foundations spend years talking about equity, congratulate themselves on it, and don’t do anything else that would actually help to bring about Equity.

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