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What's the Plan? How Theatres are Pledging to Address Systemic Racism

Actions speak louder than words...

The events of this week continue to send shockwaves around the world and theatres everywhere are responding to the public outcry. While many have been quick to issue statements of support of the Black Lives Matter movement, some have taken further steps to promise plans of action to create a better theatre community for the future.

Below, check out which theatres are pledging to take action and how they plan to do it...

Center Theater Group: "In this moment, we are committing ourselves to doing better, beginning with the following immediate steps: We commit to producing and amplifying more voices from Black artists and artists of color in our mainstage programming, to seeking out, empowering, and creating spaces for those who have historically been marginalized or silenced, and to investing in underserved communities throughout all our programmatic and outreach decisions. We commit to seeking help and guidance to educate and encourage the Center Theatre Group family-including staff, board members, producing partners, and audiences-to embrace Anti-Racism and to view all of our internal and external decisions through the lens of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access. We commit to promoting an environment for our staff, artists, audiences, and colleagues that actively works against racism, harassment, and discrimination, with zero tolerance for it. This includes creating programs and support systems specifically for our staff of color-and to make sure that they are heard and included in that process. We commit to changing structures which have previously sustained a lack of diversity in our organization including our hiring practices, professional development investments, and organizational leadership and hierarchy. We commit to holding ongoing public discussions and forums to address these topics and many others, to address our own complicity and past silence, and to listen to our fellow artists and artistic leaders of color. We commit to listening to and learning from our wider communities of color and calling ourselves out as we discover where we are not doing and have not been doing."

Manhattan Theatre Club: "With a renewed spirit, we are moving forward and redoubling our efforts to promote equity and diversity. We commit to working to increase the presence of artists of color, especially Black artists, working on our stages and to actively serve NYC's vibrant community of Black artists in the creation and celebration of their work. We commit to prioritizing and working with our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to analyze our practices and to make all of our spaces firmly anti-racist. Both short- and long-term plans will be an institutional priority. We commit to seeking greater representation of people of color on our Board and in our staff. We commit to mandating and providing unconscious bias training for all staff. We commit to creating an open and safe forum where staff and visiting artists can come together for open discussions. We will urge dialogue and candid communication. We commit to prioritizing efforts to make our productions more accessible to Black audiences. The long-overdue process of fully eradicating racism will be an ongoing one. We are committed to continually reassessing and adding to our plans and we welcome any thoughts that you would like to share with us."

MCC Theater: "MCC is committed to our own ongoing examination of how we can undo the systems of oppression. We will: Continue to invest in board and staff training in equity, diversity, and inclusion. Develop and amplify the many and diverse voices of our Youth Company. Enhance our Public Engagement programs especially to historically marginalized communities through existing and additional partnerships. Continue our commitment to developing and staging voices of color. Work continuously to create a safe, anti-racist space to be shared by artists, audience, and staff. Acknowledge that whatever we do is a lifelong practice and will never be enough."

New York Theatre Workshop: "In our commitment towards being a fully anti-racist organization, we are taking the following steps: Standing in solidarity with black people and communities of color, listening to what is needed, and taking action to address injustice. Continuing to question our histories and practices and disrupting patterns that reenforce institutionalized oppressions and inequities. We remain committed to being a space that actively combats racism, bigotry and violence. Examining our inherent missteps and holding ourselves to a standard that does not accept that this work is ever done."

Playwrights Horizons: "Playwrights Horizons acknowledges our role in creating culture, our responsibility to New York City and the nation, and the privilege we stand to mobilize in service of social justice. In our continued and necessarily imperfect work toward best practices and collective liberation, we are committed to the following: Through our continued programming, and through the creation of new programs, the community of artists and audiences who make up our theater will better reflect the cultural breadth of New York City and our country. Through the stories we tell, we will challenge inherited and accepted notions of identity and history, in the interest of disrupting and dismantling patterns of oppression. By building new relationships with local communities and organizations, we will deepen the impact of new writing in New York City and beyond. We commit to upholding principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in all our practices. We commit to continuing anti-racism training for staff and board, as well as to engaging in constant self-reflection. We will serve as community advocates, amplifying and supporting the work of historically underrepresented and marginalized communities."

Roundabout Theatre Company: "We pledge to address the ways in which Roundabout and the theatre industry have been part of the marginalization of the Black community and how we can correct that inequity. We pledge that equity, diversity, and inclusion will be even greater priorities in our artistic work, education programs, and employment practices, and in our conversations with artists, partners, government agencies, and donors. We pledge that the stories we tell on our stages will reflect an ever-wider variety of backgrounds. We pledge to support and stand with our Black colleagues, staff, artists, educators, students, and audiences, and we will listen to their stories and perspectives."

Second Stage Theater: "We pledge to center anti-racism in our internal and external practices including unconscious bias training. We pledge to hold space for the experiences and pain of our Black community members. We recognize that cultural spaces and institutions need to change to become more welcoming, safe, and inclusive to Black people. We pledge to encourage the open discussion of racial inequality, and to foster safe spaces for community members of color and brave spaces for dialogue. Our call to action is accountability. Our call to action is visibility. This letter will shape our solidarity statement, will be starred and saved in our emails, re-read in staff and production meetings, and on the first day of rehearsals until racism is eradicated. This is an open channel, and we are listening."

Signature Theatre: "In our commitment to build a more just, equitable and anti-racist company, we will match our words with deeds, in conjunction with and inspired by our artists, colleagues and all those who set an example for us to follow. We will: Uplift Black people and communities of color who are oppressed by white privilege and power by listening, providing support, and taking action. We will center this within our core values and beliefs of access and community building. We must acknowledge that in our country, we live within a framework of power that is not evenly or fairly distributed, and privilege is unequal. We will ask white people to understand white privilege. Acknowledge where we have come up short or have not done enough soon enough and work to hasten our internal work to create an anti-racist company by consulting with community leaders who can help to point out our own unconscious contributions to imbalance and privilege. Make shifts in our processes to listen to the voices of the oppressed and disenfranchised. We must acknowledge that Black people are not obligated to teach us how to care for them, and commit to doing the hard work to learn what support they need. Tell stories about, by, and for people from historically underrepresented communities, to appropriately honor the diversity of experiences that enrich our country."

The Shed: "The Shed's management, particularly those who are white, are committed to constantly battle against the tenets of systemic racism and to creating a truly equitable workplace. We will also share our digital platforms and physical resources to support organizations dedicated to social and racial justice."

Soho Repo: "We commit to lifting up the work of Black artists of all types of aesthetics and artistic disciplines; continuing anti-racism work amongst our staff and Board to learn together; practicing transparency and accountability in partnership with the artists we serve; and continuously questioning the work we are doing to never become complacent."

Theatre for a New Audience: "Theatre for a New Audience is committed to confronting this blight, acknowledging its privilege and using its resources to grow as an institution. We will continue to diversify staff leadership and our Board of Directors. We will act to end racism, hatred, and bigotry in any form. This commitment is fundamental to TFANA and we cannot rest until it is achieved. We are home to a Living Theatre with artists of diverse backgrounds, dedicated to freedom of imagination, exploring all aspects of life and art, and bringing all of us together to expand our humanity by experiencing, recognizing and listening to each other."

Email us at to share your theatre's plan of action to confront racism in theatre.

Photo Credit: Jessica Fallon Gordon

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