A.R.T./New York Launches Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

A.R.T./New York Launches Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York) has announced a new comprehensive, theatre-specific sexual harassment prevention training that meets New York City & State requirements for individual employees, freelance artists, and contractors. This inclusive and distinct curriculum addresses the unique conditions of working in theatre and facilitates a shift in the environmental status quo around sexual harassment by going beyond the minimum requirements for legal compliance.

A.R.T/New York is the leading service and advocacy organization for New York City's not-for-profit theatre community. For over 40 years, A.R.T/New York has served 410+ member theatres in managing their companies, which has equipped the organization with a deep understanding of the distinct realities and challenges of working in theatre. Many theatre practitioners create work outside of institutional structures, which presents unique artistic opportunities as well as distinct circumstances; for example, on stage intimacy and the potential for sexually suggestive content makes the entertainment industry unique, and unlike a corporate work environment.

After hearing comments and concerns from the theatre community and observing key social moments such as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, A.R.T./New York developed this training with a sense of urgency and responsibility to provide solutions for the field.

"I am proud that we have become advocates in training so people can have enough information and be empowered to shift the culture around workplace sexual harassment. For A.R.T./New York, this is really a sweet spot, because we are able to help theatres of all sizes in all five boroughs," said Ginny Louloudes, A.R.T./New York's Executive Director. "I hope that all of our members take advantage of this training."

A.R.T./New York developed its sexual harassment prevention training to shift the conversation beyond liability and risk and uplift values such as affirmative consent, accountability, and body autonomy. This process was a collaboration between A.R.T./New York staff and community members; a series of mock trainings and feedback sessions allowed for the direct involvement of community members with the development of the curriculum. The training was also created in conjunction with lawyers, administrators, artists, facilitators, social justice activists, arts advocates, queer people, disabled people, people of color, women of color, trans/gender non-conforming/nonbinary people, and many others. Intersectionality-both in identity, and in roles and responsibilities-was instrumental in understanding the complexity of this work. As more individuals participate in the training, the curriculum will continue to evolve and reflect the changing nature of the field.

"Oftentimes, instances of sexual harassment occur at the intersection of other forms of microaggression or discrimination. We are aware of that and wanted to center diverse and often marginalized voices when building out this curriculum," said David Shane, A.R.T./New York's Membership Manager.

While the training is designed to meet government requirements, it also approaches sexual harassment prevention as a communal responsibility. People often hold multiple roles in the theatre ecosystem outside of any one organization, and this training encourages participants to cultivate a personal commitment to creating safer work environments in addition to being in compliance with newly updated labor laws.

"People find the burden of working on this education so onerous that they will fall back on the free resources available; while those resources get the ball rolling in the right direction, they do not meet the specific needs of theatre-makers," said Hope Chavez, A.R.T./New York's Programs Manager. "A.R.T/New York's creation of this training equips the theatre community with necessary language to address their needs. It also models ways of working across power levels, so that as an industry we can begin to take a look at the lesser grievances and actively create an environment that is toxic to the existence of sexual harassment."

This new training is only one piece of a larger, ongoing conversation around sexual harassment prevention. By providing the tools, skills, and language needed to participate in this dialogue, A.R.T./New York hopes to assist its member companies and the wider theatrical field in implementing sexual harassment prevention practices that invite them to create safer workplaces and better art.

For more information regarding Sexual Harassment Prevention trainings administered by A.R.T/New York, visit https://www.art-newyork.org/sexual-harassment-prevention-training

The new Sexual Harassment Prevention Training is part of A.R.T./New York's Body Autonomy Program, which is made possible through generous support from the New York Community Trust. The Body Autonomy program is overseen by a leadership council of members of the community which holds A.R.T./New York accountable when it comes to implementing a program that is supportive, responsible, and responsive. The A.R.T./New York Body Autonomy Leadership Council consists of Becky Bodurtha, Elena Chang, Rachel Dart, Luci DeVoy, Orion S. Johnstone, Liz Morgan, and Casey York.

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