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Orlando Shakes in Partnership with UCF Continues Their Commitment to the Black Lives Matter Movement

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Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF has released a statement, sharing, 'We recognize our obligation to be an active part of the solution as we move forward.'

Orlando Shakes in Partnership with UCF Continues Their Commitment to the Black Lives Matter Movement

Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF releases a new statement, continuing their commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement. The letter to the community features a list of goals for the organization, the execution of which will be guided by the newly formed Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee. This committee, made up of diverse board members, staff, and artists, along with Artistic Director Jim Helsinger and Managing Director Douglas Love-Ramos, is meeting regularly while creating specific metrics and tactics to achieve these broader goals, which will become a part of the theater's long range plan.

"In the theater world, organizations across the nation have been meeting and announcing action steps regarding racial equity," says Board President Andrea Massey-Farrell. "We have taken our time to ensure that our response to the community is well thought out and contains goals that are obtainable. We recognize our obligation to be an active part of the solution as we move forward."

Read the complete statement, which was approved by the entire Orlando Shakes Board of Directors, below:

Dear Community,

At Orlando Shakes, we stand against injustice. We condemn systemic racism and brutal acts of violence against Black people. We stand by our Black colleagues, patrons, friends, neighbors, and the entire Black community. In doing so, we in the theater industry must examine our role in systemic racism. Our goal is to be an actively anti-racist organization. We take responsibility and are sorry for the times we have fallen short. We pledge to do better in the future.

After meetings and discussions with Black members of our staff, artists, and board, we have committed to the following actions as steps toward our future. Orlando Shakes will:

Invest in stories about the Black experience. We will program more stories and plays about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) into our seasons.

Fund programs and artistry that celebrate Black lives. We pledge to create a long-term "Celebrating Black Artistry Fund" to facilitate more Black artists, playwrights and investment in the development of Black staff members.

Strengthen our commitment to diversity across our organization. We pledge to increase the number of BIPOC artists, staff, and board members of Orlando Shakes. We will also expand our efforts to diversify our volunteers and audience.

Transform transactional Black interactions into meaningful, lasting relationships. We pledge to reach out, connect and invest into the Black community of Central Florida, not only when we are producing a play about Black lives, but throughout our future.

Create, educate and perpetuate safe work spaces for Black staff members. The message on our front doors state that, "We welcome all races and ethnicities, all religions, all countries of origin, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all abilities and disabilities, all spoken and signed languages, everyone." We pledge to make this true for our audience and our staff, with education, accountability and responsibility to be an actively anti-racist organization, where Black lives are respected, nourished and heard for the important perspectives they bring to our theatre and our community.

The statements above will become a part of our immediate and long-range goals. We are creating and will share action steps, metrics to track progress, and accountability on these points. These goals will be evaluated yearly for further development and changes if measures do not bring about levels of diversity and equality for BIPOC artists and staff. We are committed to a better, more diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist future in partnership with our Central Florida community.

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