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OSF And ArtEquity Launch Digital Series Focusing On Impact Of Structural Racism In Theatres Throughout US

Series co-presented by nation's flagship regional theatre and artEquity, a national leader for radical inclusion and justice in the arts.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival and artEquity announced today the launch of Talking Back, a six-part digital series available both on O! and artEquity.org, hosted by artEquity founder and executive director, Carmen Morgan. Created and produced in collaboration with OSF's director of equity, Sharifa Johka, this breakthrough web series brings artEquity's practice of facilitating hard and necessary conversations to a broader audience.

"Ensuring these conversations and the entire Talking Back digital series is available to everyone through this vital partnership with artEquity, is an incredibly important step toward enacting radical change in this field," said Nataki Garrett, OSF artistic director. "For over 10 years, Carmen Morgan and our organizations have collaborated on ways to bring insight, activism and progress into theatres across the country. I'm excited for this work to be realized, and at this present time."

The collection of conversations captured in 2019, pre-Covid pandemic and in the months before the racial justice uprisings of the past year, reveals the growing movement for equity, diversity, and inclusion across the national regional theatre through conversations with today's leading Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) artistic leaders. Through engagement with founding artistic directors, newly appointed leaders, and activists who have operated at all levels of leadership in arts organizations across the US, viewers learn what it takes to transform not just an institution, but an entire field.

"In these unprecedented times, there is no greater conversation for us to have as a country, and as a field, than who is allowed to be seen and experienced as fully human," said Carmen Morgan, artEquity founder and executive director. "Where there is a gap in empathy, or a gap in one's ability to experience shared community and love, theatre has the power to fill that gap. In fact, it is a most urgent responsibility."

"I was motivated to create this series after witnessing the fierce, unrelenting, often unacknowledged and uncompensated labor undertaken by BIPOC individuals within OSF and across the theater industry as a result of white supremacy culture," said Sharifa Johka, OSF director of equity. "My hope is that viewers will get a glimpse of the many unrecognized, dynamic, and brilliantly gifted individuals who carry the integrity of the artform in their hearts, despite the weight and savagery of structural racism bending their backs. This series is a thank you to them and the many colleagues they represent, and acknowledges the indelible impact that Carmen Morgan and artEquity has made across the entire ecosystem of theatre in the United States. It is indeed long overdue."

Episode 1, BIPOC Theatres: Inherently Political, is now available to stream on O!, OSF's digital platform and at artEquity.org. Join four leaders of BIPOC theatres as they discuss the rewards and challenges of helming their theatres in today's social and political landscape. Artistic directors Wren T. Brown (Ebony Repertory Theatre), Julia Cho (Artists at Play), José Luis Valenzuela (Latino Theater Company), and Torange Yeghiazarian (Golden Thread Productions) talk candidly about what it takes to support their communities, attract audiences, find funding, and navigate the perilous landscape of partnering with traditionally white theatres and foundations.

The full Talking Back digital series, which can be streamed for free with episodes added through March 2021 at http://www.osfashland.org/digital and at https://www.artequity.org/talking-back, includes:

  • Episode 1 - BIPOC Theatres: Inherently Political - Available NOW on O! and artEquity.org. BIPOC founders and artistic directors helming BIPOC institutions discuss their origins, political convictions, artistic achievements, and the hypocrisy of equity trends.

Participants: José Luis Valenzuela, Julia Cho, Torange Yeghiazarian, Wren T. Brown

  • Episode 2 - New BIPOC Leaders, New Leadership Models - Available on January 24 BIPOC artistic directors helming predominantly white institutions discuss balancing their new positions of power within organizations that continue to struggle with structural racism.

Participants: Eric Ting, Hana Sharif, Jacob Padrón, Nataki Garrett

  • Episode 3 - BIPOC Leaders Are Changing the Rules - Available on February 7 BIPOC leaders of color and BIPOC leaders of white institutions gather to discuss radical partnerships.

Participants: Eric Ting, Hana Sharif, Jacob Padrón, José Luis Valenzuela, Julia Cho, Nataki Garrett, Torange Yeghiazarian, Wren T. Brown

  • Episode 4 - BIPOC Fatigue - Available on February 21 BIPOC leaders in US theatre discuss the common stressors and fatigue experienced by BIPOC artists and administrators who work with and in predominantly white institutions.

Participants: Gabriel Barrera, Leslie Ishii, Mica Cole, Seena Hodges

  • Episode 5 - White Fragility/White Activism - Available on March 7 White leaders in US theatre discuss the challenge of white fragility and the responsibility of white people to demonstrate their antiracist values with actions.

Participants: Merilee Barrera, Michael Robertson, SK Kerastas

  • Episode 6 - Movement Building: Creating What Didn't Exist - Available on March 21 Leaders across US theatre discuss their individual contributions to diversify the field.

Participants: Dafina McMillan, David Stewart, Evren Odcikin, Rebecca Novick, Tirzah Tyler

Talking Back was produced with the support of Meyer Memorial Trust, artEquity and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

OSF And ArtEquity Launch Digital Series Focusing On Impact Of Structural Racism In Theatres Throughout US



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