Barrington Stage’s response to the “We See You White American Theatre”

As of 9/28/2020

Barrington Stage Company is grateful to the creators of the We See You White American Theatre document for producing a clear call to action for our theatre and industry. We understand and acknowledge that this list of demands stems from the harm caused to BIPOC artists and theatre professionals over generations of racist policies.

The pandemic has devastated the theatre industry in an unprecedented way, but this unexpected pause provides us the opportunity to create a more equitable, inclusive and just organization and industry.  It is time to reimagine a theatre culture not steeped in white supremacy and oppression, but one that exists as an anti-racist community.

We recognize that Barrington Stage Company is a predominantly white institution, and one that has been served by and is complicit with the structures of racism that dominate the theatre industry. The events of the past few months have compelled us to dig deeper, to examine ourselves, our practices, and our culture, asking what we can do to affect meaningful change. We are committed to listening to the BIPOC community as we begin to take action with a more informed and open mind and heart.

Barrington Stage Company has produced diverse voices and has challenged our audiences with the content on our stages since its inception. Our season that was planned before the pandemic included more than 50% BIPOC artists across a range of plays and musicals; while that season was not produced, we are now able to examine more fully our practices in all areas of support for BIPOC productions. We commit to supporting that work with more sensitivity and awareness of our privilege.  We acknowledge that we especially fall short in developing a  BIPOC audience and recruiting a BIPOC staff.  We are newly energized to do the work necessary to create a more just and inclusive Barrington community.

We reaffirm our commitment to stand in solidarity with the members of the Black community as well as Indigenous and People of Color. It is our most fervent hope that we too will meet this moment, and emerge with more just, equitable and anti-racist theatre.  We are taking the following steps — publicly and with transparency:

Land Acknowledgement/Inclusion Statements

  • We acknowledge that our organization sits on the ancestral lands of the Mohican people.
  • We commit to creating a clear and enforceable Anti-Racism Policy.
  • We will incorporate our Land Acknowledgement, Anti-Racism Statement and EDI Statement into our organization’s Bylaws and publish them on our website and in our season playbill.
  • We will read out loud our Land Acknowledgement, Anti-Racism Statement and EDI Statement:
    • at the first rehearsal and first orchestra rehearsal of each show
    • at quarterly staff meetings and board meetings
    • at the first day of our education programs
    • at seasonal staff and volunteer orientations

Artistic Practices

  • We will continue our practice of having at least half of our commissions from BIPOC writers.
  • We will hire BIPOC directors and choreographers on BIPOC shows and commit that those shows will not be solely about racialized experiences or trauma.
  • We will hire BIPOC dramaturgs on shows by BIPOC writers and/or about BIPOC people or communities.
  • We will hire only fight directors, intimacy directors, wardrobe and costume shop employees with training or experience working with BIPOC artists.
  • We will provide an on-call therapist trained in Anti-Racism for shows that deal with racialized experiences.
  • We will provide culturally competent talkback facilitators for BIPOC shows.
  • We will compensate any artist asked to perform at a donor/special event.

Community Engagement

  • We have added three additional Black community members to our Community Advisory Board.
  • We held a concert featuring Pittsfield’s Black and Latinx talent in August and will continue finding ways for our BIPOC community to share and amplify their stories on our stages.
  • We commit to increasing our marketing budget for BIPOC shows to reach their intended audience as well as continuing to reserve tickets for BIPOC audience members.
  • In addition to our continuing partnerships with the NAACP, ROPE (Rites of Passage and Empowerment Program for adolescent girls) and West Side Legends, we will proactively seek out community partners for projects.

Board

  • Our Board will have completed three EDI/Anti-racism training sessions with an outside facilitator by the end of the year and will continue these sessions twice a year for the foreseeable future.
  • We are adding a Black artist to our Board and will proactively seek additional BIPOC Board members.
  • We will publish online all of our Board members’ outside Board affiliations.

Staff Training and Recruitment

  • Our Staff began quarterly EDI/Anti-racism training sessions in Fall 2019 and will continue indefinitely.
  • We are forming working groups within our year-round staff to examine all aspects of our organization to uncover where racism is built into our systems and to find new ways to move forward as a more inclusive organization.
  • We will commit to Anti-Racism, EDI and Bystander training for all of our full-time staff, seasonal staff and interns.
  • We will investigate how to best implement meaningful Anti-Racism and EDI education for all visiting artists, designers, volunteers, teachers, conservatory students and musicians.
  • We will aggressively examine our internship and professional training programs and the ways in which they have centered on the White experience and learning models.

Hiring Practices

  • We have removed “years of experience” and “education requirements” from our job postings and added clear salary ranges.
  • We are developing scholarships for BIPOC artists in our internship and professional training programs and are offering BIPOC mentorship opportunities whenever possible.
  • We will partner with existing organizations such as the Black Theatre Coalition, Berkshire Black Economic Council and Policy Link to expand our recruitment efforts.
  • We will aggressively pursue hiring a BIPOC marketing consultant.
  • We will work only with executive search firms that have BIPOC consultants on staff.

We acknowledge that this list is by no means complete and that it is only the beginning of our work.  We know we will make mistakes as we strive to become an anti-racist theatre company, but Barrington Stage is resolute in our determination to eradicate racism in our organization.  We will continue to listen to the needs of our BIPOC community and work towards these goals.  We will share our progress on our website, making adjustments as necessary and adding new initiatives based on what we learn.