Overview of Center Theatre Group’s Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (AREDI) activities beginning July 2022:
March 2022 – May 2023
SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY WEBINAR
In May of 2023, CTG held a Social Accountability webinar to cover the cross-departmental AREDI work that has taken in the past year as it pertains to ourCommitments to Change. Panelists included folks from our Accountability Team, Artistic, Education and Community Partnerships, and Ticket Operations. This panel was moderated by A’raelle Flynn-Bolden, Staff Programs Manager, and Meghan Pressman, Managing Director. We are looking forward to doingthis more frequently and are currently curating a succinct model that would expand our external communication in a more engaging way.
November 2021 – March 2022
TRANSFORM POLICIES & PRACTICES AND BUILDING TRANSPARENCY
Continued training with Vernā Myers and Culture Change Lab; staff began implementing policy change proposals; began a facilitated process for internal staff values development; developing an AREDI Roadmap; planning community engagement activities around AREDI areas of focus.
April 2021 – October 2021
DEEPEN UNDERSTANDING (Detailed Update Coming Soon)
Staff and Board participated in deep training with Equity Quotient, Culture Change Lab, and Vernā Myers; Board began actively recruiting BIPOC candidates; facilitated department brainstorming sessions which began with the process of reviewing and strategizing how to implement work-group recommendations for change led by the newly formed internal Accountability Team.
October 2020 – March 2021
CREATE NEW STRUCTURES FOR COMMUNICATION, LEARNING & COLLABORATION (Learn More)
Established cross-departmental collaboration among staff through work-groups, workshops, and affinity spaces; initiated full Board AREDI education and restructured a new Board Giving Policy. Continued to work through the We See You White American Theater Demands with the staff Leadership Team.
July – September 2020
BUILD A FOUNDATION FOR THIS WORK (Learn More)
Board and staff engaged in facilitated dialogues on how to best understand and implement the BIPOC staff recommendations. They also worked on learning how to discuss and address past issues of trauma and harm through a series of workshops and all-staff summits that explored the varied national, regional, and local movements for change and their relationship to theatres.
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February 14, 2020
From The Accountability Team
October 2020 – March 2021
In accordance with the second Commitment to Change, Center Theatre Group hired Alexandra Meda and her team at Culture Change Lab—an experienced group of theatre professionals and facilitators who focus on collaborative leadership, healing, and trauma reduction—to work with the staff on cross-department collaboration, setting basic understanding and education around AREDI concepts, building pathways of AREDI stewardship, working collectively on policy changes, and the eventual development of a three-year AREDI Roadmap (Spring 2022). These individuals include Miranda Gonzalez, Jenny Marlowe, Sam Morreale, and Elizabeth Nungaray, with essential support from Leslie Ishii. Center Theatre Group engaged in various collaborative decision-making models that were staff driven through the following core areas of activity:
- A four-month Working Group process
- Weekly affinity space gatherings and micro-trainings
- The creation and ongoing growth of an internal Accountability Team
- Anti-racism training
- Artistic Department engaged consultant Mica Cole to support ongoing change work in the department including the development and refining of department structures and values
Core Area 1: Working Groups. In the past, attempts to integrate AREDI values and practices into Center Theatre Group’s work and culture have fallen short because the task was placed onto a singular role instead of viewed as a shared responsibility. Working Groups were introduced as a space for every staff member to shape organization-wide, structural change. Additional support for the Working Groups was provided by Miranda Gonzalez, an experienced facilitator, and long-time theatre professional and artistic director of a BIPOC theatre. Staff members signed up for one of five cross-departmental Working Groups to provide recommendations around:
- Marketing and community engagement;
- Inclusive hiring and recruitment/mentorship;
- Internal communications planning;
- HR and reporting structures; and
- Expanding approaches to fundraising and development
Staff presented all Working Group recommendations to each other at two staff summits in late January 2021.
Core Area 2: Launching an Accountability Team. The first round of Accountability Team Members include Lindsay Allbaugh and Tyrone Davis (Artistic Department), Olivia Berumen and Priya Patel (Institutional Advancement), Krystin Matsumoto, Merrianne Nedreberg (Production), and Camille Schenkkan (Education & Community Partnerships). At any time, the Accountability Team is composed of no more than seven quarterly rotating staff members from all levels and departments of the organization. The selection of the team members, facilitated by Alexandra Meda, is based on interest and demonstrable commitment to ongoing AREDI work. The team’s main responsibilities are to develop a plan for an upcoming staff positions dedicated to AREDI work; to review the actionable strategies produced by the Working Groups; to develop a policy for the resource allocation of Center Theatre Group’s AREDI budget, and to pilot an accessible and transparent communication structure to sustain and evolve the Accountability Team’s role within the organization.
Every six months, the Accountability Team rotates different members on and off, focusing on equitable representation of BIPOC staff. The team will also report on progress updates and milestones at full-staff gatherings every other month to reinforce a culture of transparency and company-wide collaboration and periodic Social Accountability Updates on our website.
Core Area 3: Affinity Space. The BIPOC Affinity Space and White Learning Affinity Space were established to process ongoing racial trauma on a broader scale and in the context of systemic racism within Center Theatre Group. The BIPOC Affinity Space focuses on healing, building community, and engaging in professional development. The White Learning Affinity Space processes anti-racism training and participates in dialogue around dismantling anti-Blackness, harm, and bias. Affinity Spaces are permanent fixtures that will provide necessary staff support throughout all phases of Center Theatre Group’s AREDI plan and beyond. During full-staff gatherings, accountability sessions will be allotted for person-centered conversations to help staff connect through the lens of the two Affinity Spaces.
Core Area 4: Anti-Racism Training. Center Theatre Group hired Keryl McCord, founder, and CEO of Equity Quotient, to facilitate additional staff and Board anti-racism training that continued through the fall and winter with different members of the Board and staff. Keryl will be returning soon to deepen Center Theatre Group’s collective understanding of the gaps in the organization’s AREDI work, helping us take steps to create a sustainable culture reflective of AREDI values, and facilitating intentional, systemic change. Continuous, deep, and consistent education and training are becoming an essential element of organizational culture.
Core Area 5: Artistic Department Engages Mica Cole. Center Theatre Group hired consultant Mica Cole for ongoing coaching and facilitation to support the Artistic department as it activates and organizes around AREDI issues and practices.
Center Theatre Group will incorporate lessons from this time to inform its next steps towards becoming an anti-racist organization. The evaluation of anti-racist training will be essential to determine future practices regarding staff training moving forward. Additionally, we will assess the new collaborative decision-making model to shape more horizontal, cross-departmental collaboration in other facets of the organization’s work. Finally, Center Theatre Group staff will share lessons learned with the person(s) that fill the dedicated AREDI position(s) to inform the strategies and approaches to AREDI work in the future.
As CTG anticipates an influx of staff recruitment in 2021 in preparation for resuming live productions, moving into 2022, Center Theatre Group will integrate anti-racism training as part of orientation and expect staff to incorporate core values and the theory of social change into their work. We will continue to allocate at least 3% of the annual staff salary burden to the AREDI budget (approximately $200,000 in FY21), create full-time AREDI position(s), and engage external consultants.
September 10, 2020
Today we have launched a Social Accountability section of our website to start to enumerate our progress and reflect on the ongoing steps we are taking and planning. This is not an all-inclusive list; rather, it is an ongoing collection of our actions and plans shared in the spirit of transparency. This update includes the latest on our affinity work, staff workshops, our Board of Directors Committee progress, and our commitment to sustained budgeting for future equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism work.
Since we posted our Commitments to Change, we have been working at the board and staff level to create structures and working groups to carry these efforts forward. Here is a report on some of that progress:
- Our Board of Directors’ Leadership voted in favor of creating a dedicated budget item for equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism, which represents a significant increase over the past several seasons. This is intended to be a standing and sustaining budget item that can support both education and training as well as the staffing of this critical work.
- We are in the process of expanding our artistic team so that it is more diverse and provides the positional power to voices and experiences that are necessary for Center Theatre Group’s future viability. We are waiting for the final details to settle and will announce these changes soon.
- In June, our Board of Directors voted to create a standing committee dedicated to equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. The committee launched this summer and has set its goals for the season to 1) revise the Board’s workplan and goals to include measurable and actionable steps in diversifying its membership and moving towards being an anti-racist organization and 2) create an education and learning plan for the Board, starting with anti-racist training this fall.
- This summer, we launched two ongoing, facilitated staff affinity spaces—a space for BIPOC healing and activation and a white learning space. These are intentional spaces that set the foundation for collective and growing work of accountability and change.
- We have launched a three-part staff workshop series. This started with “Building A Practice of Change,” a workshop that centers on our BIPOC staff and the Statement and call-to-action they shared with Center Theatre Group earlier this summer. This will be followed by a two-part staff restorative forum. We take inspiration from the words of bell hooks: “The ability to critique oneself and change and to hear critique from others is the condition of being that makes us capable of responsibility.” We are joined and guided in this work by a group of national facilitators: Miranda Gonzalez, Jenny Marlowe, Sam Morreale, Elizabeth Nungaray, and led by Alexandra Meda.
- Later this month we will welcome Keryl McCord of Equity Quotient to lead us in the workshop “Raising Your Equity Quotient.” This will provide a working and learning session to wrap up our staff forums and intentionally leads towards a launch of internal accountability working groups.
- Concurrently, we are assessing and breaking down the We See You White American Theatre demands within our Leadership Team and in specific working groups. Many of our recent actions have been in direct response to both these demands as well as those written by our BIPOC staff. We look forward to sharing out additional action steps from that work in this space over the coming weeks.
We know we must take ownership of past failures and act quickly and meaningfully to repair the damage. It is our responsibility, our duty, our honor, to work together to address where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we are going, so that we can build a new, more equitable community.
— Michael Ritchie, Artistic Director & Meghan Pressman, CEO/Managing Director