Tracking Our Commitments To Change
February 14, 2020
From The Accountability Team
On May 30th, 2020, Center Theatre Group published a series of Commitments to Change. Shortly after, the staff and board engaged in a series of dialogues, anti-racism workshops, and affinity space sessions that laid the groundwork for a multi-year anti-racism transformation. Designed to make possible the planning and implementation of those commitments, Center Theatre Group’s current anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion (AREDI) internal programming is only the beginning of this work. We will continue to publish programming and policy change highlights here. To engage more deeply, read more on the specific activities of this journey and staff reflections on the process on the Latest Updates page (Learn More).
PROGRAMMING & POLICY CHANGE HIGHLIGHTS ORGANIZED BY COMMITMENT TO CHANGE
Commitment #1: We commit to producing and amplifying more voices from Black artists and artists of color in our mainstage programming, to seeking out, empowering, and creating spaces for those who have historically been marginalized or silenced, and to investing in underserved communities throughout all our programmatic and outreach decisions.
- Not a Moment, But a Movement is an initiative that celebrates and amplifies the pipeline of Black artists and stories. Presented in collaboration with The Fire This Time Festival in New York City and Watts Village Theater Company, year one featured a three-part digital series that highlighted the work of Black visual artists, musicians, and theatre artists
- Not a Moment, But A Movement’s second season will commission six new plays by Black women-identifying or non-binary playwrights
- Contracted Mica Cole to facilitate Artistic Team change work including values clarification and equitable practices
- 2021/2022 Writers Workshop with Luis Alfaro: Writers include Jami Brandli, June Carryl, Jessica Ko, Penelope Lowder, Julie Taiwo Oni, Lisa Ramirez, Tisha Marie Reichle-Aguilera, Pia Shah, Judy Soo Hoo, and DeLanna Studi
- Organizational commitment to schedule the full Taper 2022/23 season next year with entirely women-identifying or non-binary playwrights and to have it be a BIPOC-majority season, and focusing our Douglas 2022/23 season on majority women-identifying or non-binary and BIPOC playwrights
- Organizational commitment to hiring design teams that are at least 50% BIPOC on self-produced productions on a seasonal basis
- Launched a BIPOC Steering Committee dedicated to supporting the development and execution of strategy and accountability around AREDI work
Commitment #2: We commit to seeking help and guidance to educate and encourage the Center Theatre Group family—including staff, Board members, producing partners, and audiences—to embrace anti-racism and view all of our internal and external decisions through the lens of anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- Created five interdepartmental staff Working Groups to identify and name recommendations for policy and organizational culture changes
- Contracted Keryl McCord, founder, and CEO of Equity Quotient, for multiple Board and staff workshops on the history of racism
- Contracted Keryl McCord for a two-day racism lab that focused on values and action plans for each department around tangible acts of change that will move Center Theatre Group forward in becoming a multicultural, anti-racist organization continuum.
- Engaged Patricia Garza and Culture Change Labs separately for three distinct Social Location workshops for the Board
- Made Vernā Myers training courses mandatory for all staff
- Launched a permanent Board AREDI committee
- Organizational commitment to provide ongoing AREDI training and peer-to-peer AREDI learning opportunities: Every staff member generally spends between 3-4 hours a month in AREDI training and affinity spaces
Commitment #3: We commit to promoting an environment for our staff, artists, audiences, and colleagues that actively work against racism, harassment, and discrimination, with zero tolerance for it. This includes creating programs and support systems specifically for our staff of color—and to make sure that they are heard and included in that process.
- Removal of twelve-hour technical rehearsal days (10 out of 12s)
- Created a code of conduct to be shared with staff, guest artists, and production teams before and during rehearsals
- Launched a BIPOC-majority Accountability Team that works with the Executive Office to provide oversight for Center Theatre Group’s AREDI plan and processes.
- Contracted Culture Change Lab to facilitate ongoing affinity spaces, including White Learning Affinity Space, BIPOC Affinity Space, and soon-to-be-launched Neuro-Diversity/Ability & Allies, Gender Diverse, and Parents In Theatre affinity spaces
- Land acknowledgments in all staff spaces. Permanent land acknowledgment signage is being constructed in all theatres
Commitment #4: We commit to changing structures that have previously sustained a lack of diversity in our organization, including hiring practices, professional development investments, and organizational leadership and hierarchy.
- Removal of Give/Get Board Minimums for all future Board recruitment efforts
- We are undergoing a staff scaling study to make job tiers and progression opportunities more transparent and to assess salary equity
- Launched CTG Leadership Circle, an initiative developed to uplift, celebrate, and support exceptional early- and mid-career staff members. The inaugural class of CTG Leadership Circle is a majority BIPOC-identified cadre that participates in opportunities of professional development to support them in their career journeys and as part of the Center Theatre Group community. Elena Muslar of Confide Creative is the cohort's ongoing mentor and workshop facilitator.
- Artistic Department launches recurring meetings for all-staff where artistic decision-making processes are shared in order to receive feedback from staff
- The Production and Operations Departments launched a Vendor Audit and defined Selection Procedures that will center local BIPOC vendors
- Accountability Team participates in senior leadership discussions as part of the Leadership Team and has involvement in significant staff vacancy searches
- Conducting an ongoing hiring audit across departments that includes changes like mandatory inclusion of salary transparency on job descriptions and job postings
Commitment #5: We commit to holding ongoing public discussions and forums to address these topics and many others, to address our own complicity and past silence, and to listen to our fellow artists and artistic leaders of color.
- Hosted open forums in 2020, including L.A. Theatre in the Time of a Pandemic and Beyond, L.A. Theatre Goes Digital: Creating Online, and L.A. Playwrights: Writing for a Changing World
- In the planning phase for 2021 Social Accountability Town Hall and additional community dialogues
Commitment #6: We commit to listening to and learning from our wider communities of color and calling ourselves out as we discover where we are not doing and have not been doing.
- Committing to performing a land acknowledgment during events, meetings with new staff, vendors, and our broader community
- Following the 2021/22 Season announcement at the Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre that provided an incomplete picture of future programming and artistic intentions, the organization committed to greater transparency and accountability around season planning.The opportunity to share the full spectrum of creative goals and enacting our commitments to change in our programming resulted from the public and internal dialogue with Jeremy O’Harris.
- Hosted a panel for the Board featuring Lydia Garcia, Janice Sinden, Joe Bedard, and Barbara Whitman called “The Board As A Necessary Lever of Culture Change and Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Work At US Theatres,” facilitated by Leslie Ishii and Alexandra Meda.
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