Like many of you, we have been following the news and watching in sadness and anger as another senseless moment of violence toward the Black community has taken place in our country. While we usually take our politics and civic discourse straight to the stage and our community programs, this moment calls for more. This is about human rights. As an organization committed to providing a platform for voices and ideas of all communities, we felt it necessary to make a public comment and join with all the voices raising awareness of a clearly systemic problem. Please know that we are committed to ensuring that what we do as a theatre organization will continue this important conversation, both on and off our stages. Here is the full statement we published online over the weekend:
Our country, our city, our friends, our colleagues, our fellow Americans are suffering now as they have been for generations at the hands of systemic racism and inequality. We must all feel outraged by the continued inequality and violence perpetrated by those in positions of authority and privilege, especially toward Black communities. As a nonprofit theatre, our mission has always been to reflect the community we serve and to harness the power of art to transform society. To the people of color in our community and our country—we see you. We stand with you, we are listening, and like many, we will also always strive to do better. And when we can finally return to our stages, we will ensure you are seen in Los Angeles and your stories are told.
In this moment, we are committing ourselves to doing better, beginning with the following immediate steps:
•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.
•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 to view all of our internal and external decisions through the lens of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access.
•We commit to promoting an environment for our staff, artists, audiences, and colleagues that actively works 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.
•We commit to changing structures which have previously sustained a lack of diversity in our organization including our hiring practices, professional development investments, and organizational leadership and hierarchy.
•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.
•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.
We acknowledge these commitments need to be more publicly measurable, actionable, and have timelines associated with them. Our leadership is beginning to work on an accountability plan, starting with looking at who is in the room for these planning decisions.
We encourage you to explore ways of taking your own actions, both in looking inward and supporting those organizations who’ve been fighting this fight for many years. Here is just a small sampling of the organizations and causes that could use our immediate collective support:
And for those seeking further information, Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles has curated an important list of resources, which can be found online.
Lastly, we implore everyone to ensure they and their circles of influence are registered to vote.
With a heavy but unified heart,
Michael Ritchie, Artistic Director
Meghan Pressman, Managing Director/CEO
Center Theatre Group's Board of Directors*
Updated: June 5, 2020 and unanmiously signed by the Board of Directors on June 10, 2020.