Anti-Racism Work at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

TheatreWorks has, since inception, had at its very core a belief in the shared humanity of all the world’s citizens from every race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation and ability. With humility, we realize that this core belief has not grown with the times and that we must do more to become a multicultural and anti-racist organization. The ongoing violence toward and repression of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) points to an ongoing disease, a virus, a pandemic of racism and discrimination that has plagued America for over 400 years.

We believe that Black Lives Matter and that we must as a nation work together to dismantle structural racism that dehumanizes and destroys the black body. We are committed to making theatre that celebrates the human spirit and builds bridges between communities and individuals from diverse backgrounds. We are grateful for the work of groups like We See You White American Theatre and our own community of BIPOC artists and are listening when they tell us that we have not gone far enough. We acknowledge that we have caused and continue to cause harm and pain as our community and country grapple with the trauma of centuries of racial injustice.

We also acknowledge that TheatreWorks is, in many ways, at the beginning of the journey to actively engage with anti-racist work. We are in the process of shifting to a different model of how we approach the art on our stages, who we interact with in our community, who we hire and collaborate with, and more. We are actively working to dismantle systems and structures that have been in place that are holding back our progress in being a more inclusive and truly anti-racist organization. 

Our goal is to be aspirational and transparent with our methods. We are not looking for a quick fix and commit to a long-term process of change. With a sense of urgency we will build on the good work from the past, recognize our shortcomings, and include our community in building a new series of priorities.

The following vision statement, glossary, and transparent update represent a collective of ideas and prioritized action items that are evolving and will be updated regularly. 

(Updated September 28, 2020)

RESOURCES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

 

IDEA Collective Vision Statement

The IDEA Collective (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access-see glossary below) is a group of staff members that envisions TheatreWorks Silicon Valley as an anti-racist multicultural theatre company committed to uplifting the spirit of all humanity. We pledge to interrupt racism and bias towards anyone due to race, gender identity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, ability, class, or age. We acknowledge that, as a historically white organization, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has participated in upholding structures that perpetuate oppression and we are dedicated to dismantling institutional practices that implicitly uphold Eurocentric perspectives and undermine Black, Indigenous, and People of Color’s voices. We pledge to transform the culture of our workplace, our theatrical performances, and our educational engagement; to foster a more pluralistic audience and donor experience; and to expand our community partnerships to reflect our ongoing commitment to more inclusively celebrate everyone’s human spirit.



Glossary

Inclusion is inviting and valuing all diverse communities with true and radical equity. We strive to become a welcoming organization, especially for those who have been underrepresented on and off our stages including all artists, audience members, trustees, technicians, educators, teaching artists, volunteers, donors, and staff. 

Diversity is the presence of differences that may include race, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, ability, and age. A commitment to diversity means acknowledging populations that have been-and remain-underrepresented and marginalized in the broader society and welcoming them at all levels of leadership and participation in our artistic process and institution.

Equity is promoting justice, impartiality, and fairness within our procedures, processes, and distribution of resources. To achieve equity for TheatreWorks requires a continual and vigorous interrogation of the policies and systems within our society and theatre company that lead to inequality and disenfranchisement.

A​ccess is the concept that all people have equal chances at advancement, learning, participation, and leadership regardless of physical, economic, social, or cultural differences. A commitment to providing access for all means we must continually question and rebuild all systems, practices, and structures at TheatreWorks that lead to the exclusion of any individual or group.

 


A Transparent Update on our Progress and Action Steps

Here are the steps that we have put in place to build a deeper and longer commitment to change and systematically do this work.

  • We have shared the demands and valid issues brought forth by We See You White American Theatre with our full Board, our entire leadership team, and our IDEA Collective.
  • We are working at the staff and board levels to prioritize these demands and issues to implement policies and procedures and cultural changes we need to make to move us toward an anti-racist future.
  • We will host a retreat with our full Board dedicated to this topic in October.
  • We have retained an experienced consultant to provide facilitation and training of anti-racism and inclusion, diversity, equity, and access work.
  • We are building on the work of our IDEA Collective to rigorously look at the policies and procedures that we need to reevaluate in order to make meaningful change.
  • We have created the new staff position: Director of Community Partnerships, which will create long-term, trust-based, and reciprocal relationships with BIPOC and under-represented communities throughout Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, and beyond.
  • We have launched initiatives to build online programming that shines light on social justice and racial equity. We will continue to deepen and grow these programs moving forward.

 

“Take a long, hard look down the road you will have to travel once you have made a commitment to work for change. Know that this transformation will not happen right away.”

- Rep. John Lewis