EQUITY & ACCESS
As part of our vision for a flourishing arts sector, New Jersey Theatre Alliance is committed to helping our member theatres and the larger arts community become more equitable and accessible for all.
At the Theatre Alliance, the word Equity is not a stand-in for engaging with race or gender and the word Access is not a stand-in for engaging with disability. Instead, we use the phrase “Equity and Access” to describe our intersectional work in this area.
We believe it is essential both to create access to existing arts opportunities and to re-build systems from the ground up with equity at the center. Both of these paths are important to create a just and anti-oppressive arts community for people of all identities.
While the core value of Equity & Access is threaded through all that we do at the Alliance, it is most prominently visible in the following initiatives:
New Jersey Theatre Alliance is committed to fighting racism, white supremacy, ableism, sexism, homophobia, and injustice on stage, off stage, in the theatre field, and beyond. As the unifying entity for New Jersey’s professional theatres, New Jersey Theatre Alliance has a special obligation to manifest our core values of access and inclusion to help move the field forward.
Theatre is predicated on imagination, empathy, and collaboration. It is our responsibility as theatre makers to work together to actively dismantle oppressive systems, structures, and narratives as we work to build a better world in which everyone’s full humanity is seen, respected, honored, and celebrated.
We recognize that professional theatre in the United States exists within a system built on white supremacy, ableism, sexism, colonialism, and heteronormativity, and often replicates those systems of power and privilege. We recognize our potential to be a beacon for the New Jersey theatre field by creating educational opportunities, facilitating group experiences, and expanding community partnerships that support anti-racism, gender equity, disability justice, decolonization, and inclusion for all. We also recognize and honor the ways in which multiple identities and life experiences intersect for each individual.
We commit to naming and changing oppressive and exclusive dynamics in our organization wherever we find them. We commit to being a resource for learning and accountability to our membership as they work to dismantle oppressive culture within their own organizations.
We commit to creating an intentional culture of listening and empowerment for our staff, board, members, partners, and patrons where multiple perspectives, including those that challenge existing systems, structures, and procedures, are encouraged, valued, validated, and respected.
We commit to investing time and resources into programs that cultivate and support underrepresented people on staff, on stage, in leadership, and in the audiences of our member theatres. We also commit to advancing policies, investments, programs, mindsets, and actions to support the Alliance’s continued journey with equity, access, and antiracism.
We commit to offering regular opportunities for learning and action to our board, staff, and the field, specifically with regards to antiracism, accessibility, decolonization, and gender equity.
We commit to cultivating space for connection and healing for theatre makers and administrators impacted by structural and systemic oppression.
We commit to strengthening the ongoing work of our Cultural Access Network Project by incorporating information, presenters, and resources that focus on the ways in which disability intersects with other identities.
We commit to expanding our membership criteria to be inclusive of theatres operating in alternative models, and to specifically seek out theatres led by people of color and other underrepresented identities to explore how membership with the Alliance could serve them.
We commit to centering integrity, compassion, patience, self-reflection, and rigor in our work to move towards a more just and equitable future for our field.
This statement is a living document, subject to change as our organization, field, and membership evolve.
New Jersey Theatre Alliance Equity & Access Committee
Made up of Alliance Trustees and representatives from member theatres, this committee advises the Alliance on internal policy, statements, practices, organizational culture, and staff/board training related to equity and access. The name of this committee is meant to reflect that we want to approach this work with an intersectional lens that includes race, disability, gender, and other identity markers. It also reflects our belief that we must both create new ways of working that are more just (“Equity”) and break down barriers to existing opportunities in our field (“Access”).
Neha Bhalani, CSG Law
Marshall Jones, III, Rutgers University
Krystle Allen, NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Ashley Nicole Baptiste, Jersey City Theatre Center
Laura Ekstrand, Vivid Stage
Kevin R. Free, Mile Square Theatre
Janeece Freeman Clark, Vanguard Theater Company
Diane Parker, PGIM Fixed Income
Gina Pisasale, McCarter Theatre Center
Kelly Ryman, McCarter Theatre Center
Kayla Kim Votapek, Antiracism Facilitator
Kareem Willis, Yendor Theater Company