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EQUITY & ACCESS

 

 

New Jersey Theatre Alliance is committed to helping our member theatres and the larger arts community in New Jersey become more equitable and accessible for all. 

We believe it is essential to create pathways of access to existing arts opportunities by removing barriers to participation, and building mentorship and training opportunities for emerging and established theatre professionals. We also believe that theatre and the arts are in need of true transformation and change, which can only be accomplished by re-building systems, policies, and expectations from the ground up with equity and justice at the center.

Programs

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:

Our Commitment

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.

Resources

Committee

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”).

Committee Co-Chairs:

Neha Bhalani, CSG Law

Marshall Jones, III, Rutgers University

Committee Members:

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

Gina Pisasale, McCarter Theatre Center

Kelly Ryman, George Street Playhouse

Kayla Kim Votapek, Antiracism Facilitator

Kareem Willis, Yendor Theater Company