We Stand Together
Statement of Solidarity, Commitments, and Actions, June 2020:
New Jersey Theatre Alliance is committed to fighting racism, white supremacy, and injustice on the stage, off the stage, in the theatre field, and beyond.
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Elijah McClain, and Maurice Gordon are part of a long and shameful history of racist violence in this country. These recent and high-profile deaths were preceded by centuries of state-sanctioned murders of black men, women, and children, many of whose names we may never know. These most recent tragedies come at a time when COVID-19 has laid bare painful inequities for people of color, particularly for the black community. The pandemic has also ravaged the economy, amplifying inequities even further. We stand with communities of color in New Jersey and across the nation in grief, anger, pain, and commitment to anti-racist action.
Theatre is predicated on imagination, empathy, and collaboration. It is our responsibility as theatre makers to work together to actively dismantle white supremacist systems, structures, and narratives as we work to build a better world in which everyone’s full humanity is seen, respected, celebrated, and honored.
We acknowledge that social media and email communications are not a perfect vehicle to express the complexity of the current moment and the history layered within it. We also acknowledge that organizational statements of solidarity are galvanizing to some and ring hollow to others. That said, we feel called to add our voice to the groundswell and state, unequivocally and publicly, our support for the movement for black lives and commitment to anti-racist action. Access and inclusion are core values of the Alliance and we are committed to expanding and deepening our work to specifically address racial equity and justice.
We acknowledge that professional theatre in the United States exists within a system built on white supremacy, and often replicates that system of power and privilege. Expressions of support are meaningless without action. To that end, we are laying out the following commitments, and hope that our membership and community will hold us accountable to them.
- We commit to naming and changing oppressive and exclusive dynamics in our own 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 continuing our partnership with Equity Quotient, a leading EDI consultant in the arts, for both internal organizational change and field-wide education and change. Our work with Equity Quotient is central to our education, but not the only step we're taking in seeking the guidance of experts in this anti-racism work. We will learn from and disseminate to our members any and all valuable opportunities and resources we find.
- We commit to increasing our existing budget line for EDI staff and board training as well as our budget to support programs and services that specifically support artists and arts administrators of color.
- We commit to completing our initial internal assessment and revision of written policies and procedures by fall of 2020. We also commit to centering anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion in our upcoming 3-year strategic plan.
- We commit to prioritizing the creation of an institutional equity and anti-racism statement and resources on our website, and to using our social media platforms to actively engage in anti-racist communications. UPDATE: Our organizational statement can now be viewed here.
- We commit to re-examining our membership criteria and categories to be more inclusive of theatres operating in alternative models, and to specifically seek out theatres led by people of color to discuss how membership with the Alliance could serve them.
Calls to Action
We encourage you and/or your organization to DONATE to an organization making a difference in combating racism.
- The Alliance has made a donation this week to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, a Newark-based non-profit focused on three pillars: economic justice, criminal justice reform, and democracy and justice. We chose this organization because they have a 20-year history of working for social and racial justice in our state. We hope that this donation is the beginning of a longer relationship with this organization.
- The Alliance has also made a donation to The Bail Project, a national organization working to end mass incarceration and provide bail relief across the United States. We chose this organization because protesters in all 50 states are in need of bail support, and because the threat of COVID-19 is particularly severe in jails, where many people are being held without charges or for very minor infractions.
We invite all member theatre staff to ATTEND our virtual annual meeting on June 18, which will focus on EDI and anti-racism. Staff members who have been recently furloughed or laid off due to COVID-19 are also encouraged to join us.
We encourage you to CONTACT your local representatives to express support for “8 Can't Wait,” a campaign from Project Zero to universally institute eight policies proven by data-driven research to reduce police violence.
In addition to calling for immediate reforms, we urge you to LEARN more about calls for large scale changes to rethink public safety and shift resources from police forces to mental health and social services. Some introductory information can be found here, here, and here.
We encourage you to FOLLOW these organizations and anti-racist thought leaders on social media. This is by no means an exhaustive list; please let us know who else we should be following:
- Organizations: Movement for Black Lives (FB, Insta, Twitter), Showing Up for Racial Justice, Color of Change, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, African American Policy Forum, My Brother’s Keeper
- Individuals: Charles Blow, Jamelle Bouie, Rachel Cargle, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glennon Doyle, Eve Ewing, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Van Jones, Ibram X Kendi, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Matt McGorry, Ijeoma Oluo, Brittany Packnett, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
We hope you will RESEARCH the many additional action steps and resources available online, including this consistently updated google doc: Resources for Anti-Racist Action
We Stand Together.
The New Jersey Theatre Alliance Staff and EDI Committee
This Statement of Solidarity, Commitment, and Action was created by the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee of New Jersey Theatre Alliance, which includes staff, trustees, and representatives of member theatres.
Marshall Jones, III, Trustee and Associate Professor at Rutgers University
Mindy Richardson, Trustee and General Manager at McCarter Theatre Center
Neha Bhalani, Trustee and Counsel fo Chiesa, Shahinan & Giantomasi PC
Laura Ekstrand, Trustee and Artistic Director of Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre
Alma Malabanan-McGrath, General Manager, Two River Theater
Damion Parran, Managing Director, Passage Theatre
Kayla Votapek, Rutgers University
Jessica Gaines, New Jersey Theatre Alliance
Deonté Griffin-Quick, New Jersey Theatre Alliance
Lauren Mancuso, New Jersey Theatre Alliance
John McEwen, New Jersey Theatre Alliance
Erica Nagel, New Jersey Theatre Alliance