This summer, The Rose issued public anti-racism commitments to the community. The actions identified at that time were in addition to action items already in our current strategic plan. (Read more about this commitment here.) The big question we were trying to answer was how we could become more ambitious in our efforts.
We believe it is an important part of our accountability to share updates on progress towards those goals, and to name some additional actions being taken. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the work each department is doing.
Board recruitment and staff hiring processes have been amended, and are evolving. The board’s Production and Education Committee (the one that oversees the work of our Artistic Director and consequently that of our production and education programs) is currently 30% BIPOC. We expect that to continue to grow.
Training all staff and board on anti-racism and bias: We completed an all-staff training with Dr. Ferial Pearson this fall, and the same training was done with the full board. That means staff and board share the same language about microaggressions and microresistances. Several members of management participated in a TYA hosted series of weekly anti-racism trainings this past fall. The Rose’s board chair, Managing Director and Artistic Director are participating in a TYA anti-racism training specifically for theater leadership. That is being held this spring semester, and we have met twice.
Creation of Accountability and Learning groups: Recognizing that department heads needed to commit to ongoing anti-racism learning and accountability, this group of leaders has had a monthly meeting dedicated to this purpose since last summer. In addition, staff listening sessions were held with Dr. Ferial Pearson this fall. Every staff member was required to do at least one session but could participate in as many identity groups as they wished. Department heads are identifying themes from those to guide next steps.
Heed Recommendations of Staff IDEA Committee: Led by Rose staff members, The Rose’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee has convened. This committee has been working on several important initiatives, including the development of a racism incident report.
Policy and Procedure Review: This is a work in progress. The IDEA Committee will scan the Employee Handbook for signs of institutional or structural racism that can be excised. We have updated the Guest Director Handbook through this lens and through a legal one as well.
Require regular vendors to have anti-racism policies: We are in the beginning stages of evaluating our vendor policies. The Artistic Director and Managing Director are in the process of creating an anti-racism ethos statement as The Rose so we have an example to share with vendors as we move forward with this expectation of them.
Centering more global majority artists in our work: As we move through the season planning process for the next one to three years, scripts being considered have a majority global majority or BIPOC protagonists (66%). BIPOC generative artists/directors represent approximately 30% of the projects, a number lower than we would like due to a few projects having been delayed from this current season or our prior season. We do not know casting data on Descendants right now. 50% of our current active commissions are written by BIPOC or global majority artists, and if we include two “TBA” projects currently in negotiation, that number will jump to 66% as well in the coming months.
More inclusive season planning process: Regular, open-to-all meetings about the season were held this year. Staff in attendance reported seeing their input reflected in the selections made. Regular literary management meetings have included a rotating third staff member since September. The aforementioned board committee has also weighed in on the season, as has long been the practice.
Revising audition process through an equity lens: Common practice on musical auditions will now include the opportunity to receive a karaoke-style track to sing to as part of the audition, removing the need for private accompaniment sessions. Before the pandemic, we were moving forward with audition workshops off-site and off-site auditions. This practice will resume when in-person auditions resume. We are looking at other opportunities to improve audition processes as well.
Curriculum revision: Source texts were updated this fall. As an example, our creative movement workshops now focus on Snowy Day.
Additional work in progress:
- Land acknowledgement language has been developed by a team of educators, reviewed by department heads, and will be shared along with a working list of follow-up actions and resources we can share with our community.
- The literary management team has developed a new play development opportunity aimed at BIPOC or global majority artists. More information about this will become available as the project details are finalized.
- A racism incident report process is being developed. We have a form and are finalizing details about how to handle harm repair conversations, and also to find a board member who can be the report if management engages in race-based harm.
- We are committing to having 1-2 plays in development at any given time, generated by a Native artist. We expect to start work on the first such commission by this spring as part of our budgeting process.
- A staff team is beginning to generate a proposal for how subsidized/free theater-provided transportation might function. We plan on presenting this to funders.
- A staff team is beginning to generate plans for scholarship distribution that includes competition and travel fees related to competitive troupes like Rose Brigade and The Dance Lab at The Rose.
- We have plans to develop an onboarding anti-racism training process for new hires and board members.
This is not an exhaustive list of plans by any means, but simply a highlight of the work we are doing to make The Rose a more anti-racist place.
We have made the pledge. Hold us accountable. #BIPOCinTYA