Berwyn rests on the ancestral homelands of the Bodéwadmiké (Potawatomi), Kaskaskia, Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Myaamia (Miami), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Sioux), and Peoria people, and possibly others, also known as the Council Of The Three Fires. We celebrate the history and heritage of these peoples, as well as all other Indigenous peoples of our nation.
As a PWI supporting change, The 16th Street Theater NFP has begun an educational and actionable anti-racist journey.
We continue to review our policies and operating procedures, identifying areas that we must change in order to produce anti-racist theatre. Our journey’s purpose is to make equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit; and individuals with other gender and sexual identities (LGBTQIA2S+), and people with disabilities an active priority of our theater. The following ideas, goals and policies represent a process of ongoing learning and growth:
Ongoing goals: To increase the participation of a diverse range of actors and staff, and to tell stories of ALL members of our community, with a focus on a wide array of cultures, beliefs and points of view. To work as a group to identify areas of opportunity, and to open avenues of opportunity in an equitable and inclusive way.
EDUCATION, TRAININGS and POLICY CHANGES
- November 2019 Instituted Chicago Theatre Standards (CTS) with a policy that everyone within organization including Board and Staff, must read the entire 33-page document, understand and adhere to CTS at all times. Artists who collaborate with 16th Street are asked to read, understand and adhere to CTS. First rehearsals now include a presentation of CTS and are given Conflict Resolution Path.
- December 2019 Artistic Director and Board Member attended Racial Justice Training with Race Forward
- May 2020 The 16th Street Theater NFP Board of Directors pledges at Board meeting: “If you are not on board with Anti-Racism, you are not on our Board.”
- May 2020 Black Lives Matter statement out as an email, on FB page and featured on web site (see below)
- August 2020 Board, Staff and Associate Artists will begin an ongoing audit of the theater and all its practices with C-ROAR with the goal to work toward becoming an Anti-Racist organization, working to diversify Board and Staff and making 16th Street welcoming and safe for all artists and audiences.
- June 2021 and January 2022: Board and staff attended workshops with RGW Consulting addressing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and strategies for growth and development as an equitable, anti-racist theater.
- January 2022 (and ongoing): Instituted bi-weekly staff ongoing training for EDI practices and procedures.
Training, workshops and policy changes are ongoing and evolving.
Proposed Strategies for becoming a more equitable, diverse and inclusive organization:
- The Artistic Staff and Board Members will commit to attending four anti-racist and/or EDI training sessions per year, with the goal of continued education and sharing of ideas to facilitate growth. Time will be allowed in Board Meetings to share information gained from such training, and to discuss implementation of new ideas and opportunities.
- The Board will actively recruit new members, focusing on BILPOC, people with disabilities and members of other diverse communities, as well as young people, amending Board Member requirements as needed to be inclusive of all.
- Artistic Staff will prioritize creating a season of shows that encourages a diversity of artists, including directors, playwrights, actors, and other participants.
- Every effort will be made to recruit a diverse production team and to provide opportunities for early career and interested artists to mentor with established artists.
- Directors agree to contribute to increased equity, diversity, and inclusion by actively committing to anti-racist, and where appropriate, gender blind casting.
- For auditions, all character descriptions will include any requirements for race or ethnicity, gender, age and physical requirements (combat, on-stage intimacy, nudity, etc). If a role does not include any of these specifications, the description will announce that the role is open to all actors.
- When mistakes are made and harm is done, we are committed to addressing the issue immediately and taking action. We pledge to listen and respond in ways that allow open communication and growth.
- We recognize that this is a fluid and evolving process, and commit to ongoing education.
The preceding statement is from the Board of Directors and the staff of The 16th Street Theater NFP, and expresses the views and plans only of The 16th Street Theater NFP, and no other entity related to or associated with 16th Street Theater.
Black Lives Matter: June 1, 2020
“The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.”
– Lois McMaster Bujold
As a playwrights theatre existing to tell the stories of all in our community, if just one of us is without justice, none of us can have justice. Theatre is dialogue, and we are grateful that you have joined us for provocative conversations over divisive topics. This is not a divisive topic. This is civil rights. Civil rights must exist for all in our community, our state, our country.
Black lives matter.
As Anna Deavere Smith, the writer and performer of FIRES IN THE MIRROR, wrote: “We might not like what we see, but in order to change it, we have to see it clearly.” Systemic racism lives here in our communities, whether we choose to see it or not. We are a part of this broken system. A broken system that continues to brutalize Black members of our community.
Below are just a few resources we have found useful in our ongoing work to see clearly, to work to advance racial equity, to work to dismantle racism. It will take all of us working together to ensure justice and civil rights for all. Here at 16th Street, we have a long way to go. Read Ann Filmer’s Statement here.
We look forward to sharing more dialogue with you, virtually for now, in person as soon as we may gather.
With love and hope for our future together.