Huntington Theatre Company Anti-Racism Update
August 2020 Public Update
The Huntington Theatre Company remains committed to honoring, hearing, and amplifying the voices of the BIPOC artists and staff who continue to experience systemic racism endemic in our country and in the American theatre. We are complicit in an industry that has perpetuated systemic and overt racism which we ourselves have at times failed to repudiate. We know that we need to acknowledge our failures and move from being part of the problem toward working to become an actively anti-racist organization.
We have a responsibility to ensure that all persons — especially those that identify as members of the BIPOC communities, the LGBTQIA+ communities, and communities with disabilities — believe they are welcome at the Huntington, and that they see through action, policy, practice, and representation that they are valued members of the Huntington Theatre Company community. We commit to doing the hard, uncomfortable, and necessary work to live up to these responsibilities. We commit to examining and reforming the structures that perpetuate these harms, and to doing the work needed to transform the Huntington into an actively anti-racist organization. We commit to establishing anti-racist practices as norms and expectations in our spaces to be honored and observed by all.
This work is long overdue. We know we will make mistakes along the way. It will take time to effectively and permanently uproot systems of injustice. However, this is a permanent commitment. The Huntington is resolute in our pledge to become a just and equitable institution; fear of mistakes will not deter us in this work.
We have begun to take real steps toward these goals and write today to begin an ongoing series of public updates. As of August 2020, here is what we’ve accomplished so far:
- Creation of the HEAR Task Force – the Huntington’s Equity and Anti-Racism Task Force is composed of staff members from all company levels and departments who are committed to guiding the anti-racism work within the company, creating recruitment and retention strategies/policies designed to significantly increase the Huntington’s BIPOC staff, and creating a more welcoming, safe, supportive, and accessible culture for all who work at and attend the Huntington and its venues;
- In addition, the HEAR Task Force is researching and gathering proposals from EDIA consultants to work with staff and board to provide anti-bias and anti-racism training, revise current policies and practices to create a more equitable workplace culture for all staff members, create goals with internal and external accountability, and develop internal training protocols to sustain EDIA efforts in the long term. We plan to have a consultant/organization engaged by November/December, 2020;
- In June we elected one new BIPOC member of the Board of Trustees and one new BIPOC member of the Board of Advisors. We have also formally revived and re-purposed a Board EDI Committee which will work to develop strategies and policies designed to significantly increase the number of BIPOC Trustees and Advisors, and which will work in tandem with the HEAR Task Force in support of Huntington artists, audience and staff;
- Individual and institutional engagement in group anti-racist training, including recent participation by staff and board leaders in a 12-hour Summit on Racism that involved executive leadership and board leadership from 50+ U.S. theatre companies and Black Theatre United members, hosted by the Ten Chimneys Foundation. This initiative is ongoing, with the goal of creating a broad set of recommendations for changes in institutional policies and practices that will strengthen anti-racist practices at each theatre and throughout the field;
- Creation of a website dedicated to housing anti-racism articles, book lists, videos, etc. for the entire Huntington Theatre Company to reference;
- Establishment of weekly social hours for staff dedicated to discussing anti-racist articles/resources each week.
We know our work is only just beginning, and we have many other strategies in mind to accomplish our goals. We know that we will need to prioritize our efforts and expect our goals to grow and evolve as we continue this work.
As part of these efforts we will be seeking out the input of our audiences, artists, and staff members, past and present. We also invite you to share feedback as well as relevant stories of your experiences with the Huntington by emailing us at email@example.com. We promise to exercise discretion and keep any stories shared with us confidential.
We believe in the theatre’s power to share the various stories, perspectives, and cultures that are represented in the Greater Boston community. We believe Black Lives, Black Stories, Black Art, and Black Perspectives matter. We believe that the lives and stories of LGBTQIA+ folks should be seen and heard. We believe the lives and stories of people with disabilities have value. We believe everyone deserves to have a seat at our table. And we commit to ensuring these beliefs will be honored and practiced at the Huntington Theatre Company every day.
We will continue to provide updates as this journey continues. Thank you.
Published Tuesday, August 25, 2020