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Anti-Racism Public Update

READ THE HUNTINGTON EQUITY AND ANTI-RACISM TASK FORCE FAQ

November 2020 Update:

Center Stage: The Direction of Anti-Racism, Equity, and Culture Initiatives at the Huntington Theatre Company

We are writing to provide you with an update on the Huntington’s commitment to respond to the impact of systemic racism, inequity, and challenges related to our organizational culture. After listening to those of you who have taken the time to offer us feedback and share your personal testimony, we feel that an important initial step toward that commitment is to focus on fostering a more equitable, welcoming, safe, supportive, and accessible culture for all who work here. We are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to reconcile injustice wherever it manifests in our community.

We are making a clear and abiding commitment to cultivate a company culture that prioritizes racial justice, inclusion, and belonging. We are committed to earning the trust of our staff, patrons, and partners. Our goal now is to build a community where trust is the currency on which we build our future prosperity and where we understand and honor anti-racism and equity as prerequisites for the existence of that trust.

We are writing to you as the Huntington Equity and Anti-Racism Task Force (HEAR), a representative collective of colleagues working within different company departments who are committed to supporting and guiding anti-racism work within the Huntington Theatre Company. Michael Maso, Managing Director, has served as a collaborative partner to our work. Since June, we have been meeting weekly and continuously discussing the Huntington’s policies and business practices through an equity lens, soliciting feedback and listening to personal testimony, making sure that the voices of BIPOC staff and artists are heard, and identifying priorities for becoming a more inclusive, anti-racist organization. We will continue to do so. 

To support and guide the Huntington in our anti-racism and inclusion work over the coming year, HEAR has conducted and concluded a series of robust interviews with EDIA (equity, diversity, inclusion, and access) consulting firms. These interviews required firms to present a sample workshop, describe their approach to EDIA consulting, and answer questions generated by different Huntington teams and departments. We are excited to announce that we have concluded this interview process and selected The Wellspring Group to be our partner in this initiative.

The Wellspring Group, led by Kadesh Simms Conroy and Chris Conroy, is a human resources and training organization known for delivering transformative racial equity and organizational development consulting. Their mission is to help organizations take tangible steps toward equity and racial justice, strengthen their organizational culture and structure, and improve a sense of belonging within their community. Based in Massachusetts, Wellspring has served arts and culture, human services, and social impact organizations globally. In partnership with the HEAR Task Force, they will lead a year-long project at the Huntington to evaluate our business practices, provide training and support for our staff, and implement institution-wide racial and organizational equity reforms. (thinkwellspring.com)

Wellspring approaches their work as racial justice advocates and facilitators, primarily through a process they refer to as a Racial Equity Journey. They launch this process by developing a detailed understanding of the culture and structure of an organization. Once a preliminary understanding of the organization is developed, Wellspring then partners with entire the community, teams, and individuals to confront and deconstruct racism in four interconnected forms – ideological, interpersonal, institutional, and internalized. Ultimately, their goal is to redevelop equitable organizations which can consistently live their public commitments to racial justice in practice by enforcing equitable policies, adopting democratic forms of social organization, and ensuring their employees and institutional partners demonstrate competency on issues related to racialization and identity development.

HEAR has begun meeting with Wellspring for preliminary discussions on planning and scheduling. We expect their work with the Huntington to begin in November. Prior to that start date, HEAR and Wellspring will release a joint public project plan which will include a schedule and an overview of:

  • Ongoing methods Wellspring is using to gather the Huntington community’s feedback and input.

  • Upcoming racial equity related activities, such as workshops, coaching, and training.

  • Wellspring’s online learning portal, which will serve as an accessible common area and knowledge-base for racial justice and organizational development initiatives within the Huntington community now and into the future.

  • Support for human resources for strategic improvements in our organizational structure and talent management.

These resources will be accessible to employee groups, including full-time, part-time, and furloughed employees, as well as our contractors and Board members. We plan to engage our community partners in this work as well, because your voices are critical to shaping our culture.

In addition to the Huntington’s partnership with The Wellspring Group, we will also continue to create space for conversations with staff members to ensure your voices are heard. Toward that end:

  • We will release a Communications Commitment to publicly ensure the integrity and transparency of all feedback and work that we are doing together.

  • Our Board of Trustees and Managing Director, Michael Maso, will create an HR committee to support Director of Human Resources and the Chair of HEAR, Diane Daniels, ensuring that lines of communication are open between the staff and the board.

  • Our board has also committed to reinvigorating its EDIA committee, led by committee chair Neal Balkowitsch.

Ultimately, our true commitment to anti-racism and equity as a theatre company will be tested by our willingness to disrupt the racial bias and barriers pervasive in our own institutional culture. We can only achieve this if the stories of staff, artists, audiences, and the members of our extended community can take center stage, especially those who have too often had their voices marginalized from our collective consciousness. We intend to create and hold the spaces necessary for those stories to be told.

We know that we have a lot of work to do to become a more inclusive, anti-racist, and equitable company and to build back the trust of our community. We are confident that, with all of us together, the Huntington will initiate the necessary change and transform our institution into one that honors and respects the stories and lives of everyone.

Thank you for the work you do and for your willingness to take part in this important work. As always, please reach out to us at hear@huntingtontheatre.org if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

The HEAR Task Force

Jazzmin Bonner, Company Manager
Diane Daniels, Director of Human Resources, Chair
Bethany Ford, Director of Production
Charles Haugland, Director of New Work
DeDe Jacobs-Komisar, Institutional Giving Manager
Katie Most, Calderwood Pavilion Manager
Meg O’Brien, Director of Education
Candelaria Silva-Collins, Community Membership Initiative Coordinator
Regine Vital, Manager of Curriculum & Instruction, Education

In collaboration with:
Michael Maso, Managing Director

Published Thursday, November 5, 2020

 

Read the September 2020 Public Update

 

Read the August 2020 Public Update


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