Anti-racism at Aurora Theatre Company
Theatre is a space of shared imagination. A space where stories allow us to relive and reexamine our past, and envision bold new futures. Theatre allows us the opportunity to step outside the boundaries of our own lived experience to gain greater understanding of our shared humanity -- to build compassion, empathy, and solidarity.
CONFRONTING DISMANTLING OPPRESSION: AURORA’S COMMITMENTS AND ACTIONS
Updated February 2021
Here are the steps Aurora has taken and the commitments we make in the service of dismantling the systems that feed racism, anti-Blackness, and other forms of oppression:
IN OUR COMMUNITY
- We will continue our Community Partners program, which builds meaningful two-way relationships with new segments of our community, leading to more authenticity in our work, new audiences in our theatre, and new representation in our Advisory Council and eventually on our board.
- Income from Supernova, our 2020 annual fundraising event, exceeded its goal, and we donated $2500 to the Fund for Black Theatre in the U.S. and $2500 to Black Futures Lab. We plan to continue this commitment by donating a percentage of post-goal income from our 2021 annual fundraising event to community organizations.
IN OUR LOBBY
- Our Commitment to the Community statement, posted in our lobby, our programs, and our website, is intended to encourage a culture free from microaggressions in our lobby and theatre so that everyone feels welcome in our space. We will update this statement for our work in virtual spaces, and rename it to “Theatre for Everyone” to avoid confusion with this list of commitments. Our next update will include specific information on how we are creating a culture free from microaggressions in our virtual spaces.
- We will continue regular anti-bias and anti-oppression training for front-of-house staff, including bystander intervention training.
- We will create clear guidelines for front-of-house staff for responding to microaggressions, racist behavior, and questions about our policies.
- We will continue the conversation begun and act on the discoveries made in Welcome To Our Space?: A Town Hall On Audience Interactions, exploring what theatres can do to discourage microaggressions, including microaggressions among our audience members.
ON OUR STAGE
- We will create an anti-racism policy sheet, to be shared with all artists and production staff and discussed at the first production meeting and first rehearsal. We will update the sexual harassment policy already shared in this manner.
- At least three of the six plays we produce each season will be written by BIPOC playwrights.
- We will continue our commitment that at least three of the six plays we produce each season will be written by women.
- We will continue our commitment that at least three of the six plays we produce each season will be directed by women.
- We will actively seek out plays by transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming playwrights.
- We will continue to commission and develop scripts by BIPOC playwrights.
- We will increase the percentage of BIPOC designers and production staff working on our productions.
- We will continue our longstanding policy of “favored nations” for our artists, paying the same rate to each actor, the same rate to each director, and the same rate to each designer, regardless of union status.
IN OUR ORGANIZATION
- In the 2020/2021 Season, every new board member will increase the board’s racial or ethnic diversity. Additionally, we will work with our community to develop and implement strategies to further diversify our board.
- We have eliminated the minimum financial contribution for board members and will continue to work to diversify the board across socioeconomic lines, making the board more representative of our whole community.
- We will continue regular anti-bias and anti-oppression training for our staff and board.
- We’re replacing the phrase “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” with “Confronting and Dismantling Oppression” throughout our organization.
- We will continue holding monthly Community CDO meetings, with participation from staff, board, leadership, artists, and Advisory Council.
- We have created a Confronting and Dismantling Oppression Task Force composed of staff and board members, including the Artistic and Managing Directors and a member of the Board Executive Committee.
- We will report on and discuss anti-racism and anti-oppression activities as a regular part of our staff and board meetings.
- We will view our strategic planning process through an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens, and will include a section on anti-racism and anti-oppression in our new strategic plan.
- In July 2020, we adopted a new mission and values statement that includes a commitment to anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices.
- We will review and revise our employee handbook and all internal policies through an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens.
- We will review and revise our job posting language and hiring policies through an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens.
- We commit to demonstrating more transparency on how our values are manifested in our work, beginning with making our audit reports easily accessible on our website and continuing with posting our overall annual budget.
- Artistic Director Josh Costello and Managing Director Julie Saltzman Kellner commit to listening without exhibiting defensive behavior when we are called out for failing to embody anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices.
- Josh and Julie commit to not using our fear of getting it wrong as an excuse to stay silent.
- We commit to reviewing and evaluating our progress at least twice each year and sharing the results publicly, holding ourselves accountable to the commitments in this list.
Aurora Commitments Report February 2021
ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT
- BIPOC Demands for White American Theatre | We See You WAT (2020)
“America’s Racial Contract Is Killing Us” by Adam Serwer | Atlantic (May 8, 2020)
- “The Intersectionality Wars” by Jane Coaston | Vox (May 28, 2019)
- Tips for Creating Effective White Caucus Groups developed by Craig Elliott PhD
- ”White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh
- “Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi | Atlantic (May 12, 2020)
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (Seal Press, 2019)
- Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi (Bold Type Books, 2017)
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (New Press, 2010)
- When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors Asha Bandele (St. Martin’s Press, 2018)
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum (Basic Books, 2017)
TO WATCH AND LISTEN
- 1619 (New York Times)
- About Race
- Intersectionality Matters! hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw
- Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
- Pod For The Cause (from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights)
- Pod Save the People (Crooked Media)
- The Combahee River Collective Statement
Movies and TV
- 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
- Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
- Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
- I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
- If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
- Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent
- See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
- Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
- The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
- When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix