As the storyteller for our community, Aurora Theatre Company inspires new audiences and longtime theatre lovers alike with the visceral power of live theatre. Our venues, the most intimate professional stages in the Bay Area, highlight great acting, nuanced language, and an immediacy that makes for exhilarating theatre. By telling profoundly relevant stories, we’re building a new culture of theatregoing in the Bay Area and contributing to a revitalization of theatre nationwide, challenging all of us to think deeper, laugh louder, and engage more purposefully and profoundly with our neighbors and our world.
- We commit ourselves to championing racial justice, to better embodying anti-racist practices, and to confronting and dismantling oppression (including but not limited to racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance) in everything we do.
- We recognize that Aurora Theatre Company is located on land that was stolen from the Chochenyo Ohlone people. Our community has benefited from this land, and we owe the Ohlone people a collective debt.
- We earn our reputation for integrity by treating people fairly, paying equal rates, and being honest and transparent in our dealings.
- We value Bay Area theatre artists for their excellence, for their engagement, and for the local authenticity, they bring to our productions.
- We value the great plays of the past for the way their lessons resonate with today’s issues, and new plays for the way they move today’s conversations forward.
THEATRE FOR EVERYONE
At Aurora, we believe that theatre belongs to everyone. We ask that our staff, our artists, and our audience work together to make all people feel welcome here.
Here's how you can help us make everyone feel welcome:
- Be respectful of others.
- Avoid making assumptions about people based on age, race, gender, religion, disability, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, or any other status or characteristic.
- Remember that making comments or asking questions about the factors listed above -- even with good intentions -- can have a harmful impact. This is especially true about factors that have been connected with marginalization.
- Avoid giving any kind of uninvited or unwanted physical contact or sexual attention, including sexual comments, jokes, and innuendos.
- Be an ally. If you witness behavior that appears to be making someone feel unwelcome, say something. Let us know what's going on.
- Please let us know if you feel marginalized in any way. We take all such issues seriously and will do our best to address such concerns in a timely, respectful, and conscientious manner.
- We have all kinds of people on our stage, behind the scenes, on our staff, and in our audience, and Aurora belongs to all of us.
Thank you for being a part of the Aurora Family!
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