Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access

Friday, January 8, 2021
 

Domestic Terrorism on Capitol Hill

As a not-for-profit organization, we are required to abstain from speaking in favor of any party or candidate. What we can do is speak up in support of democratic values. We believe the actions of domestic terrorism that disrupted the constitutional process in the Capitol and the peaceful transfer of power are disgraceful and anti-American, including the Confederate flag that was marched through the Capitol. They must be condemned by every elected official, regardless of party affiliation.

The deeply disturbing events of January 6th are a stark reminder that we cannot take our democracy for granted. Our promise at Signature Theatre is to uplift and uphold democratic values through amplifying important and underrepresented voices in the American theatre, offering democratic access to our work and through community building at our home. 


Thursday, December 17, 2020
 

Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access

As we come to the close of 2020, we reflect on this arduous year. Artists and the entire theatre community have been hit hard. In addition to Covid-19, the U.S. has felt turmoil spurred by the brutal murder of George Floyd. In May, we joined our peers in affirming that Black Lives Matter.

Our staff’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access (EDIA) Committee has been working internally for two years, and this reckoning has been a focus for all of us at Signature these past several months. Today, we’d like to share with you our statement of commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access. As we move forward, recommitting ourselves to the tenets of equity, diversity, inclusion and access, we are taking steps to become an anti-racist institution.

Read Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access on our About Us page under our mission statement.

Our EDIA statement must be accompanied by action. As we share these initial steps, we also commit to delivering a more comprehensive list by the end of February 2021, so that you may join in holding Signature Theatre accountable.

  • Our Board formed a dedicated EDIA committee to join our existing Staff EDIA Committee. Together, they are working to develop an EDIA action plan.
  • We have created identity-based affinity and learning groups for folks to come together in a supportive environment.
  • We are creating a new senior leadership position, a Director of Human Resources with an EDIA focus, and we are working to provide ongoing EDIA and anti-racism training for all levels of staff.
  • We have formed a group dedicated to anti-racist, anti-discriminatory interactions with audiences, to empower our staff to create an inclusive space for all people.
  • We pored over the We See You, White American Theatre demands and have been discussing how to address them with our Board, department heads, and full staff.


The preliminary work that has been done, and the work we are planning, is not incidental or fleeting. It’s crucial. Theatre will not survive if it does not evolve. An outdated, exclusive theatre is not something we want to hold on to. Our theatre is not perfect, and we do not aim for perfection. But we are committed to making ongoing progress towards equality, compassion, inclusion and access.

We’d like to thank community leaders, our artists, staff, and audiences who continue to call us to action. We look forward to sharing more updates in the coming months.

All the best,
Donna Walker-Kuhne, Board Trustee and Chair of Board EDIA Committee
Nina Matis, Board President
Paige Evans, Artistic Director
Harold Wolpert, Executive Director


Thursday, August 27, 2020
 

We See You, White American Theater

On July 27, Signature Artistic Director Paige Evans was contacted by We See You, White American Theater (We See You WAT), and this email was sent in response. We thank We See You WAT for their labor in holding us accountable during this time of much needed reckoning. We have started to evaluate our various structures and are working with our board, staff, artists, and community on how to address and implement these necessary changes.

“We at Signature Theatre acknowledge the receipt of the email from We See You, White American Theater. We have shared the demands with our senior team, who have been reviewing and discussing them, as well as with our resident playwrights, full-time staff, and board for discussion. We are building a timeline to implement the anti-racism goals outlined in our solidarity statement. As we undertake the essential work to build a more just, equitable and anti-racist company, we are considering a range of views and will engage with a variety of people to develop a plan tailored for Signature. We will report a fuller list of action steps publicly, after we have discussed, gauged what we can afford, and built accountability systems for ourselves. In the meantime, we’ve outlined below our initial action steps.

While we are in discussion regarding our Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) initiatives, these are currently underway:
 

  • ​Signature has an EDIA Staff Committee that has been meeting for three years. We are adding an EDIA Board Committee, chaired by Trustee Donna Walker-Kuhne.
  • We have developed an internal website for staff to access research and share resources regarding anti-racism work. The site also allows staff to track Signature-specific updates and timelines regarding our anti-racism work.
  • We are drafting an EDIA mission statement that prioritizes anti-racism and will be shared publicly.
  • We have established affinity groups for BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and female employees, and we have a space for white staff members to discuss anti-racism practices.
  • We are committed to allocating staff time for anti-racism learning and discussion. Our first step was a full staff EDIA workshop facilitated by Donna Walker-Kuhne.
  • Hiring processes are under review and will be adjusted once we are able to hire again, following the pandemic.
  • We have formed a committee dedicated to anti-racist interactions with audience members and the public.*


Signature is serious in our commitment to anti-racism. This work is difficult and crucial, and it will be ongoing. As conversations continue about dismantling systems of oppression and racism, we welcome further collaboration with a variety of organizations like We See You, WAT, who have done significant work to highlight, call out, and name harmful practices. We are committed to listening and thank them for advancing the conversation to a national platform.

All our Best,
Paige Evans (Artistic Director), Harold Wolpert (Executive Director) and Donna Walker-Kuhne (Board EDIA Committee Chair) Signature Theatre, NYC”

*The forming of the committee was in process when this email was sent, and this detail has been added after our response email was sent to We See You WAT.


Sunday, May 31, 2020
 

Black Lives Matter

We stand alongside everyone seeking justice for Tony McDade, George Floyd, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjohn Reed and too many others in the Black community. Black lives matter. 

We are thinking about how the lives of Black and Brown people have long been affected by systemic oppression. On top of that, Black people have disproportionately suffered during the pandemic, and police brutality rages on. Deep-seated racial bias is causing pain, fear, despair, outrage and frustration for so many people.

Along with our Black artists, staff, friends and community members, we demand that all Black people not only have the most essential rights to live and to breathe, but also full justice and equality. We want to acknowledge here that white supremacy exists in America and in our field. We will strive to become an anti-racist theatre. We will prioritize a tangible dismantling of all systems of oppression throughout our work, no matter how uncomfortable those conversations.

In our commitment to build a more just, equitable and anti-racist company, we will match our words with deeds, in conjunction with and inspired by our artists, colleagues and all those who set an example for us to follow. We will:

  • Uplift Black people and communities of color who are oppressed by white privilege and power by listening, providing support, and taking action. We will center this within our core values and beliefs of access and community building. We must acknowledge that in our country, we live within a framework of power that is not evenly or fairly distributed, and privilege is unequal. We will ask white people to understand white privilege.
  • Acknowledge where we have come up short or have not done enough soon enough and work to hasten our internal work to create an anti-racist company by consulting with community leaders who can help to point out our own unconscious contributions to imbalance and privilege.
  • Make shifts in our processes to listen to the voices of the oppressed and disenfranchised. We must acknowledge that Black people are not obligated to teach us how to care for them, and commit to doing the hard work to learn what support they need.
  • Tell stories about, by, and for people from historically underrepresented communities, to appropriately honor the diversity of experiences that enrich our country.
 

We encourage you to support these causes, memorial funds, funds for direct families:

 

We have compiled a list of resources and organizations that have been shared with us, which is by no means comprehensive. We also encourage you do your own research for resources that would be valuable for your individual journey.

 

*These organizations are worthy of support, but have indicated that due to the outpouring of support recently, they recommend directing donations elsewhere, especially to those which are Black and BIPOC lead, to support the ongoing struggle for liberation, racial justice, and equity.