Equity & Anti-Racism Progress Report – Fall 2021

Equity & Anti-Racism Progress Report – Fall 2021

November 8, 2021

As we kick off our 31st season, we would like to share our first progress report on our equity and anti-racism work. This past February, we published the SpeakEasy Equity & Anti-Racism Action Plan (SEARAP), the culmination of months of vital and detailed work to examine our own inequitable practices and complicity in systemic racism and systems of oppression that are based on race, ethnicity, gender, economic status, and ability. This specific and detailed action plan is a living document that will evolve as our learning continues and as the environment around us continues to change.

In an effort to hold ourselves accountable, and to be transparent with our progress, we want to share what we have accomplished so far. All “immediate changes” and “short term initiatives” defined in the plan have been completed or their implementation is currently in progress. A summary of this progress is outlined below.

ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

  • To continue the professional and personal development of our staff, and to ensure that these conversations are at the forefront of our planning, we have implemented bi-weekly discussions and trainings centering Equity & Anti-Racism. These have primarily been attended by our staff, with select trainings including our Board of Directors as well.
  • Every member of our staff and the majority of our Board of Directors have completed official Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Access training led by Angela Park Consulting, as well as the Cultural Equity Learning Community series through Arts Connect International.
  • We share our Land Acknowledgement and Equity & Anti-Racism Action Plan at every first rehearsal and first board meeting of the season. These resources, as well as additional ways to engage and educate, are also made available on our website, in our playbills, and displayed at our theater space.
  • We have officially recognized Juneteenth, Indigenous Peoples Day, and Election Day as holidays and will close our office on those days in observation.

HIRING & EMPLOYMENT

  • We have updated our hiring practices to include salary ranges and experience requirements for all jobs, and have expanded the job search timeline so as to reach as many candidates from a diverse range of communities as possible.
  • To prioritize the health of our artists, we are hiring understudies for all performances.
  • We have increased compensation for our artists to offer a more competitive wage.
  • At the first rehearsal, everyone receives Anti-Harassment training, as well as information about SpeakEasy’s community expectations and Equity & Anti-Racism protocols.  
  • We now share our demographic survey with everyone who works with SpeakEasy, as well as everyone who applies or auditions for us, so that we can better track the communities we are reaching and those with whom we are working.

PROGRAMMING & VALUES

  • We continue to select works that address a wide range of relevant and timely topics, including systemic racism, equity and justice, and identity. We produce and invest in stories that challenge the narrow and unexamined scope of narratives about the BIPOC experience – focusing on joy, innovation, and expression, as well as overcoming hardship and oppression. And we hire artists and storytellers that can authentically share these narratives on- and off-stage.
  • We have updated our Company Values and our brand to officially include a commitment to social justice and inclusion.
  • To pay respect to the Massachusett tribe, whose unceded land we work and reside, we have created a Land Acknowledgement plan and resource page on our website, and we share this information both internally with staff, board, and artists, and externally with patrons at the theater and in our playbills.

ACCESSIBILITY

  • Starting in January 2022, we will offer both Open Captioning and Audio Description resources for select performances of all productions moving forward.
  • We will offer a Sensory Friendly Performance for our Spring 2022 production of Once on This Island, and have identified a partner who will help us to continue this programming for at least one production each season.
  • We offer discounted ticket rates through the Huntington Community Membership Initiative and the EBT Card to Culture program in the hopes of making our work accessible to individuals at all income levels. We also have added a veteran ticket rate.

Our efforts to become a fully equitable and anti-racist theatre company is ongoing and is essential to the identity of our organization. Internally, we revisit the progress on our plan quarterly, and will continue to update the document as our priorities and action items develop.

As we continue to track our progress, we welcome your feedback, comments, and questions.  We hope you’ll be part of this progress, and we invite you to reach out to us with any thoughts or questions by emailing Community Programs Manager Alex Lonati at alexlonati@speakeasystage.com.

The entire SpeakEasy team thanks you for your support and participation in this essential work.

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