Anti-racism and Equity

RE-EMERGING with INTENTION

On-going Equity & Anti-Racism Commitments, Practices & Actions

As of January 15, 2022
(Reviewed quarterly by members of the Senior Team)

Hartford Stage re-opened to live, in-person performances in October of 2021 alongside the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and amidst the continued transformation of our organization and industry in response to the national racial reckoning of the ingrained systemic racism within our institutions.  

We continue to acknowledge our history as a predominantly white and white-led institution in a city with a population that is majority Black, Brown and Latina/o/x and work toward policies and structures that build greater equity and belonging at the theatre. The leadership team, staff, and board of Hartford Stage are committed to the ongoing practice of anti-racism and social justice to create a more welcoming, inclusive, diverse, and equitable organization for all.  

We recognize the ingrained biases within our 58-year-old institution (and industry), and the short- and long-term actions needed to practice anti-racism and to achieve sustainable structural shifts. We are committed to transparently sharing our progress and maintaining accountability to ourselves and our community. Some of our progress over the past several months includes a revamped hiring process that democratizes input and feedback in efforts to eliminate bias, a financial line item focused solely on supporting EDI trainings and practices, a continued commitment to hiring diverse creative teams and artists, and regular gatherings with staff members for continued dialogue and skill set building.  

We aspire to a culture of constant reflection, commitment and re-commitment, practice, and continued growth, which we know will include mistakes, failures, and continued learning. We believe in and welcome democracy through conversation. This progress is a living and working compilation of activity, with contributions from our leadership team, staff, and board. This is not intended to be a checklist, but a way to keep the work transparent. 

As we enter a new era for the organization and for the industry at large, we continue to envision into what it takes to create a sustainable, relevant, equitable, responsible, and welcoming regional theatre that speaks to and represents the vast diversity of our city and region. 

CREATING A CULTURE OF BELONGING & INCLUSION

We strive to create a place where all people feel a sense of belonging across the organization. We strive to create a culture where everyone sees themselves, their styles, their culture, and their humanity reflected and appreciated in all the work we do. 

The following goals work towards a culture of belonging and inclusion:

Engaging more historically excluded artists, with a heightened focus on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists and community members  

  • A recommitment to producing a season of plays that tell diverse stories sand have writers and directors of diverse backgrounds 
  • Commitment to the seasons’ creative teams being at least 50% BIPOC artists 
  • With support from the Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation & Joyce Willis, engaging a Black Artist for a two-year residency (2022-2024) 
  • Two Spanish language events in the 21-22 season 
  • Continuance and launch of Radio Plays Project in collaboration with CT Public featuring BIPOC stories rooted in local history 
  • New Play Festival focused on writers with Latinx and Hispanic roots (completed, June 2021) 

Board

  • Recruitment priority of LGBTQ+, Black, Latina/o/x and/or Hispanic, and Spanish-speaking board members 
  • Creation of Board “Latinidades” Advocacy Group 
  • Opening participation from non-Board members to serve on committees  
  • Continuation of Stage One Young Professional Board program that invites early career professionals into the Board room 
  • Anti-racism & Equity on agenda for all full board meetings 
  • Representative participating in the National Board Training with artEquity 

Education

  • Revising Education curricula with anti-racist lens; updating text selections to ensure representation of diverse stories and storytellers 
  • Expanding performances open to Capital Community College students 
  • Hiring, Building and strengthening relationships with local teaching artists 

Local Engagement

  • Host gatherings designed to build relationships and networking opportunities for local artists 
  • Continued relationship building with local BIPOC communities, organizations and individuals across the region through events, meetings, and open dialogue 
  • Continuation of partnership with Hartford Public Library providing free tickets to productions via library branches 

Internal Practices

  • Land Acknowledgement included in playbill, on website, and spoken at top of rehearsal process & select meetings & events 
  • Use of pronouns in email signatures  
  • Spanish language materials & captioning for events when possible 
  • Increased marketing and advertising spend with local Spanish-language media  
  • Identifying, disrupting, and directly addressing coded and uncoded racist language, conversations, and practices that arise at the organization and in our spaces.  

CONTINUED LEARNING & SKILLSET BUILDING

We strive to equip our staff, volunteers, and board with continued learning to strengthen and deepen their personal and collective understanding of the inequity and injustices within and outside of our organization. We strive to offer opportunities that help build skillsets that bring greater consciousness into every aspect of the organization, ultimately leading to greater equity. 

The following goals work towards our continued learning and skillset building:

Partnerships

  • We continue to seek leadership, guidance, support, and wisdom from internal and external partners, tools, and resources and have built relationships with the following organizations: 
    • CEIO (Co-Creating Effective & Inclusive Organizations)  
    • KALE (Keeping Accountable to Liberation & Equity) program completed December of 2021 with staff leadership 
    • Thought Partner Solutions 
    • Production on Deck 
    • Grace Figueredo and Matt Luginbuhl 
    • Hollaback! 

Trainings

  • Commitment to prioritizing and making accessible ongoing equity and anti-racism training as part of employee and volunteer professional development 
    • artEquity Everyday Justice Training available to staff annually
    • Continued annual Sexual Harassment Prevention Training with Jackson Lewis
    • Suggested personal review of Implicit Bias through Harvard’s Project Implicit Bias Tests (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html)
    • Additional trainings and resources offered as available

Practices

  • Dedicated budget line item for equity & anti-racism training 
  • Weekly senior team dialogue and workshops on anti-racism (how it affects the organization, new practices, learnings, resources, activities) 
  • Bi-Monthly full staff dialogue/workshops on anti-racism and building equity mindsets and skillsets 
  • Working towards a process of formalizing individual equity and anti-racism professional development plans for staff  
  • Creating an internal culture of regular sharing of articles, books, recordings, podcasts, etc focused on inclusion, equity and anti-racism, and a central location for housing resources 
  • Building support networks amongst ourselves and other arts and local organizations to support anti-racist practices and dialogues strengthening the work
     

EQUITABLE & SUSTAINABLE OPERATIONS & PRACTICES

We strive to build an organization that recognizes the humanity of every member of our staff, board, volunteer, audience, and community and the needs and necessities to live and thrive in the 21st century.  

Staff

  • $15 minimum wage across the organization
  • Developing more expansive networking and outreach for open positions 
  • Continued commitment to recruiting diverse candidate pools and candidates with strong equity and anti-racism skills 
  • Re-defined hiring procedures, practices, language, and processes, including a shift to committee hiring to help eliminate bias (major shift completed in Fall of 2021; refinement and adjustment ongoing) 

Artists

  • Commitment to not relying on volunteer services of artists for activity outside original scope of work
  • Compensating freelance teaching artists for prep and planning time

Operations

  • Relationship building and commitment to using local BIPOC vendors 
  • Budget transparency and explicit discussion of equity within the budget  
  • Mileage reimbursement at the standard IRS rate 
  • Re-envisioning apprentice and intern programs to build more equitable opportunities for early career professionals 
    • Commitment to paying all individual interns for their work at the organization 
  • Create a more equitable and sustainable schedule and be in consistent dialogue with staff around time needs of each production, including the elimination of 10 out of 12s during tech week as standard.  

We are committed to anti-racist practice and a spirit of transparency and responsiveness. If you have any questions, please reach out to artistic@hartfordstage.org