Anti-racism and Equity

RE-EMERGING with INTENTION

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

As of September 2021 • Reviewed and Updated Quarterly

Hartford Stage is in the midst of a vital transformation emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic and the national racial reckoning of the ingrained systemic racism within our institutions.  We acknowledge our history as a predominantly white and white-led institution in a city with a population that is majority Black, Brown and Latinx. Beginning in the summer of 2020, our staff and board have been working toward policies and structures that build greater equity and belonging at the theatre, seeking guidance from a variety of partners that have a depth of experience in anti-racism.

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 long-term sustainable structural shifts and ingrained biases within our 50+ year-old institution and industry, and the short- and long-term actions needed to practice anti-racism. We are committed to sharing our progress to create transparency and maintain accountability to ourselves and our community.

Some of the specific actions below are aspirational and some are within our grasp immediately. 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 welcome 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.

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 stories that are diverse and have writers and directors of diverse backgrounds
  • Commitment to the seasons’ creative teams being at least 50% BIPOC artists
  • Include two Spanish language events in the 21-22 season
  • With support from the Roberts Foundation & Joyce Willis, engaging a Black Artist for a two year residency (2022-2024)
  • Continuance of a Book Club featuring BIPOC authors in collaboration with the Hartford Public Library
  • 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 (June 2021) 

Board

  • Recruitment priority of LGBTQ+, Black, Latinx, Hispanic, and Spanish-speaking board members
  • Creation of Board Latinx advocacy group
  • Opening participation from non-Board members to serve on committees
  • Continuance 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

Education

  • Revised 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
  • 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, individuals across the region through events, meetings, open dialogue, and responsiveness 

Internal Practices

  • Land Acknowledgement included in playbill 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

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

  • Partnership with CEIO (Co-Creating Effective & Inclusive Organizations) in their KALE (Keeping Accountable to Liberation & Equity) program to identify social justice vision and mission statements and action plan (through Fall 2021)
  • Partnership with Thought Partner Solutions Board BEDI Trainings
  • Working with consultants with experience in equity and anti-racism as we re-envision and transform hiring and recruitment practices, including Production on Deck and Grace Figueredo and Matt Luginbuhl

Trainings

  • Commitment for ongoing equity and anti-racism training as part of new employee orientation and throughout year
    • 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)
  • Monthly full staff dialogue/workshops on anti-racism and building equity mindsets and skillsets
  • Working towards a process of formalizing individual 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

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
  • Re-defining hiring procedures, practices, language, and processes, including a shift to committee hiring to help eliminate bias
  • 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 

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
  • Elimination of 10 out of 12s during tech week

As Hartford Stage returns to live in-person performance in October of 2021 and re-builds its staff and audience, 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.