Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

August 3, 2021

In November of 2020, spurred by the work of We See You White American Theater (WSYWAT), City Theatre released a response of commitments and steps the organization is taking toward creating a more equitable and just company that can fully serve, support, and celebrate BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community members. The response built on work already begun within the company and added a deeper opportunity for public dialogue as part of this necessary transformation.  
 
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) is a core value of City Theatre, as is Community, and we are committed to ensuring those principles inform all our practices. This work is on-going and as an organization, we realize we have far to go; but it is systemic and institutional change to which we are deeply dedicated. The board and staff EDIA committees meet on a regular basis and we will continue to release bi-annual updates detailing the theater’s progress, shortcomings, and future plans.  
 
In the past six months, we have spent time focusing on gaining a true grasp of where the organization is. This has included demographic tracking and working deeply with Diaz Inclusion Consulting to survey artists, staff, board members, and patrons about their understanding of City Theatre’s values, actions, and missteps in regard to EDIA. Both staff and board have attended training sessions on topics including unconscious bias, microaggressions, and more. These conversations have informed the basis for an anti-racism plan outline and goal-setting for how the theater can move forward on the path of dismantling systems of oppression, changing institutional power structures and creating a true culture of belonging. 
 
Below we have listed a summary of actions taken since November as well links to deeper documents outlining the organization’s commitments and practices.  
Actions taken: 

Engaged consultants from Diaz Inclusion for shaping organizational anti-racism and EDIA planning 

Artist, Audience, Board, and Staff Surveys 

Establishment of a succession-planning taskforce 

On-going Staff and board training, including a full-day, facilitated board retreat focusing on EDIA and anti-racism practices 

In partnership with the Mattress Factory and Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theatre has created a cohort of 10 local arts organizations for a year-long anti-racism program with Carmen Morgan and artEquity, Inc.  

Reviewed and revised the organization’s mission statement and core values with an anti-racism lens, which were unanimously adopted by the board of directors 

Reviewing anti-racism plan and City Theatre work with a focus group of BIPOC stakeholders 

Expanded the racial diversity of its governing board of directors 

Researched and revised, in consultation with Three Rivers American Indian Center, an updated land acknowledgment which is shared at the beginning of all public and private events 

Creation off the “City Theatre Community Alliance” to review the theater’s strategic plans and EDIA commitments. 

Next Steps: 

Included with this statement is an executive summary of the company’s Anti-Racism Plan Outline developed in collaboration with Diaz Inclusion Consulting. The plan details goals and objectives for future work and work yet to be done by the company as well as initiatives already in progress. This is a living document and will continue to evolve and change knowing that fight for social justice and the work of organizational change is continual.  

 
Released along with this report: 

Demographic tracking sharing statistics around the company’s hiring practices over the past five years 

The new organizational code of conduct 

An audience invitation 

City Theatre’s land acknowledgment 

 
Financial Reports to be released by the end August after the end of fiscal year reconciliation 
 
A large part of the work of creating an actively anti-racist theater company depends on transparency and accountability. We eagerly invite public comment and feedback on our work. We also want to thank all of the individuals – artists, staff, audience members, and volunteers – who participated in this imperative process.  
If you would like to be involved in shaping this work at the theater or offer feedback on the organization’s goals and commitments, please contact Managing Director James McNeel at jmcneel@citytheatrecompany.org. 

____________________________________

City Theatre’s Response to

We See You White American Theater

November 10, 2020

 

On July 8, 2020, a coalition of hundreds of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) theater-makers from across the country released a comprehensive set of demands for moving toward a just and equitable American Theater.

The We See You White American Theater (WSYWAT) organizers invited City Theatre to make a public response about which Demands we would address first.
We have welcomed the opportunity to interrogate our organizational culture and practices. Over the last five months, City Theatre staff and board have crafted the following response. We remain immensely grateful to the WSYWAT organizers for their critical contribution to the field. We are confident the demands will prove a catalyst for transformational change for City Theatre and our peers around the country.
This response represents only our first step in what will be an ongoing, transparent process to becoming an anti-racist institution. We are grateful to the many individuals — from both within and without the organization — who shared their views and provided invaluable feedback regarding our response. We remain steadfast in our commitments to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and look forward to the accountability necessary to accomplish this work.
If you have comments or questions, email Managing Director James McNeel at jmcneel@citytheatrecompany.org

READ THE RESPONSE HERE

____________________________________

Statement from City Theatre, May 31, 2020

On Saturday, in Pittsburgh — as in over 75 other cities across the country — people exercised their rights of free assembly to protest the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many other black Americans who have endured immense injustice simply because of the color of their skin. This ability to peacefully gather is enshrined in the same First Amendment that provides artists the opportunity to freely create and self-express. We stand in solidarity with all who are working tirelessly to bring real social change to our country and fight racism wherever it exists.

While we are not so naive nor self-important to believe that the arts can change the world on their own, we are privileged with a platform and a voice that must work to celebrate diverse stories and tell the truths that are often hard and ugly. We are also in the business of empathy and enlightenment; and we have the unique opportunity to provide a lens into lives and experiences that are different from our own. We are committed to serving our community now and in the future with an unwavering dedication to equity, justice, and inclusion. Our hearts break for our artist, staff, and community members of color who continue to face intolerable systemic oppression. We applaud their strength and we share in their fight for a more just world.

And while we are unable right now to throw open our doors to the community due to the ongoing pandemic, City Theatre will again in the future. And when we do, the important work on our stages, inspired by our core values, will amplify those who are insisting on a better America and one where Black Lives Matter.

Many of our staff and artists marched on Saturday or have donated to critical causes leading these efforts and response. They have spoken of their own experiences or supported their colleagues’. We are grateful to the City Theatre family and their role in our Pittsburgh community. As a predominantly white institution, we must serve as allies for change while also acknowledging our own role in contributing to inequities in our society. We must listen more and recognize our mistakes; and be proactive in combatting hate and discrimination. If you would like to help or to learn more about the movement unfolding across our country due to the recent tragedies, we are sharing the following resources.

Stay safe; stay strong.

—City Theatre, May 31, 2020

Reading:
Anti-Racism Resources for allies

Article from Pittsburgh-based artist TJ Parker-Young

Organization Links:

Black Lives Matter: https://blacklivesmatter.com/
Color of Change: https://colorofchange.org/
NAACP Pittsburgh Branch: https://www.facebook.com/NAACPPGH/
Pittsburgh Mutual Aid: https://www.pittsburghmutualaid.com/
1Hood Media: https://www.1hood.org/
My Brother’s Keeper Pittsburgh: https://pittsburghpa.gov/mayor/mbk/index.html
WWHAT’S UP Pittsburgh: https://www.facebook.com/whatsuppgh/