On Equity and Justice
We at Crowded Fire Theater are excited to share a few updates on our response to the WSYWAT and local BIPOC Equity Action Plan demands.
In our last update, we identified a few priorities that we want to report back on, plus a few new priorities that have risen up and initiatives that we’re proud of. All of these have emerged from the work that our Resident Artists, board, and staff have put in to create an extensive, itemized response plan, a living plan with action steps, current status, and dreams.
Prioritized action items now in practice (new from our last update):
- Artist Empowerment
- Centering BIPOC artists with a newly launched Twitch channel, with paid opportunities for artists to talk about their work, their lives, their adorably snoring pets, or whatever they choose to share and explore.
- Anti-racist toolkit, created by a group of CFT’s Resident Artists to empower artists and audience members to question what theaters around the country are doing to implement anti-racist policies and practices — #IAskedMyTheater
- Likeness licensing policy (pilot), giving artists the chance to opt-in and be compensated if their image is used to generally promote Crowded Fire or new programming.
- Increased transparency in the hiring cycle for a cast and creative team, ensuring that artists know who will be in the room with them before they step into that room.
- Amending our board practice
- Now recruiting! Reach out if you are interested in hearing what this looks like; we’re seeking more artists and community partners to be a part of Crowded Fire’s oversight and have broadened and clarified what board support looks like by replacing the financial give/get component with more holistic, personal goals.
- Making it easier to access behind-the-scenes information.
- Salary ranges are now included on our Opportunities page, and a more extensive website redesign is now in the works.
- Code of conduct!
Prioritized action items that need time and much more work on Crowded Fire’s part:
- Creating a safe and anti-racist space, including providing more consideration of the trauma we ask our artists and staff to face.
- We’ve increased anti-racist trainings, and initiated an anti-racist train-the-trainer program with Magic Theatre and Playwrights Foundation.
- We’ve started dreaming about a regional collaboration of theaters providing mental health resources and support for artists engaging with narratives around trauma.
- While we train ourselves, we’re thinking deeply about extending that training to our audience and interrogating the structure of post-show discussions.
- Initiating real connections with local Ohlone tribes, with actions that go beyond a land acknowledgement.
- We’re excited by our work here, but it feels incredibly false to shout out bullet point actions — these are personal relationships that are honestly just starting out.
- New Priority: Feedback
- What are the checks and balances on these plans? We want to strengthen our culture of feedback loops and debriefing and create stronger frameworks that tie together info coming in from multiple areas — surveys, interviews, casual conversations — to make that feedback actionable.
- New Priority: Entry points and Mentorship
- How do we bring people in? How do we offer new opportunities for growth and engagement, for our board members, staff members, Resident Artists, and broader community? How do we plan for Crowded Fire’s next phase of leadership?
These priorities are only the start, because what we are seeking is a full transformation of the process of how we, as theater artists, make work. We’re talking about every expectation that we have: how we schedule, how mental health is prioritized, how we address and pre-plan for access and tech needs.
We’re encouraged by our plan’s focus on care and safety — in every sense of those words — and by the depth of work we’ve already put behind it—from community roundtables and listening spaces, trainings for our staff and stakeholders, to weekly meetings to discuss and plan direct response to the actions requested by colleagues and community members.
We’re reminded that this is a collective movement and a collective effort. Our artists do not work at just our small theater, and so we cannot work towards the liberation of our artists and communities without those efforts reaching beyond our doors. Many of our plans will be impossible without partnership with other organizations.
Crowded Fire refreshes our 5-year strategic plan this year, and equity and justice will be at the heart of that plan. We’re so thankful for the guidance from all of the BIPOC artists and theatermakers who have worked to hold our field accountable. Taken all together, these are big, lofty goals — but they are exactly what is needed in our field. Our response here is just a start: small steps on a long journey, small steps that keep the overwhelm at bay and keep us moving forward.
(We’re also sharing just these priorities because sometimes full transparency is actually less transparent, because who wants to read 10 pages of itemized responses and action plans… Of course, if you are like those of us writing this update and you’re shouting “I WANT TO READ THAT!!” here you go!)
Thank you for working alongside us on this journey.
View past updates:
August 3, 2020