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July 17, 2020 Statement from the Executive Committee

Statement from the A.R.T./New York Executive Committee
July 17, 2020

The A.R.T./New York Executive Committee is in dialogue with We Are A.R.T/New York (a group of current and former employees) and is grateful to them for raising their concerns with us and for sharing what they’ve witnessed. The Executive Director of A.R.T./New York has been placed on administrative leave as we retain outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation. We are specifically seeking a team that includes BIPOC-identifying employment attorneys; and/or to involve a BIPOC advocate in all steps of the process.
The Executive Committee and Board of A.R.T./New York fully support any and all efforts to make A.R.T./New York a better and more inclusive, equitable organization. A.R.T/New York is an evolving organization in an evolving world. We recognize the need to look at not only our current behavior but the organizational behavior that has brought us to this point. We are taking all necessary steps to bring that to fruition in an open, transparent, and collaborative manner and we are ready to get to work.

Yes, I Have White Supremacist Tendencies…and I Am Working to Change

As Cohort 4 of Diversifying Our Organizations (DOO) comes to an end, and as we attempt to draft A.R.T./New York’s Diversity Plan, I have been thinking about the challenges I have personally experienced through the program.  

I originally conceived of Diversifying Our Organizations in response to the NYC Cultural Plan, which urged us to diversify our staff and board. In my early conversations with our consultants in this work, the Raben Group’s Alicin Williamson and Whitney Tome explained that before a company can successfully welcome and work with board members of color they need to demonstrate cultural readiness. In other words, we would have to get our own houses in order before we reach out to board members or staff of color. When A.R.T./New York applied for and received a generous 3-year grant from the Scherman Foundation’s Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund, l knew we were undertaking a big challenge. But I had no idea just how much I would learn about myself and my implicit and explicit biases. I participated in Cohort 1 along with a board member, where I enjoyed the cohort learning process. Our final assignment was to develop a Diversity Plan, which we were encouraged to do with our staff and, ideally, a board member. Looking back, I see how incredibly naïve I was to think that the staff would rubber-stamp my draft Plan.

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A.R.T./New York Announces Launch of Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

NEW YORK CITY  The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York) has announced a new comprehensive, theatre-specific sexual harassment prevention training that meets New York City & State requirements for individual employees, freelance artists, and contractors. This inclusive and distinct curriculum addresses the unique conditions of working in theatre and facilitates a shift in the environmental status quo around sexual harassment by going beyond the minimum requirements for legal compliance.

A.R.T/New York is the leading service and advocacy organization for New York City's not-for-profit theatre community. For over 40 years, A.R.T/New York has served 410+ member theatres in managing their companies, which has equipped the organization with a deep understanding of the distinct realities and challenges of working in theatre. Many theatre practitioners create work outside of institutional structures, which presents unique artistic opportunities as well as distinct circumstances; for example, on stage intimacy and the potential for sexually suggestive content makes the entertainment industry unique, and unlike a corporate work environment.

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Introducing Body Autonomy

A.R.T./New York has been closely following the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements while listening to the stories and concerns of our members. We've heard that artists and administrators do not know who to report uncomfortable or unsafe interactions to, and how there is a lack of outside support and knowledge about harassment and abuse. We've seen how the traditional power dynamics of a rehearsal room or audition space can be heavily skewed, leaving many without an outlet to bring forward concerns for fear of losing their jobs, possibly harming their career, or being put in an unsafe position. In a collaborative art form, this is unacceptable.

As A.R.T./New York has shaped plans for addressing these issues in our programming, we worked intentionally to build our programming on the framework of restorative justice, and the theories of body autonomy and affirmative consent. Thanks to generous support from the New York Community Trust, we are excited to launch Body Autonomy: A new program that combats cultures of abuse and empowers actors, artists, and participants with control over their bodies on and off stage. Body Autonomy consists of three components:

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Introducing Access A.R.T./New York

As the fall season starts, we are thrilled to announce a new programming initiative. Access A.R.T./New York provides programs and services to create a more inclusive nonprofit theatre sector that is better equipped to serve artists, audiences, and staff with disabilities.

There are many barriers, like cost and education, that make it difficult for small nonprofit theatres to become fully inclusive spaces and provide accessible spaces and programs to their patrons and artists. We hope to work with you to shift New York towards a more welcoming and accessible place for all artists, staff, and audiences through new and expanded programs, including

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Announcing Diversifying Our Organizations (DOO)

We recently received one of three Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund grants from The Scherman Foundation to support a brand new Board of Directors diversification program. In collaboration with national diversity consultants from The Raben Group and Hewlett Consulting Partners, A.R.T./New York will offer field research, workshops, and networking events to create more inclusive theatre cultures and connect professionals of color with nonprofit theatre boards. 

“Working with Alicin Williamson and Whitney Tome of the Raben Group's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Practice, A.R.T./New York will develop a thoughtful and ambitious strategy for making New York City's nonprofit theatre sector more inclusive through facilitation and training; market research and events with members of affinity groups such as The Hispanic Federation, the Center for Urban Professionals, and the Urban League.”

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