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A.R.T./New York is joining the music industry, our sister theatre service organizations including Theatre Communications Group, Theatre Bay Area, and our member theatres, in support of #BlackOutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused. We will be pausing our operations, and I am urging my staff to take this time to heal, reflect, and think about how we can envision A.R.T./New York's own work to fight racism and ensure that New York City's nonprofit theatre community is more just, inclusive, diverse, and accessible to all.

As I promised in my May 31st letter to you, thanks to Robert Raben and our Diversifying Our Organizations (DOO) team at the Raben Group, I have reached out to Black clinicians who have experience as therapists, researchers, and community healers. I have sought their advice and support as we seek to facilitate spaces for A.R.T./New York's staff and, hopefully, our members, where we can unpack trauma and move towards healing. This is complex work and it may take some time to organize, but I am committed to doing this for my staff and for our field.

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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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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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