Letter from Ginny

I give you these very personal words, followed by our Statement of Solidarity and Support. I am deeply grateful to our Director of Programs, Corinne Woods, who has created A.R.T./New York’s Statement of Solidarity.

Letter from Ginny

The violence against Black men, women, and children these past few weeks only illuminates the thousands of incidents that came before them. The dam is bursting, and I cannot help but think about the Black people in our community who are in pain and mourning, and of the white supremacy built into our institutions of power that have created this moment.

Robert Kennedy said, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not.”

As theatre makers, artists, and producers, we have the talent and the resources to support work that sheds a light on the systemic racism that has led us to this moment, as well as the challenges we face in confronting this reality and moving towards a more just and equitable society.

On Thursday, Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing George Floyd’s family, wrote in the Washington Post:

This is a moment for deep reflection and fundamental change. What implicit biases fester to put black Americans at risk? How much do we truly value black lives when we really look at the evidence? And what can we do to correct this course?

It’s a moment for all Americans to take a hard look in the mirror, change themselves and demand change from their institutions. Only then will we be able to breathe again. 

Since working from home, I have taken a hard look at my behavior and practices and how they reflect my values. I have been asking myself how I can do something that helps to end racism, and as the weeks progress, I have become convinced that as the pandemic reveals the hundreds of cracks in our institutions, we find ourselves in a moment in time when we have the greatest opportunity to not only rebuild our institutions, but to insist that they are more equitable, more inclusive, more diverse, and more just. This involves representation in roles of leadership and power on our Boards, in our audiences, on our stages, and on our staffs.

How do we move forward? What do we do now?

I asked a trusted board member how A.R.T./New York can help. They are mourning and processing with their communities, so one thing they need is time. My board member also suggested we offer a meaningful resource.

1. Resources. Let us all use this time to think about the resources each of us has and how we can provide it to our Black Theatre artists/companies and to others who have been marginalized.

2. Facilitated Convenings. Robert Raben, founder of The Raben Group, wrote yesterday, "For those of you who run organizations and groups, consider providing your team a facilitated process to help those who might benefit from the support to stay true and centered, however you define that. We cannot be who we are and not feel all kinds of ways about what’s going on. We cannot do this work well without being honest about that."

 I have reached out to Robert to ask for his help in organizing convenings for our Black members, our members from other communities under attack, and all our members.

I also reached out to our friends at the Raben Group and shared the resource page created by The Movement Theatre Company and playwright Aleshea Harris, What to Send Up When It Goes Down.                                       

3. Next week’s Town Hall on June 8th. Let us use this time to explore what the future of theatre not only can be but should be!

All of us at A.R.T./New York share a commitment to building a theatre community where Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, and Justice are more than buzzwords. I want to acknowledge and lift up the many members of our staff, board, and membership who have been engaged in these fights for years. I am deeply grateful to them and to the many partners who have supported our work in creating more just, equitable, inclusive, and accessible systems within New York City’s nonprofit theatres. This is only the beginning.

I offer this link from Aleesha Harris’s What to Send Up When It Goes Down to our Black members and colleagues in the hopes that you can find community and comfort. Below you will find additional links to other resources for our community and individual communities to find comfort and support.

I love you all. Thank you for your work on the stage and off, thank you for being part of our amazing community, and thank you for your friendship. I am here for you not only in word, but in deeds.

With love and hope,

A.R.T./New York is a representative of New York’s theatre community, and we know our community is hurting. White supremacy and racial injustice affect members of our theatre community, loved ones, and neighborhoods. We are enraged by the ongoing discrimination and violence committed against Black people across the country, and we grieve and mourn with those who are in pain and suffering. 

The systems of white supremacy and racism are deeply embedded in our field. They inform the structure of our organizations; the artists and work that are funded, promoted, and deemed to be “successful”; and the continued devaluation of the work of BIPOC artists, administrators, and staff members. 

We are joining the calls for change, for dismantling these destructive systems, and for moving beyond just speaking toward action. As we move forward, we will continue and deepen our work to identify, address, and dismantle the systems of white supremacy and injustice in our internal and external work; build relationships and center the voices and work of BIPOC artists and theatre-makers; and devote time, energy, and resources to making our organization and the field more equitable and just. Moving forward, we will inevitably make missteps, but we are committed to self-examination, so that we can identify when our actions perpetuate racist systems and work to disrupt the cycle.


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