Our Commitment to Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The School of Theatre and Dance is committed to actively advancing an environment of diversity, equity and inclusion and to the unceasing work of anti-racism in all that we do.
Statement of Action
Originally posted August 27, 2020
WORDS ARE POWERFUL, BUT ACTION TRANSFORMS LIVES.
In difficult times, words are often where we turn first. We make statements of solidarity and condolence. We express our sympathy, frustration and outrage. We listen to the words of others, gaining insight from voices whose experiences are different from our own. We ask questions. We call for change.
But words are not enough, because they are meaningless without action. And that action begins now.
During these summer months, the faculty and staff of the School of Theatre and Dance have listened intently to our students, alumni, colleagues and community about the painful and far-reaching effects of systemic racism in our country. The perpetuation of this system cannot continue, and we are committed to do all in our power to combat its unjust influence on our school, our industry and our world.
Together, the School of Theatre and Dance is embarking on what we know will be unceasing work: to be actively anti-racist in all that we do.
WHAT WE’VE ALREADY BEGUN
We are actively reassessing our season selection process. The School of Theatre and Dance is already engaged in discussions and plans for how to make the season selection committee and the process of choosing productions more inclusive.
We are creating ways to support community for our students of color. At the suggestion of our students, we will have welcoming events for incoming students of color prior to help establish community for incoming and current students.
We are beginning a critical analysis of curriculum. While the formal process of making curriculum changes takes time, we have begun to identify and implement changes within individual courses to ensure that classroom content is diverse and inclusive. Over the course of the next year, we will embark on the process of revising our curriculum to expand its inclusion of the voices of artists of color.
We have created an anti-racism Committee within the School of Theatre and Dance. The newly formed Community, Anti-Racism, and Equity (CARE) Committee will critically examine existing policies and procedures within our classrooms and production processes. The committee will make recommendations for policy change to align with the School of Theatre and Dance’s anti-racist mission and connect to College and university level bodies addressing Equity and Inclusion on our campuses. (See more information below.)
WHAT WE WILL DO NEXT
We will hold ourselves and each other accountable. Members of the School of Theatre and Dance will engage regularly in training and learning experiences to confront biases inside and outside of the classroom and performing arts institutions. New members of the faculty and staff will be required to participate in diversity, equity and inclusion training before joining the school.
We will look critically at and make changes to our production process. The School of Theatre and Dance will evaluate casting procedures, particularly regarding past policies of colorblind casting and instead will focus on providing casting opportunities that emphasize representation. We will create a policy that allows students to decline auditions due to self-care, we will focus on creating more equity in casting opportunities and we will develop aftercare for students not cast in a specific production. We will also incorporate more opportunities for conversation about content and identity in the rehearsal room. The school will also expand its commitment to producing work from diverse creators and will work to expand our partnerships with artists locally and nationwide.
We will make the creation of a diverse and inclusive guest artist program a priority. We will work diligently to invite more guest artists and teachers of color to the School of Theatre and Dance each semester in all areas of study.
We will create a better and more inclusive climate within our school, aligning our actions more closely to our mission to be an “environment where passion and opportunity meet.” We will revise our first-year student orientation process to place an emphasis on community. We will be better advocates and mentors. We will create a faculty-sponsored safe space for students of color to connect and to offer feedback and communicate concerns. We will also form a resource area with information from the university and greater community.
The above action items are merely the beginning the School of Theatre and Dance’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We look forward to continuing the dialogue and action needed to create an equitable and anti-racist environment for our every member of our school.
Community, Anti-Racism and Equity Committee
A lack of diversity, equity and inclusion/belonging continue to be a concern in the School of Theatre and Dance. The newly formed CARE Committee, co-founded by faculty members Gregory King and Fabio Polanco, will create and enact initiatives that support anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion/belonging throughout SOTD, COTA and the greater community. The committee seeks to: (1) improve the climate for current and prospective students, faculty and staff from BIPOC and underrepresented groups; (2) diversify School of Theatre and Dance curriculum and creative programming; and (3) recruit more undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff from BIPOC and underrepresented groups. The committee is comprised of elected, volunteering and selected students, staff and faculty from School of Theatre and Dance, Kent State University and the city of Kent.
Monthly meetings will be held during the academic year and are open to all community members. In addition, the committee will host school events and workshops.