Commitment to Anti-Racism
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ROUND HOUSE AND ANTI-RACISM
A Progress Report | January 2021
Round House updated its mission in March 2020 to be a Theatre for Everyone—a theatre of and for our community. Our organizational values, adopted at the same time, include a commitment to be an anti-racist, anti-sexist organization. In early July 2020, Round House published a Commitment to Anti-Racism that outlined what we had already implemented alongside the new initiatives and procedures we would take on to address inequities at our theatre. As we noted at that time, the work of anti-racism must be active and ongoing and our commitments continually updated.
Later that month, a collective of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) theatremakers issued a set of demands following the We See You, White American Theater (WSYWAT) testimonial letter addressing the pervasiveness of anti-Blackness and racism in American theatre. To those artists, and to artists everywhere who spoke out about their experiences: thank you. We hear you and we recognize the systemic harms perpetuated by the theatre industry.
Round House’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) Staff Workgroup and executive leadership have undertaken an item-by-item review and discussion of the WSYWAT demands to thoughtfully assess our current practices, recognize where we have failed, and decide what changes we need to make. Part of this process included holding listening sessions with our full-time staff, part-time staff, Round House artists, and members of the Black Artist Coalition to learn more about their experiences directly. All participants were compensated for their time.
Based on the feedback shared in these conversations and our assessment of the WSYWAT demands, Round House has added several new and significant commitments to our initial list. This document reflects the most current set of programs and policies aimed at furthering our anti-racist goals—some already in place, some currently in progress, and some soon to be implemented. Each of the following sections lays out our prior commitments and progress thus far and then outlines our new commitments.
This list will continue to evolve as Round House emphatically pursues our mission to be a Theatre for Everyone.
ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK & PROCESSES
Round House Theatre is committed to breaking down racial barriers through our promotion of dialogue and understanding, building bridges within our communities, and engendering empathy in our audiences. We recognize that the values of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility must be a fundamental part of every aspect of our work, starting at the administrative and organizational level.
In January 2020, our full-time staff and board participated in three days of racial equity training with artEquity, an organization that provides resources and training to support the intersection of art and activism. In early 2020, we formed Staff and Board EDIA Workgroups to guide our efforts to transform our organizational culture into one that is fully inclusive and equitable. The individuals on the Staff EDIA Workgroup represent all Round House departments and comprise a diverse mix of identities, staff levels, and tenure. Recognizing a need to decentralize our hierarchical power structure and to ensure BIPOC staff voices are heard and valued at Round House, the EDIA Staff Workgroup advises on all policies and procedures. In February 2020, Round House expanded our Senior Staff to a larger and more inclusive Management Team, and we are continuing to explore shared power structures throughout the organization.
PROGRAMMING & PRODUCTION
Round House is invested in diversifying the voices that are amplified through live theatre. Launched in 2017, our Equal Play commissioning program is commissioning and developing 30 new plays written exclusively by female-identifying playwrights and BIPOC playwrights to create a new body of work that will help reshape the face of American theatre. Additionally, beginning with the 2019-2020 Season, we committed to staffing our shows with at least 50% BIPOC artists (actors, stage managers, designers, directors, and crew) in an effort to address inequities in our field, to enrich our storytelling by better reflecting the diversity within our community and our country, and to hold ourselves accountable. In 2018, we implemented Fair Play, a non-negotiable, equitable pay scale for all contracted artists.
We believe that engaging in the arts is essential to the human experience and actively work to break down barriers to attending, learning, and creating theatre. We offer affordable ticket options, including a range of standard and discounted tickets. Our community ticket access programs Free Play and On the House, respectively, provide free tickets to all Round House productions to students age 13 through college and to the staff, volunteers, and constituents of community serving nonprofit organizations in the DC metropolitan area.
Round House proactively and intentionally recruits BIPOC members to our Board of Trustees. BIPOC Trustees represent 23% of our current Board, and we are committed to furthering our efforts to increase BIPOC Board membership to accurately reflect and represent the diversity of Montgomery County and the DC metropolitan area. Artists are represented by two Artist Trustees on the Round House Board, which has been a part of Round House’s bylaws for 15 years.
EXPECTATIONS & ACCOUNTABILITY
Round House is a people-first organization committed to fostering a safe, supportive, and equitable environment for our staff, artists, and patrons. We have reviewed and expanded our Code of Conduct for Staff and Artists and ensured its broad distribution to full-time, part-time, and contracted employees.
We will apply an anti-racism lens to all major organizational decisions and all current policies and procedures, recognizing that if a policy is not anti-racist, it is inherently racist. We will also review our vendor relationships, giving preference to companies who actively and publicly work toward EDIA objectives. We are committed to auditing our progress on these anti-racism commitments on—at minimum—an annual basis, publishing our progress each year in our Annual Report.
ONGOING EDIA INITIATIVES
While the harms of racism—especially anti-Blackness and anti-Indigenous oppression—must be addressed and repaired in American theatre, we recognize that racism is not the only system of power and oppression in our society, professional field, or institution. Individuals and groups are also marginalized and discriminated against based on identity factors including (but not limited to) gender, sexuality, ability, class, age, religion, and citizenship. We also recognize that these systems do not operate independently, but compound and intersect with one another, as first described by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989.
The WSYWAT demands were instrumental in guiding Round House’s antiracism work as outlined above. We also want to detail some of the other ongoing commitments and initiatives that address EDIA more holistically or were designed to combat other systems of oppression.
During summer 2020, Round House Theatre leadership matched staff donations to the following organizations. We encourage our community to join us in supporting these or other organizations supporting anti-racism efforts and the Black community.