Next Acts for the White Theatre-makers Acting On BIPOC Demands Affinity Space

By Corinna Schulenburg posted 09-08-2021 07:41


On September 1, 2020, the White Theatre-makers Acting On BIPOC Demands Affinity Space met for the first time. Over the following year, the group convened at least once a month, working through the #WeSeeYouWAT demands one-by-one through peer-driven learning. We also held special forums to take deeper dives into demands that needed more time. After working our way through all of the not-for-profit theatre-related demands, we focused on hiring accountability, as well as wider-frame conversations about anti-racism and organizational culture. 

Now, a year later, we’ve evaluated the work of this Space and are making changes to ensure its relevance, and deepen our commitment to meeting--and going beyond--the demands. First, we are suspending the monthly meetings for at least six months. Attendance at these meetings has declined for a number of reasons, including more local and regional organizing to meet the demands. We also feel that the format of these meetings has taken us as far as it can, and a different kind of engagement is needed.

To be clear, we are not saying “mission accomplished”. The work of meeting these demands is not completed, and uprooting racism is the work of generations, not a single year. What we are doing is adapting our approach to ensure we’re staying relevant and impactful. 

Our adapted approach is moving forward on a number of tracks. Our department of EDI initiatives is in the generative stages of a new program called Accountability for Abundance, or A4A. Building on the learnings from this group and our ED&I Institute, A4A is both a call-to-action and a national movement of Networks of Black theatres, Indigenous theatres, and Theatres of Color (BITOC) and predominantly white institutions (PWI) committed to and actively working towards eliminating racism and dismantling oppression in the theatre field. Over the coming months, you will hear from us as we look for white theatre-makers with a sustained commitment to accountability and anti-racism to help us co-create this new program, following the leadership of our BIPOC and BITOC colleagues. The #WeSeeYouWAT demands, along with other demands made by organizers of color, will continue to be central to that work.

In addition to the work of A4A, we’d like to keep this listserv active, and, starting in October, we will share demand-related resources on a monthly basis. We encourage you all to use this space to ask questions and share resources. We’ll also continue to integrate anti-racism accountability checks into all of our Theatre Leader Connectedness meetings, and program convening sessions connected to the demands. Racial justice is also a foundational principle of our Climate Action Monthly Meetings, which we encourage you to join. If you have any other ideas on how we might continue to hold ourselves accountable to the demands, and to our commitments to anti-racism more generally, please share them.

We’ll close by offering our thanks to everyone who participated in these meetings and made progress at your theatres. And we offer our deepest gratitude and ongoing accountability to the BIPOC organizers of the #WeSeeYouWAT demands. The work continues. 

Corinna Schulenburg, Director of Communications
Teresa Eyring. Executive Director & CEO