Statement of Support for #WeSeeYouWAT Demands
TCG is a historically and predominantly white organization that has benefitted from the inequities and injustice of white supremacy. As such, it is critical that we offer our full and unequivocal support for the recent demands made by BIPOC organizers, including We See You, White American Theater #WeSeeYouWAT. This statement is meant to clarify the actions we’re taking and keep us accountable to following through, and we’ll release more statements as our work progresses.
To begin, we offer our deep gratitude to the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) organizers for their ongoing labor in creating these demands and holding the field accountable. We know that you do this work amid a pandemic that disproportionately impacts BIPOC communities, as well as ongoing state and vigilante violence. It is time for white theatremakers and predominantly white institutions (PWIs) to address this imbalance of labor through our actions. We do so knowing that our labor is in service of BIPOC leadership.
As a national service organization, TCG must respond to these demands both internally and externally. We’ve held four meetings of a national White Theatre-makers Acting On BIPOC Demands Affinity Space, which will continue to meet monthly through at least September 2021. While we’re moving forward with who shows up, we want to be clear: we expect all of our white colleagues, and all our fellow PWIs that have benefited from white supremacy, to join us in this work with your whole hearts. It is our responsibility to hold our membership accountable and to be held accountable in turn. In the words of The Peoples Climate Movement, “to change everything, we need everyone.”
We’re also conducting an audit of all of our programs and services to see how they can be more responsive to the demands. Some of the actions we’ve committed to thus far:
- Holding monthly meetings of the White Theatre-makers Acting On BIPOC Demands Affinity Space;
- Responding to a request from production managers’ to make ARTSEARCH free to all job-seekers, and require job-posters to include specific salary ranges;
- Responding to theatre leaders calling for TCG to share the data of the Salary Survey with the field as a whole;
- Focusing the November Fall Forum on the #WeSeeYouWAT demands to create a truly equitable and inclusive theatre field;
- Committing to at least 51% of all TCG’s grantmaking go directly toward BIPOC and BITOC (Black Theatres, Indigenous Theatres, and Theatres of Color); and
- Launching the Freelancers Relief Fund: Theatre Designers grant program, which provides a limited number of rapid response grants of $1,000 each for scenic, lighting, costume, sound, and projection designers.
As we do this external work, we’re also committed to an equal amount of rigor in our internal work, including:
- Fostering accountability from our Anti-Racist Learning and Action Affinity Space for White TCG Staff toward our POC@TCG Affinity Space;
- Budgeting for regular anti-racism, anti-oppression, and accessibility training;
- Continuing the work of our internal EDI Workgroup, including EDI Brownbags where staff members propose and curate awareness-building meetings on injustice and exclusion in our wider community; and
- Building and sustaining a workplace culture that fuels passions and creativity, nurtures collective engagement, embodies diversity, models transparency, facilitates growth, and elevates honest and open discourse.
This responsiveness to the BIPOC demands is wholly aligned with our longstanding commitment to EDI as well as our more recent strategic planning process. In 2021, TCG will celebrate the 60th anniversary of our founding. Amid the fires of a global pandemic and an uprising against white supremacy, it has felt as if TCG is being refounded; not only by our staff and board, but collectively by a field that cannot and will not go back to the way things were. As our strategic planning interrogated what our vision of “a better world for theatre and a better world because of theatre” means now, we fortified and clarified TCG’s mission: to lead for a just and thriving theatre ecology. A core part of achieving that mission is our commitment to centering BIPOC theatremakers in all of our programs and services going forward. We’ll share more in the months and years to come.
While responding to #WeSeeYouWAT requires our urgent and immediate action, the demands should only be a starting place. The portal of this pandemic, the crucible of this uprising, invites us all to dream forward and collectively create a theatre field more just and thriving than we have words for now. We again thank the BIPOC organizers for their leadership and labor, and look forward to the work to come.
Teresa Eyring and Adrian Budhu
Teresa Eyring (she/her/hers)
Adrian Budhu (he/him/his)