AfterWork Theater stands with Black Lives Matter and maintains its commitment to providing a safe and equitable space for black, indigenous, and people of color members of our community.
As an anti-racist theater organization, we challenge ourselves to be increasingly thoughtful and intentional about the ways in which we can best champion diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a performing arts institution, we acknowledge the responsibility we carry to actively dismantle the systems that have historically benefited many of us while simultaneously silencing, oppressing, and causing harm to far too many others.
We like to say our organization celebrates the different backgrounds and perspectives of our community members. Although we have misstepped along the way to achieving this vision, our commitment to learning and unlearning the ways in which we can better live up to these values is stronger than ever:
• Educating ourselves: As leaders of an organization, we must ensure we have the tools required to analyze our privilege and how it impacts the decisions we make in creating and running an anti-racist organization. Therefore, our first order of business is to educate ourselves on the history of systemic racist and exclusionary policies as well as the current landscape of discrimination that exists at the intersection of the theater and nonprofit sectors.
• Lifting marginalized voices: We recognize the role that theater can play in amplifying underrepresented communities by telling their stories. In the short term, we will revisit our programming and select programs that are developed by, or center content on, voices in the community that are marginalized in our community. Long term, our goal is to design a programming rubric that will aim to balance spotlighting minority voices and continuing the conventional programs that you have come to expect from AWT.
• Deconstructing our approach and policies: We acknowledge that theater as an institution was created by and for white people. Over the course of the next few months and as an ongoing practice, we will be reviewing every aspect of AWT’s operations, deconstructing and rebuilding them with DEI at the center, rather than bolted on as an afterthought. This will cover everything from casting practices to how we interpret and make decisions based on participant data we collect.
• Elevating transparency: We believe progress can only come when we are committed to proactively communicating and sharing key information with our community. We aim to ensure all of our stakeholders — participants, donors, volunteers, and others — understand how we are governed, make decisions, balance our books, and more.
Of course, there is more to come. Thank you so much for working with us to build a better AWT community.