(August 25, 2020) A Progress Report
On July 8, a collective of multi-generational, Black, Indigenous and People of Color theatermakers released a “comprehensive but by no means exhaustive” list of demands for the White American Theater. This powerful document can be used as a guidebook for both becoming an anti-racist organization, and for communally co-creating an anti-racist theatrical landscape. Ars Nova both honors and is grateful to the collective for their labor creating and sharing this document, and acknowledges that their demands stem from the years of exclusion, exploitation, and erasure of their Black and brown bodies and stories by predominantly white arts and culture institutions. We recognize that we are one of these predominantly white organizations, and that we have been both complicit in and the beneficiaries of the same culture of white supremacy and anti-Blackness that has caused them harm.
We reaffirm our commitment to doing the work required to dismantle these harmful, racist systems and to building a more equitable, just and participatory organizational culture and framework for art-making.
In the spirit of transparency, we are “showing our work” and sharing our process and pathways as they exist now. In the spirit of accountability, we are sharing our next steps towards these goals.
In the past six weeks we have:
- Formally incorporated the BIPOC Demands for White American Theater into our existing Organizational Goals for equity, representation, and anti-racism;
- Taken a comprehensive inventory of these demands and completed a full-team self-assessment and audit of our performance across each one;
- Created a structure for pursuing these anti-racist Goals that complements our horizontally collaborative operational structure by:
- Creating mandatory Working Groups in Immediate Response, Equity and Justice Plans, Education, and Data/Surveying that meet weekly;
- Creating a leadership structure for these Working Groups that does not directly correspond to existing organizational hierarchy, and that also meets weekly;
- Explicitly including anti-racist work in the job descriptions of every team member and on the agenda of every extant organizational team’s weekly meetings;
- Assigning each of these demands to one of these Working Groups or Organizational Teams; and
- Activating our Board’s Equity, Justice & Inclusion Task Force in response to these demands and to forge and activate a work-plan at the Board level for the year ahead.
In the next six months we will:
- Commission and develop a majority of BIPOC artists;
- Develop and experiment with more equitable and power-sharing curatorial practices;
- Publish our FY21 Organizational Budget and its guiding principles;
- Triple our budget line item providing for regular anti-racism work;
- Publish explicitly anti-racist policies and share them, along with our extant Code of Conduct, with all collaborators prior to beginning work together;
- Expand our practice of ongoing, mandatory EDI Training, creating an educational arc that is flexible and supportive of our artists and the teams that support their work;
- Compensate artists for their performances at all donor events;
- Begin meaningfully and respectfully acknowledging the history of the land we work on and benefit from; and
- Publish regular progress reports from our Working Groups and Organizational Teams, as we further and deepen this work.
Our process is iterative; while we can’t promise it will always work, we can promise we will be intentionally flexible and responsive to change if it does not. Further, this list of commitments and actions is not exhaustive; it represents neither the extent of the work to be done, nor the extent of the work we’ll do. But, we will endeavor to become a more racially and culturally just organization that creates art more equitably and inclusively by immediately taking at least these steps.
And, we promise we will continue.
(May 31, 2020) Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter.
Ars Nova recognizes that we operate within systemic racism, and that neutrality and silence only feeds it further. We are committed to the work of anti-racism and anti-oppression in our organization, in our lives and in our art. We know that we have just begun this work and that there is much yet for us to learn and to do. We hold ourselves accountable for working to dismantle the systemic racism, oppression and violence that permeates our country and our industry.
Below are just a few of the funds to which our staff have donated over the past several days. Today, we ask you to consider joining us in supporting these or others that are dedicated to social justice, if you are able:
- Black Visions Collective
- The Bronx Freedom Fund
- Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
- Campaign Zero
- Color of Change
- The Conscious Kid
- Dignity and Power Now
- Emergency Release Fund/ Community Justice Exchange
- Equality for Flatbush
- Liberty Fund NYC
- Louisville Community Bail Fund
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund
- North Star Health Collective
- Philadelphia Bail Fund
- Reclaim The Block
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- Transgender Law Center (in Memory of Tony McDade)
- WFPC Mutual Aid Fund
We also continue our work by:
- Using our platform to amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Color artists;
- Identifying, confronting and addressing the barriers to attendance that keep BIPOC audiences mostly out of our spaces;
- Calling on the white people within our community to acknowledge their own racism, decenter themselves, and actively engage in anti-racist practices;
- Committing to our continued education as individuals and as an organization so that we can uproot the system of racism on which we are built.
We stand in solidarity. We hope you will join us.
The Staff & Board Leadership of Ars Nova
Chelsea Barker, House Manager
Judy Bedol, Board Secretary
Renee Blinkwolt, Managing Director
Nicole Brodeur, Board Member
Immi Chaudhry, Executive Assistant
Jack Dentinger, House Manager
Jason Eagan, Founding Artistic Director
Victor Edozien, Board Member
Rick Feldman, Board Member
Lizzy Florence, Board Member
Deeksha Gaur, Board Member
Miranda Hanson, Development Associate
Jake Haungs, Operations and Facilities Manager
Kalen Sierra Hughes, Production Apprentice
Dena Igusti, Marketing Fellow
Mac Ingram, Director of Development
Sarah Ivins, Marketing Manager
Jason Kemper, Board Treasurer
Ben Klein, Audience Engagement Associate
Dana Kirchman, Board Vice Chair
Simon Lass, Technical Director
Alisa Lessing, Board Chair
Maura Le Viness, Management Fellow
Jes Levine, Director of Production
Francis Madi Cerrada, Development Fellow
Greta Mansour, Board Member
David Miner, Board Member
Kris Pritchard, Associate Production Manager
Justin Samoy, Individual Giving and Special Events Manager
Eric Shethar, Artistic Programs Manager
Jessie Shinberg, Rentals Coordinator
Emily Shooltz, Associate Artistic Director
Tina Simpson, Management Assistant
Jenny Steingart, Founding Board Chair, Co-Founder
Tamara Vallejos, Director of Marketing and Communications
Kate Weber, Interim Business Manager
Casey York, General Manager
Updated May 31, 2020.