Central Works Racial Justice Action Plan
Central Works recognizes the demands made by We See You White American Theatre and the BIPOC Living Doc Equity Action Plan. We are aware of, and are grateful for, the extensive amount of labor that went into these documents. We are meeting this effort with labor of our own. Our Artistic Leadership, our Board, our Policy Committee, and our Planning Committee are meeting often to evaluate where we stand on the demands before us, and to initiate transparent, speedy action, with timelines.
The recent expression of pain, grief, and rage from BIPOC artists about racism in our theater community has moved us to a place of deep self-examination, commitment, and action. Central Works acknowledges that we, like so many other white U.S. theaters, have profited from systemic racism. Put simply, our desire and commitment is to heal the hurt we have caused and demonstrate anti-racism, equity, justice, and humanity: in our art, in the structure of our theater, and in the all the ways we work.
Our company is currently engaged in deep and meaningful dialogue to examine the personal, interpersonal, institutional, and structural levels at which racism – including but not limited to anti-Black racism – occurs in our organization. We are asking ourselves: What attitudes and actions must we practice to enact and uphold anti-racism? What barriers exist to fully realizing this intention, and how will we remove them?
We are proceeding with urgency balanced with care in order to make thoughtful, deliberate, meaningful, and enduring changes. The following are our commitments, so far, in response to the We See You White American Theatre and the BIPOC Living Doc Equity Action Plan demands for dismantling systems of racism and oppression in the theater.
OUR COMMITMENTS so far:
- We commit to self-reflect, listen, learn, plan, and act in ways that are uplifting, joyful, and welcoming to all.
- We commit to defend racial and social justice, to practice active anti-racism, and to confront and dismantle oppression (including, but not limited to racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance) in everything we do.
- We commit to upholding a culture of respect toward all artists who work in our theater. Through education and training, we will improve and expand our points of view and cultural competency.
- We will publish a thorough plan of action, with a timeline, to operationalize our commitment to creating an equitable, just, and anti-racist theater.
- We will sustain our existing efforts and implement new ones to ensure all are treated fairly and without bias, including:
- Continuing to pay all creative and technical staff a fair wage equal to or exceeding Berkeley’s minimum wage. Since 2017, all Central Works actors and technicians have been compensated as employees, instead of as independent contractors.
- Being explicit and nondiscriminatory in contractual dealings with all artists and staff;
- Continuing to reject the practice of hiring unpaid interns;
- Continuing to engage in respectful, clear, and comprehensive communications with everyone. This includes, but is not limited to, communications about casting, the entire audition process, the rehearsal process, and hiring decisions.
- We will ensure our job posting language and our hiring policies are anti-racist and reflective of justice and equity.
- We commit to doubling our efforts to recruit more BIPOC Board members, and to recruit and hire more BIPOC artists and team members.
- We commit to increased BIPOC representation on our stage; for the past three years, more than 50% BIPOC have participated as artists and production members.
- We commit to commissioning and producing more plays written by BIPOC artists; more than 50% of the writers in the current Central Works Writers Workshop, from which we develop new plays for production, are BIPOC.
Our Planning Committee has evaluated and revised our Mission, Vision and Values statements to reflect a strengthened, explicitly anti-racist stance. This is part of an ongoing process for the company to define the core values of our organization, improve our focus, and govern how people are encouraged and expected behave.
- The revised Mission, Vision and Values statements are posted on our website. We commit to share our Mission, Vision and Values statements and our anti-racism policies with all guest artists. We will continue to evaluate and, if necessary, refresh these statements.
- The Planning Committee continues to study our strategic planning process through an anti-racist and social justice lens, incorporating anti-racism and anti-oppression strategies and action steps into our Plan.
- Our latest 990 financial statements are available on the Guidestar website, and upon request.
- We recognize that the Central Works performance space at the Berkeley City Club is positioned on Huchuin territory, land stolen from the Chochenyo-speaking Lisjan Ohlone people.
- We will collaborate with Indigenous stakeholders to write an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Statement, to be announced regularly at rehearsals and performances.
- We have begun donating annually to the Shuumi land tax supporting the work of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust.
- We will provide anti-racist, internal bias, and cultural competency training for the Board, Artistic Team, creatives, and all staff, on a regular basis, and at least annually.
- Our Policy Committee will revise our employee/policy handbook from an anti-racist and social justice perspective, making changes where needed.
- We will create a clear policy and process for safe reporting of racist behavior, language, and comments, microaggressions, and other acts of oppression.
- We are investigating a process with an external partner to address internal complaints as a form of true accountability.
- We will normalize the conversation about anti-racism, so that people may speak up without fear of retaliation, and so that we can promptly address issues that arise.
- We will put in place an evaluation system to follow the closing of each production, drawing input from all team members in a safe, anonymous survey.
- We will create a code of conduct of intervention during performances and other events, for the protection of BIPOC and members of any marginalized group.
- We will review and update anti-racism and racial and social justice activities as a regular agenda item of each board meeting.
- We will continue to offer 25% of our performances as pay-what-you-can to anyone in the community, and offer sliding scale admission at the door to any performance.
- We will devote resources to funding participation and engagement of historically marginalized communities, including allocation of complimentary tickets, and announce this to our patrons.
- We will continue to create, and to expand, our performance-surrounding resources for patrons that include, but are not limited to: information about the culture and history referenced in the play, ways to support Black and Brown businesses, and ways for our audiences to engage as responsible community members.
- We will intentionally recruit, meaningfully include, gainfully employ, and actively support artists from heretofore under-represented groups, ranging from content creation to consulting to designing to performing, for example, we will:
- actively and intentionally seek to hire BIPOC, queer, trans, womxn of color, non-binary and/or disabled administrative staff.
- continue to hire cultural consultants for ethnically specific shows in the season programming.
- continue to hire dramaturgs of color, and queer and disabled dramaturgs, for culturally-specific and other shows in the season programming.
- continue to hire BIPOC, queer, trans, womxn, and/or non-binary team members for production teams.
- hire culturally competent design team members (makeup, hair, wig, lighting, costume, props, scenery) with strong histories in collaborating with Black/Brown artists.
- establish affinity spaces for each show in the season programming.
- continue to provide additional compensation for artists participating in post-performance discussions.
- We will intentionally recruit, meaningfully include, and actively support Board Members from heretofore under-represented groups.
- We will continue to review Board Member expectations including support other than the “Give/Get model.”
This list is incomplete. We commit to be thorough. Additional commitments and action will be posted on our website. Our process is ongoing and will not end. We will move forward with thoughtfulness, spirit, deep listening, and heart, to ensure everyone’s voice is heard, valued, and respected.
last updated 2.15.21