Awesome Theatre’s commitments to Equity and Accountability.

UPDATE 9/29/20

Friends,

Awesome Theatre is proud to stand with all members of our community to create a more equitable, more diverse environment for local artists to create, to be seen, and to be heard. To that end, we are releasing this document (and more documents to come) in order to be as transparent as possible with our former, current, and future business practices. Transparency is accountability. Within these documents, we hope you will see what changes we have made to further foster equity in our business and in our productions.

Accessibility

  • In order to make our shows non cost prohibitive, our ticket prices do not exceed $25, discount codes are regularly distributed, half price tickets are made available and we have a generous group discount. By continuing these practices and by telling stories from multiple backgrounds and experiences, we hope everyone has the opportunity to see themselves on our stage. We pledge to increase our outreach to communities that have been historically excluded from and made to feel unwelcome in theatre spaces.

Hiring and Casting

  • In 2021, auditions for our planned stage productions will be conducted virtually. This is to accommodate health concerns due to COVID-19, but also to accommodate actors who may have to spend significant travel time to attend a 5 minute audition.
  • We exclusively produce new works written by local artists. This is one of the central tenets of our company’s artistic identity.
  • In 2021 We will be commissioning 13 local writers for theatre, film and radio projects. At least 50% of them will be BIPOC writers and at least 50% of the directors will be BIPOC. In addition, at least 50% of writers and directors will be female identifying or non-binary artists.
  • In March, we committed to ensuring our production teams and our casts in 2021 will also comprise of at least 50% BIPOC artists and at least 50% female identifying or non-binary artists. This also applies to our remaining 2020 presentations.

Finance

  • We are a volunteer run organization, however all artists we work with receive an expense stipend comparable to any other artist working on the project. These payouts will increase by 25% until we are able to classify everyone as a regular employee with an hourly wage. In the coming weeks, we will release summaries of our 2020 and 2021 budgets to show exactly how much we spend, where we spend it, and our plans to increase those levels. 
  • Because all of our plays are commissioned, development periods for each play are needed which involve readings. Awesome Theatre is doing away with the unpaid “Living Room Reading” model and will be conducting all developmental readings virtually and providing a stipend to each artist.

Values Statement

  • In addition to our mission statement,  and our policy on only hiring local artists, we will add a corporate values statement to our website. This values statement will focus on our business practices. Highlighting our commitments to financial equity, the treatment of everyone we work with, and creating a work environment where everyone feels welcome. 

Code of conduct in all artists agreements

  • While our artist agreements already provide language stating the expectation that respectful language and behavior must be practiced at all times, in 2021, we will provide an additional code of conduct for everyone to sign and adhere to. This is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in our productions/invited into the Awesome Theatre community. This code of conduct will be posted at all rehearsals, filming, meetings, and backstage.

Interim Marketing Director

  • We have hired Lorenz Angelo Gonzales to create a formal annual marketing strategy and increase outreach to new audiences.

Human Resources

  • In 2022, Awesome Theatre will add a human resources director to the team. This person will handle artist agreements, payouts, and most importantly, workplace conduct. If any person working with Awesome Theatre in an administrative or artistic role, needs to file a complaint, report misconduct or needs to speak in confidence, the human resources director will assist those people. This also takes a responsibility usually given to the Director or Stage Manager (who are often not in a position to give issues the immediate attention they sometimes need) and creates a neutral place where accountability can happen in a safe and meaningful way.

At the beginning of 2021, we will release our next update with new policies. And while we are proud of these changes, the work is never really done. But we hope that these new commitments, in addition to ones we have already introduced will help Awesome Theatre better serve the entire Bay Area Theatre Community.

UPDATE: 8/5/2020

Friends,

We have read the recently released BIPOC Equity Action Plan, and want to thank everyone involved with its creation. To take hundreds of painful and unjust experiences and to use them to create a blueprint for how we can create equity in the art world is a gift. While several demands have been addressed in our prior statement (see original statement below), far more have not. We are committed to meeting them head-on and to the best of our abilities. The entire company and our Board of Directors support these demands 100%. To that end, and as promised, Awesome Theatre will be releasing a comprehensive Accountability Report in September that explicitly states our goals, the work we’ve already done to meet these goals, and the work we intend to do moving forward. This will include several new policies focused on accessibility, financial transparency, and outreach.  As time goes on and we increase in size, we will be able to grow to meet more of the financial demands outlined in the BIPOC Equity Action Plan.

While we are a small, volunteer-run nonprofit arts org (for now), we are not immune to the needs of the moment and of our community. We aim to be an example for other micro-theatre companies, both locally and nation-wide to show what role we can play.

To our BIPOC friends, collaborators, and allies: Thank you, we see you, we hear you, and we will fight against oppression and systemic white supremacy in our community and in all that we do. 


ORIGINAL POST 6/10/2020

Friends,

In light of the unrest and growing strife in our country, Awesome Theatre put out the following statement last week: 

“Awesome Theatre was created to make the things we thought should exist, to create art that was the change we wanted to see. We cannot stand silently by in the face of social revolt. Silence is complicity. This is the time to recognize injustice, to recognize the strife of our fellow humans, and to recognize the privilege we’ve so often either taken for granted, or flat out denied. To produce theatre is a privilege. To tell stories is a privilege. To tell the truth is an imperative.

We at Awesome Theatre can’t push on the lever of justice and bend the world. But we can tell stories. Your stories. We will use this privilege, this platform, to empower black voices, proactively create opportunities for artists in marginalized communities, to showcase the truth no matter how difficult it is to hear, and continue to be the change we want to see in the world, not just through our art, but in how we do business.

Black Lives Matter. Justice for all.”

After discussing as a company what our next steps would be to keep these promises, we believed a more in depth statement was necessary, so here it is:

From the beginning, Awesome theatre made a commitment to encompassing diverse voices and telling diverse stories. But we’ve failed in many ways. We have been complicit in the systemic prevalence of white supremacy in this country, and we will no longer be party to ignorance, fear, and hate, whether wittingly or unwittingly.

We could trot out pathetic excuses for why our actors, technical staff, and board members lack the full diversity we so genuinely want to represent. We could place the blame for our inaction at the feet of others. But the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves. We can do better. And we will do better.

Today we’re making a promise. A promise to improve our culture, improve our hiring practices, and a promise to represent voices of color in all that we do. Here are our goals for the upcoming year, and all the years moving forward.

We have hired Nikki Meñez, an incredible artist and creative voice in Bay Area theatre, as our casting director. With their help, we will be working to bring diversity to our productions and will work to create a more equitable and safe place where all artists feel welcome. They will help us develop as a company, and will help us commit to the following policies:

  • All shows must feature a cast that is at least 50% Women, Trans, or non-binary.
  • All shows must feature a cast that is at least 50% POC.
  • All shows must feature a design team that is at least 60% Women, Trans, or non-binary, and 50% POC.
  • Our Artist in residency program will be exclusively offered to women/trans/non-binary and/or POC.
  • We will seek to diversify our board, and will include at least one black voice if not more.
  • We will compile a public accountability report every year to be as transparent as possible as to how we’re living up to these promises.

We recognize that this is only a start, and a late start at that. We will strive with all the love, understanding, and compassion we can muster to stand with and listen to the black and other disenfranchised voices in our community. We will be here. Listening. Learning. And Growing.

With love and sincerity,

Awesome Theatre