A message from our leadership on systemic racism
UPDATE: January 20, 2021
To our Bard Community;
Over the past seven months, our organization has invested a significant amount of time and resources to better understand how Equity, Diversity and Inclusion issues have impacted our Company, artists, audience members and staff. We’re providing this in-progress update today and will continue to bring you fresh information as our plans and projects develop further.
Over this time, we have conducted a rigorous investigation into how we can better serve all our constituents. The following are aspects of that work.
We employed three full-time community liaisons for six months to help us evaluate past and current practices and events, and plan for a greater EDI commitment for the future. We are deeply grateful to Christine Quintana, Marci T. House and Sereana Malani for their invaluable assistance, insight and recommendations.
We have reached out to our large Bard community and heard back from hundreds of you. Thank you for your helpful and generous feedback about your experiences at Bard and your suggestions about future programs and programming.
We have looked at all areas of our organization, including our Board of Directors, and conducted many interviews and a historical analysis of activities and consequences. We identified challenges and opportunities in all areas of our organization and commit to providing regular updates on areas of focus and progress made.
We have dedicated reflection, sharing and learning time for our entire staff, and have offered training and collaboration sessions for the whole team and Board to learn and grow from EDI professionals as well as each other.
As we enter a new year with renewed dedication and excitement to move forward with our identified EDI priorities, we have appointed a new joint staff/Board working group. Its mandate is to ensure there continues to be organizational accountability, a dedicated focus on this work and additional resources for the entire organization to reach our individual and collective EDI goals.
We are pleased to announce Bard’s new joint staff/board EDI working group: Jocelyn Cartmel (Box Office Supervisor), Alva Tang (Individual Giving Manager), Maya Lohcham (Marketing Manager), Rhea Shroff (Artistic and Company Manager), Jonathan Ryder (Production Manager), Dean Paul Gibson (Associate Artistic Director), Christopher Gaze (Artistic Director), Claire Sakaki (Executive Director), and Shona McGlashan (Board Member).
We are also in the process of creating an ongoing and dedicated space on our website to share our progress on Bard EDI initiatives and objectives and community resources and voices. Please visit us there beginning next month as we continue our journey.
UPDATE: Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Dear Bard patrons, partners and community members,
We are thankful for the feedback that we received since releasing our statement on systemic racism. Since then, many members of our community have shared past experiences and we have received much constructive feedback. We look forward to incorporating this feedback into our plans moving forward.
We also heard that not everyone is comfortable speaking directly to us or our Board of Directors, and given that feedback, we have engaged facilitators to help bridge these conversations and provide support. Those who participate in these consultations will be compensated for their time and effort.
We have also formed a working group and hired community members to join us in addressing the issues of systemic racism. This group will work with all individuals and departments in our organization, including our Board of Directors, and will also reach out to our community. This group and its members are not in place to segregate this work, but to ensure our accountability and a renewed commitment to the work.
By later this year, we will announce our next set of goals and clear, actionable and measurable plans. We expect these goals and plans will evolve over time; however it is important to us that we create and publicly share concrete plans in a regular and timely way. It is also important to us that these actions will balance urgency with proper processes in order to minimize harm.
Bard welcomes three artistic community members to our working group, with a mandate to establish goals and plans addressing equity, diversity and inclusion in our organization: they are Christine Quintana, Sereana Malani and Marci T. House. Please find below the contact information for them as well as for the other members of our working group. We encourage everyone to reach out to any of the group members to communicate your experiences or provide feedback. Thank you in advance for sharing with us.
Christine Quintana, Community Liaison
email@example.com (on leave in July, returning August)
Sereana Malani, Community Liaison
Marci T. House, Community Liaison
Christopher Gaze, Artistic Director
Dean Paul Gibson, Associate Artistic Director
Claire Sakaki, Executive Director
Rhea Shroff, Company and Education Manager
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Dear Bard patrons, partners and friends,
We are sharing this message with you today to open a door and begin a new kind of dialogue between us.
We are a Shakespeare Festival whose performance venue is located on Sen’ákw, the site of a vibrant Coast Salish village which was the home of Indigenous nations for thousands of years. In recent years, our status as occupants of that space has prompted us to embark on a process of internal examination and change. We’ve considered what it means for us in the 21st century to be a presenter of plays written 400 years ago that are rooted in colonial arts practice. We have made some progress towards understanding and change-making, while fully recognizing we have so much more to do.
Now we have become witnesses to the profoundly powerful events in the days following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We have seen anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and anti-Asian racism and its impact in a visceral way. We have been reminded that it is systemic in this country, and has destroyed the rights and very existence of so many Black, Indigenous and racialized people.
Last week our Bard employee group set aside a dedicated period of time to explore and share with each other things we didn’t know – and need to learn – to gain a deeper understanding of the ways racism exists within ourselves, within our community and beyond – and how each of us is complicit in its existence. Our board of directors are also engaged in reflection, discussion and listening – and are committed to action and accountability.
We acknowledge that we have made mistakes and missed opportunities in the past, as individuals and as an organization. We are determined to forge a new path as change agents and as citizens, and we are resolved to do this work with greater focus, more energy and more resources.
What will that mean in practice?
We’ve set up an internal working group as a next step and are actively dedicating resources to make sure we are discussing the issues, identifying overt and unconscious biases in ourselves and making sure our short and long-term actions reflect and embed our learning. We are making a public commitment to do more, both as individuals and as an organization, and we commit to sharing our plans with you and others as we develop them in the coming weeks and beyond.
It also means we are inviting you to speak your truth to us. We want to hear from those of you who see opportunities for us to do better. If you’d like to ask questions, share thoughts, or propose ways we can change, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com; if you would like your message to go to our Board of Directors, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the time of COVID-19, we can’t safely gather together in person for this vital dialogue, but we are committed to launching a new level of active communication within and outside our organization, through all the ways we are able to offer and others you may suggest.
With our thanks for the time you’ve taken to read these words and consider their meaning, and for the ways you choose to respond.