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An Update on Our Anti-Racism Commitments & Actions

February 2023:

At HVSF, inclusion is one of our core values. As a predominantly white institution, we acknowledge that our actions and procedures have often upheld established systems of white supremacy that are directly opposed to this core value. With this update, we continue our commitment  to dismantling these practices and advancing the work of anti-racism throughout our organization. We know the eradication of these systems will not happen overnight, and recognize that the update we share today represents small steps in a comprehensive institutional evolution. In June of 2020 we shared the foundational commitments that guide our work, and promised to deliver regular, transparent, and specific updates on our progress. Those updates can be found here: June 2020, November 2020, June of 2021, and February 2022.  We share today’s update with our community in the spirit of full transparency. We do not represent this list of updates to be complete. Rather, it is a description of work that is continually progressing and evolving, and we recognize that there is more work to be done.

Our Code of Community can be found here  
This Code is an organism of our organization; a living thing with the ability to evolve and expand intrinsic to its existence and enactment. We invite our community to suggest, recommend and contribute additional insight as we continue to capture and honor the specific needs of our members.

  • The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival has enlisted the help of Anthem of Us/Perception Strategies to provide equity and antiracism training  for its Board of Directors. The aim is to raise awareness and promote understanding, as well as develop tools to establish, reinforce, and maintain a culture of inclusiveness. This partnership is central to our commitment to aligning our resources with the principle of inclusion and to giving our stakeholders the knowledge and tools they need to counteract unconscious biases in their decision-making, planning, and collaboration.
  • Our staff continues to hold bi-weekly hour-long IDEA sessions (an acronym for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) with year-round staff, moderated by a facilitator. Our sessions discuss relevant topics on antiracism and inclusion, and opportunities/efforts to identify and address structural inequities in our industry and our institution. 
  • The 2023 proposed budget for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival has prioritized the engagement of a trained facilitator to create company agreements and accountability for both staff and visiting artists.
  • We will again engage our company in a post-season facilitated company conversation (as well as a survey to capture input from company members no longer in residence), designed to learn from and improve their experience and quality of life while living and working at HVSF. 
  • Adjustments to the production calendar have been made to observe holidays, aiming to provide more ample breaks throughout the season and promote human sustainability. 
  • Reflecting feedback that we heard at the conclusion of last season, for the 2023 season, production practices will focus on our commitment to “prioritize people over stuff.” . This includes publishing a designer handbook to make purchasing information and local resources more accessible, tracking the usage and spending of props and costume materials (stock, used, and new), and aiming to use 45% used materials. The target for used vs. new materials will increase in future seasons as the stock becomes more accessible. 
  • To give designers and support staff more time for sustainable sourcing and production, the deadlines for costumes and props have been adjusted. Tours of the HVSF stock will be offered ahead of these design deadlines.
  • In order to maintain affordable pricing for the widest possible audience, we’ve made adjustments to our seating chart. We have slightly increased our most expensive seats and removed discounts in the Center-Front section to ensure seating throughout the rest of the theater remains accessible for all audiences. Our most affordable ticket remains at $10. In addition, we have added more matinees than ever before and are engaging different schools and partners to expand access.
  • For 2023, we are moving catering in-house and collaborating with the existing restaurant on campus to create a more sustainable food service model that prioritizes healthy, nourishing meals for our staff, casts, and crews. In turn this will lessen the environmental impact (and reduce the burden on Company Management staff) of driving to get meals and pick up catering. Our intention is to cut down on waste and improve social well-being among our team, especially during tech and previews.