At HVSF, inclusion is one of our core values. And yet, 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. This must change. We are committed to dismantling these practices and advancing the work of anti-racism throughout our entire organization.
We are grateful to the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members of our community who have generously provided us with resources and courageously shared their experiences. We’ve looked to these calls for change and equity from We See You White American Theatre and the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, among other sources, to guide us in this work. We know the eradication of these systems will not happen overnight, and we recognize that the actions we share today are only the first step in a comprehensive and ongoing process. We approach the work of shifting our practices and culture with humility, and we acknowledge that this evolution is long overdue.
In June, we shared the foundational commitments which will guide our work. We also promised to share more specific updates biannually – in November and March – to let you know the steps we are taking. Today, we commit to the following actions, with detailed updates on progress and further steps to be shared in March, as we approach production for the summer season.
We are continually grateful to our audience, artists, and employees for speaking up and holding us accountable.
Anti-Racism Commitments & Actions:
- We will draft a formal acknowledgement of our location on the unceded homeland of the Lenape, Munsee, and Wappinger people, past and present. This acknowledgement will be shared publicly at every first rehearsal, published in our season program and on our website, and prominently displayed at the Tent during performances.
- We will develop an Anti-Racist Code of Conduct, with transparent and available channels of reporting and accountability, to be shared publicly at every first rehearsal, as well as all other onboarding moments, to establish shared expectations and responsibilities for the entire HVSF community.
- The HVSF year-round administrative staff participated in an anti-racism training in the summer of 2020. To build on this work with our leadership, staff, and Board, we will bring in an outside anti-racism consultant, and an annual budget line will be created for ongoing Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) work at the organizational level.
- We will ensure that each rehearsal room will have an outside EDI representative as an anti-racist leader/resource, with training in multi-cultural competency.
- We will continue to hold a regular 90-minute Anti-Racism Accountability Check-In for all year-round staff, and we will adjust rehearsal schedules to ensure that seasonal artists are free to join and participate.
- We will provide anti-racism training, including bystander intervention, de-escalation, and conflict resolution training, to all front-of-house staff, in order to provide the necessary tools to address racism and harm when it happens.
- We will require anti-racism training for all directors, designers, stage managers, intimacy directors and fight choreographers.
- We will provide multi-cultural competency and anti-racism training for wardrobe and costume staff, especially regarding proficiency in styling of Black hair and makeup when working with Black actors.
- We will hire culturally appropriate facilitators for all post-show talkbacks, especially those involving BIPOC stories.
ARTISTIC AND CURATORIAL PRACTICES
- We will produce work on our mainstage that centers BIPOC stories and BIPOC voices. We will work to expand the definition of classical theater beyond the Western canon, while creating productions of Shakespeare that reflect our contemporary American moment in all of its complexity and diversity.
- We will ensure representation of BIPOC artists on all creative teams, and empower those artists to lead in rehearsal rooms, as directors, designers, stage managers, and playwrights.
- We will grow our network of design talent by establishing relationships with BIPOC designers who have not previously worked at HVSF.
- We will ensure that only BIPOC artists will direct BIPOC stories (but not exclusively BIPOC stories) and budget additional resources for any cultural consultants required to honor these stories.
- We will continue the Tent Pole Commissioning program, and commit to at least half of these commissions going to BIPOC artists, as a reflection of our commitment to realize a more inclusive idea of what is “classical” theater.
- Beginning in 2021, we will begin to phase out the use of “10 out of 12” technical rehearsals, to make the production schedule more sustainable for both artists and staff.
TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND GOVERNANCE
- We will establish a dedicated Board EDI Committee, with members representing each of the other Board committees, to facilitate the Board’s support of HVSF’s commitment to anti-racism in all areas of its operations.
- We will publish updated bios for all HVSF Board Members on our website.
- We do not require mandatory minimum gifts for board membership, and we will honor cultural competency, relationship building, and lived experience in continuing to build a diverse and inclusive Board.
- We will post a publicly available version of HVSF’s Annual Budget on our website in March along with the most recently filed Form 990 tax return.
- We will continue to expand the number of Board members who identify as BIPOC, with the goal of Board representation that reflects the populations of the Hudson Valley region we are most immediately called to serve — Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster counties, which are more than 30% BIPOC.
- We will widen our hiring pool for front-of-house seasonal staff by broadening our outreach to community partners as well as local schools and colleges, especially those with significant BIPOC student populations.
- We will continue our established practice to include a transparent salary range for all job postings, and eliminate narrow requirements that may discourage BIPOC candidates from applying.
- We will end the practice of internal hiring or promotion and we will widely publish any opportunities for new or open positions on our staff.
PROFESSIONAL TRAINING PROGRAMS
- We will reimagine our Conservatory Company program in order to make it financially viable for all participants, by increasing compensation to reflect the work on a non-union performance contract.
- We will hire additional professional staff backstage, instead of relying on technical/production interns. We will use this opportunity to reevaluate the technical training we offer and determine a way to create equitable opportunities focused on learning and training.
PRESS, MARKETING, AND ADVERTISING
- We will invest in advertising with independent media.
- We will welcome all media at our shows and will not restrict the number of tickets allocated for press.
This is a living document, intended to grow and evolve as this work continues. We will publish updates on progress and additional steps to be taken in March, as we approach production for the summer season.