Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA)
Indiana Repertory Theatre: Welcoming the Whole Community
We strive to celebrate and serve the diverse people and cultures that make up our whole community. The IRT is committed to providing access for all; to creating and maintaining an antiracist theatre that is inclusive, safe, and respectful.
Whether you have been coming for years or are here for the first time—welcome to your Theatre!
Over the past four years we have been working with Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) consultant Sarah Bellamy and Access consultant Talleri McRae to discern challenges and opportunities present in our organization around inclusion, diversity, equity, and access.
We want to thank the hundreds of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) artists and administrators who gifted our field with WeSeeYouWhiteAmericanTheatre. Their vision, courage, and labor has illuminated important BIPOC perspectives on how we can be a more inclusive theatre.
The following Values, Commitments, and Actions are the result of deep reflection and community conversation guided by expert analysis. Their aim is movement forward, not perfection, and we will amend as we learn and grow.
- Our community thrives when diverse voices and peoples gather to make, watch, and support theatre.
- It is our responsibility as a community resource to open our doors wide, welcoming all to our high-quality, relevant art.
- We must acknowledge our history of privilege as a predominantly White institution in order to effectively support dismantling systems of oppression.
- In order to be an antiracist and inclusive organization we must seek knowledge and understanding to identify discriminatory practices and increase cultural awareness in collaboration with, and learning directly from, BIPOC, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex (LGBTQI+), functionally diverse, and other historically excluded communities.
- We will represent and engage the diverse people, cultures, and communities of central Indiana.
- We will employ more people of color and foster an inclusive culture of artists, staff, board, and vendors.
- We will deepen our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) training for all board and staff.
- We will be accessible to all audiences inviting those who have been unheard or unseen in the past, including people with disabilities, BIPOC, LGBTQI+, and under-resourced communities.
Following are a set of actions that are meant to make tangible the values and commitments stated above. These actions are grouped into categories that mirror the IRT’s Strategic Plan, developed by staff and board IDEA committees over 18 months in 2020-2021. Progress will be reviewed and evaluated at regular intervals, but at least annually (from a data perspective as well as from an experiential perspective) by the staff and board IDEA committees which include the executive leadership of both staff and board. This is a living document. As we grow and learn, we will continue to add new actions and report on the actions we have completed.
OUR RECENT WORK
- We formalized our ongoing commitment to our IDEA values by creating the INclusion Series in 2019, which commits a third of our programming to telling stories written by and centering the lives of underrepresented communities including the BIPOC, functionally diverse, and LGBTQI+ communities.
- In 2020, we committed to ensuring that at least one half of all creative teams identify as people of color and include a diversity of gender and sexual identities.
- In 2018, we designated all-gender restrooms in our work spaces and renovated public spaces.
- In 2020, we committed to eliminating the industry standard “10 hours out of 12 hours” technical rehearsal schedule, shortening the work days during the final week of rehearsal.
OUR CONTINUED WORK
- Build an anonymous feedback form for visiting artists to provide space for critical feedback on IDEA issues. Feedback will be shared with IDEA committees to inform the Theatre’s culture, policies, and procedures.
- Hire a BIPOC casting director to work alongside the in-house casting office to cast BIPOC shows.
OUR RECENT WORK:
- Created new Sensory Friendly performance series in 2017 and continued to support audio described and ASL (American Sign Language) performances.
- Joined the Access Pass program in 2018, offering $2 tickets to families utilizing state assistance.
- In 2018, we expanded post-show discussion platforms to feature BIPOC speakers and community members in order to share diverse perspectives on productions and relevant community issues.
- Created a land and building acknowledgement in 2019 to acknowledge and pay respect to those who have been historically excluded or upon whose land we live and work.
- In 2021, hired minority and woman-owned public relations and marketing firm Herd Strategies to deepen community engagement efforts with BIPOC audiences, reestablish relationships with BIPOC media businesses, and ensure that representation and voice in external marketing is authentic and respectful to audiences.
OUR CONTINUED WORK
- Prominently place Land and Indiana Theatre Building acknowledgements in our lobbies and programs and include verbal acknowledgements in all full company and board meetings.
- Review our front of house policies and make necessary changes including mandatory annual antibias and antiracist training for our Front of House staff and volunteer ushers.
- Add closed captioning services to performances.
- Create a plan to build an all-gender restroom in our historic Indiana Theatre Grand lobby.
STAFF TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
- In 2018, implemented biannual antiracism and antibias training with IDEA consultant Sarah Bellamy.
- Instituted identifying pronouns in meetings in 2018 as well as on email signatures to best respect the gender identities of staff, artists, and patrons.
- Created a staff IDEA committee in 2020 to ensure staff feedback and guidance is incorporated into IDEA values and commitments.
- Dedicated a portion of all staff and company meetings to reading a common text and discussing it in small groups. (2020-2021 text was Dr. Ibram X Kendi’s How to be an Anti-racist)
- To honor and value the labor of our staff as we engage in IDEA work, all staff training, community conversations, and committee work is paid work.
- Continue regular staff and board antiracist training to create a safer space for BIPOC folks and to encourage and support the work of practicing allyship.
- Maintain IDEA training as a core part of onboarding new staff members.
- Continue to convene and support the IDEA staff committee.
- Continue staff discussions related to antiracism through a staff communal reading.
- Create a staff IDEA resource library to ensure access points for continued learning.
- Encourage and support the formation of staff identity-based affinity spaces. We want to ensure all employees feel safe to work, create, and voice instances of racism or bias they may experience or witness at the Theatre.
- Continue to remain current as culture shifts and new language emerges and work to update our language in order to best serve, respect, and empower our communities.
- Created a board IDEA committee in 2019 to build support for our continued work.
- Reviewed hiring processes including postings, job descriptions, and recruitment efforts to create more inclusive language.
- Expanded the places we post job openings and the methods we use to recruit staff.
- In order to be more inclusive, clearly identified our commitment to hiring, supporting, and retaining a diverse workforce. (Auditions and Employment)
- Conduct a full review of our staff and artists to better understand our demographics and take intentional steps to expand overall inclusion.
- Diversify our board with the goal of reaching at least 42% BIPOC representation by 2030 and increase representation from LGBTQI+ and functionally diverse communities to better reflect our whole community.
- Continue to convene and support the IDEA Board Committee. Create a budget line for staff IDEA training and commit to funding this line annually.
- In 2019, began establishing connections with local leaders for our future Community Council.
- Acknowledged the unjust history of Predominantly White Institutions, extracting audiences and resources from communities of color. As we build relationships, we commit to supporting our partnership work by asking for what support is desired, not in exchange for support, and amplifying these organizations.
- In 2021, create the new position of Director of Education and Community Partnerships to join our senior staff and lead our multigenerational partnerships work.
- Create a Community Council composed of a diverse cross-section of central Indiana’s community leaders and residents.
- Build relationships and develop partnerships with historically excluded vendors in all areas of our work in order to improve representation, partnership, and distribution of resources.
- Develop meaningful relationships with local organizations who support and/or are composed of BIPOC, LGBTQI+ and functionally diverse people.
This information was updated and approved by the IRT Board of Directors on September 2, 2021.