“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!” — Carl Sagan
As a Texas raised African American female playwright born to a working class military family, I think about diversity and inclusion all the time. I think about it in terms of absence. What stories aren’t being told? Whose voices aren’t being honored or shared? Who isn’t invited to table? Who isn’t even in the room?
Diversity has been a longstanding value of TCG. And if there’s one thing you should know about the folks at TCG, it’s that they’re serious about practicing their core values. And by serious, I mean they’re taking it to the streets and they’re inviting you to the party.
On June 5th, 2013, TCG will host its first ever Leading the Charge: Diversity and Inclusion Institute in Dallas at the Pre-Conference to the National Conference. What’s more, the conference itself has been focused into four programmatic arcs: Diversity and Inclusion, Audience Engagement, Financial Adaptation and Artistic Innovation.
Both the Diversity and Inclusion Institute and Programmatic Arc will continue the momentum of the TCG Fall Forum. The intent here is to empower attendees with the tools to build diversity and inclusion action plans at their theatres. Not only will the brilliant Carmen Morgan serve as facilitator to the Diversity and Inclusion programmatic arc, but she is also an integral part of the planning for the Pre-Conference. My online blog salon series will support this larger conversation.
The Diversity and Inclusion Institute, Programmatic Arc and Online Blog Salon Objectives:
- Address how theatres can create a culture of inclusivity.
- Empower theatres with the tools to create a culture of diversity within their organizations, throughout the staff, board, artistry (though artistry may come into play in the artistic innovation arc).
- Identify the steps one needs to take before rushing to the ‘let’s get audiences’ part.
- Share diversity strategies and tools for measurement
The Diversity and Inclusion Institute, Programmatic Arc and Online Blog Salon Key themes:
- Diversity Strategies – Models in Action: Breakout sessions focused on diversity strategies, programs and successful models of diversification in theatre and radical, concurrent inclusion.
- Diversity Strategies – Leadership and Vision: Breakout sessions focused on leaders in the field providing perspective on what has worked and what hasn’t worked.
- Using Theatre for Dialogue and Action: Breakout sessions focused on using theatre for dialogue and action around race and difference; theatre programs that foster community building and create lasting connections to diverse populations.
- Theatre, Identity, and Access (Ability, Gender, Youth): Breakout sessions focused on diversity beyond race and culture, including gender equality, youth empowerment and integrating individuals with disabilities.
- Accountability, Goals, and Measurements: Breakout sessions addressing how we set meaningful goals around diversification.
When Dafina McMillan and August Schulenburg asked me to serve as one of the online conference curator, I was honored, overjoyed, and couldn’t wait to get started. You see, ladies and gentlemen, this is where it gets real. This is where we’re going to start formulating our ideas, visions and dreams for “A better world for theatre. A better world because of theatre.” We’re going to dig in deep to some hard and serious questions, so that by June 5th, we’re more than ready dive in and make way for change and growth in the American Theatre.
To start things off, we’re going to re-post a two-part Diversity and Inclusion Series that I hosted on my blog, that explored various ways in which theatre institutions and artists can diversify their audiences, administrative staffs and artistic communities. After that, I’m going to run several new series, including one on Native Theatre and another on How We Define Race, Culture, Heritage and Ethnicity.
Now, here’s the thing, these passionate, powerful and important conversations won’t work without you. So, be sure to watch this site for new posts and get involved in the conversation. If you’re not able to join the conference, that’s okay. We can still connect. You can either write to August Schulenburg or you can reach me here.
PS: If you haven’t watched Katori Hall’s Keynote Address at TCG’s 2012 Fall Forum on Governance: Leading the Charge, treat yourself and get inspired!
Jacqueline E. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener fellow. Her plays include Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; The Devil’s Sweet Water; The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: Love Brothers Serenade, Mad Breed and Our Man Beverly Snow. She has received commissions from Active Cultures Theater, Discovery Theater, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History, Round House Theatre and Theater J. A 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color, she has been nominated for the Wendy Wasserstein Prize and a PONY Fellowship from the Lark New Play Development Center. She resides in Washington DC and is a member of Arena Stage’s Playwrights’ Arena. jacquelinelawton.com