Anti-racism at Aurora Theatre Company
Theatre is a space of shared imagination. A space where stories allow us to relive and reexamine our past, and envision bold new futures. Theatre allows us the opportunity to step outside the boundaries of our own lived experience to gain greater understanding of our shared humanity -- to build compassion, empathy, and solidarity.
CONFRONTING AND DISMANTLING OPPRESSION:
AURORA’S COMMITMENTS AND ACTIONS
In 2020, Aurora announced a series of commitments toward confronting and dismantling oppression in our organization. We released our first report on those commitments in February of 2021. Below are our ongoing biannual reports.
Here are the steps Aurora has taken and the commitments we make in the service of dismantling the systems that feed racism, anti-Blackness, and other forms of oppression:
IN OUR COMMUNITY
- We will continue our Community Partners program, which builds meaningful two-way relationships with new segments of our community, leading to more authenticity in our work, new audiences in our theatre, and new representation in our Advisory Council and eventually on our board.
IN OUR LOBBY
- Our Theatre For Everyone statement, posted in our lobby and on our website, is intended to encourage a culture free from microaggressions in our lobby, theatre, and online so that everyone feels welcome in our space.
- We will continue regular anti-bias and anti-oppression training for front-of-house staff, including bystander intervention training.
- We have created clear guidelines for front-of-house staff for responding to microaggressions, racist behavior, and questions about our policies, and we will continue to update and revise these guidelines based on new learning and information.
- We will continue the conversation begun and act on the discoveries made in our in-person and virtual Welcome To Our Space?: Town Halls On Audience Interactions, exploring what theatres can do to discourage microaggressions, including microaggressions among our audience members.
ON OUR STAGE
- Our updated anti-racism and anti-harassment policy sheet is shared with all artists and production staff, and discussed at the first production meeting and first rehearsal as well as in the onboarding process for new Aurora hires. We have improved and clarified our system for reporting instances of harassment and oppression.
- At least three of the six plays we produce each season will be written by BIPOC playwrights.
- We will continue our commitment that at least three of the six plays we produce each season will be written by women.
- We will continue our commitment that at least three of the six plays we produce each season will be directed by women.
- We will actively seek out plays by transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming playwrights.
- We will continue to commission and develop scripts by BIPOC playwrights.
- We will increase the percentage of BIPOC designers and production staff working on our productions.
- We will continue our longstanding policy of "favored nations" for our artists, paying the same rate to each actor, the same rate to each director, and the same rate to each designer, regardless of union status.
IN OUR ORGANIZATION
- In the 2022/2023 Season, every new board member will increase the board’s racial, ethnic, or gender diversity. Additionally, we will work with our community to develop and implement strategies to further diversify our board.
- We have eliminated the minimum financial contribution for board members and will continue to work to diversify the board across socioeconomic lines, making the board more representative of our whole community.
- We will continue regular anti-bias and anti-oppression training for our staff and board.
- We have replaced the phrase “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” with “Confronting and Dismantling Oppression” throughout our organization, to reflect that this work is an active, intentional, and ongoing process.
- We will continue holding monthly Community CDO meetings, with participation from staff, board, leadership, artists, and Advisory Council.
- We have created a Confronting and Dismantling Oppression Task Force composed of staff and board members, including the Artistic and Managing Directors and a member of the board Executive Committee. The Task Force meets monthly to set priorities, allocate funding, and implement plans for Aurora’s CDO work, with inspiration from the We See You White American Theatre demands and the Bay Area Accountability Workgroup.
- We report on and discuss anti-racism and anti-oppression activities as a regular part of our staff and board meetings.
- We will view our strategic planning process through an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens, and will include a section on anti-racism and anti-oppression in our new strategic plan.
- In July 2020, we adopted a new mission and values statement that includes a commitment to anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices.
- We will review and revise our employee handbook and all internal policies through an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens.
- We commit to a continuous evaluation of our job posting language and hiring policies, to foster an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens in all of our hiring practices.
- We commit to demonstrating more transparency on how our values are manifested in our work, beginning with making our audit reports easily accessible on our website and continuing with posting our overall annual budget.
- Artistic Director Josh Costello and Co-Managing Directors Robin Dolan and Nicole Elise Schultz commit to listening without exhibiting defensive behavior when we are called out for failing to embody anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices.
- Josh, Robin, and Nicole commit to not using our fear of getting it wrong as an excuse to stay silent.
- We commit to reviewing and evaluating our progress at least twice each year and sharing the results publicly, holding ourselves accountable to the commitments in this list
- Aurora Commitments Report October 2023
Aurora Commitments Report February 2023
Aurora Commitments Report August 2022
Aurora Commitments Report February 2022
Aurora Commitments Report August 2021
Aurora Commitments Report February 2021
ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT
- BIPOC Demands for White American Theatre | We See You WAT (2020)
“America’s Racial Contract Is Killing Us” by Adam Serwer | Atlantic (May 8, 2020)
- “The Intersectionality Wars” by Jane Coaston | Vox (May 28, 2019)
- Tips for Creating Effective White Caucus Groups developed by Craig Elliott PhD
- ”White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh
- “Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi | Atlantic (May 12, 2020)
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (Seal Press, 2019)
- Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi (Bold Type Books, 2017)
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (New Press, 2010)
- When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors Asha Bandele (St. Martin’s Press, 2018)
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum (Basic Books, 2017)
TO WATCH AND LISTEN
- 1619 (New York Times)
- About Race
- Intersectionality Matters! hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw
- Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
- Pod For The Cause (from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights)
- Pod Save the People (Crooked Media)
- The Combahee River Collective Statement
Movies and TV
- 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
- Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
- Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
- I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
- If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
- Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent
- See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
- Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
- The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
- When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix