May 25 Update:
We offer these updates in support of accountability and transparency. Also, at the bottom of this page, under “June 2020” you will find the commitments we made at that time, followed by some helpful resources.
Since our last update in March of this year, our action items include:
- Continued weekly meetings of our EDI & AR Committee, in intensive review of WeSeeYouWhiteAmericanTheatre, supporting many of the following actions.
- A decision to eliminate 10 out of 12 (hour) tech rehearsals from our schedule,
- Increased pay for our interns, and realistic understudy preparations,
- Plans to create space and time for affinity group meetings for employees this summer,
- In a season distilled in scope by necessity, a majority BIPOC AEA cast for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, our one large-cast AEA production this summer,
- A Young Company of nearly half BIPOC artists,
- An overall seasonal acting company of nearly half BIPOC artists, closing in on the WSYWAT-proposed goal of 50/50, and toward our goal of an increasingly diverse PSF team,
- Increased resourcing for projects authored/curated by BIPOC folks, and resourced according to the needs of the production,
- Circulating a survey to seasonal employees (600+) from the past five years seeking feedback on the Festival’s strengths and weaknesses in equity, diversity, and inclusion,
- An all-Black creative team (director, designers) for August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned,
- Increased diversity among creative teams,
- The formation of a team to respond in communications to national events which overlap with or share a common boundary with our mission and work,
- Land acknowledgement on every page of our website, in curtain speeches, and other communications,
- The addition of pronouns, and a link to learn more, to our staff email signatures.
Other actions not captured in the March 26 update:
- a summer season of seven total offerings, three of which are authored/curated by BIPOC playwrights/artists,
- The addition of Christopher V. Edwards to our team as Distinguished Artist & Consultant.
A sampling of near-term actions anticipated for our summer season:
- Trainings for summer staff and volunteers,
- Creating a diverse team of summer EDI officers who staff can turn to with concerns,
- Measures to relieve some of the “show must go on” pressures
- Conversations with campus public safety in service of an experience of inclusion for our summer staff.
Our EDI-AR Committee is comprised of the following people:
Scott Blair, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, DeSales University
Rosalyn Coleman Williams, Actor
Anelise Diaz, Education Director
Megan Diehl, Advancement and Communications Manager
Christopher V. Edwards, Distinguished Artist & Consultant
Casey Gallagher, Managing Director
Kaia L. Merrell, Associate Lighting Designer
Gabe Moses, Young Company Actor/DSU student
Patrick Mulcahy, Producing Artistic Director
Joshua Rose, Director of Production
Kyle Schumaker, Box Office Manager
Mark Yowakim, Young Company Actor/DSU student
Please check back periodically on our progress, which will also hopefully be evident in your interactions with PSF.
(Why share pronouns? https://www.mypronouns.org/what-and-why)
March 26, Update:
We offer this update in support of accountability and transparency. Below you will find the commitments we made back in June 2020, followed by some resources. Since then, our actions have included:
- multi-faceted anti-racism trainings for our staff,
- the formation of both an internal and extended EDI & AR Committee, the latter of which meets weekly towards the development and implementation of an Anti-racism Plan,
- resolutions by our Board, Executive Committee, and Strategic Planning Committees that PSF has no greater strategic priority than EDI & AR,
- the formation and activation of our new Programming Committee that seeks to center EDI-AR considerations in season selection,
- and the selection of a more multi-cultural season this summer, even in a distilled season of offerings, that will feature new voices, new stories, new artists.
With renewed focus and action, our previous efforts to diversify our Board are now gaining greater momentum, and each Board meeting includes discussion, updates, or presentations in support of this work and our growth as an organization. The same is true for our weekly staff meetings. In this stage of our deepening development, these actions are a beginning.
A sampling of near-term anticipated actions includes:
- training for summer seasonal staff and volunteers,
- continued Board and staff diversification,
- inclusion of a land acknowledgement in our curtain speeches and other communications,
- careful selection of, and interrogation of, the texts/scripts we produce (screening for harmful content),
- surveying previous seasonal staff members for their experiences and observations in their time at PSF,
- employing energy and systems to create inclusion and ensuring appropriate working conditions going forward.
Please feel free to check back periodically on our progress, which will also hopefully be evident in your interactions with PSF.
From its founding, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, its leaders, artists, and staff, have held that our purpose as a theatre includes promoting an experience of shared humanity. Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s mission statement begins with: “to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience with first-rate professional productions…”
“The widest possible audience” is intended and interpreted as plain language. We believe that Shakespeare’s insights into human experience are a gift to all humanity, and our mission is to share this gift with the widest possible audience.
Our commitments to action in support of equity, diversity, and inclusion include:
Learn, listen, grow, evolve, share;
Proactively combat racism, conduct ongoing anti-racism training for our staff and other constituencies, and advance anti-racist principles throughout our operations;
Investigate solutions to financial barriers that help keep inequitable systems in place in the not-for-profit sector;
Deepen our commitment to diversifying our staff, Board, artists, and artisans, and support our Black, Brown, Indigenous and other PSF family members who are People of Color;
Deepen the diversity of the voices and stories reflected on our stages, so that our work will better reflect the cultural breadth of our region and our nation.
To these commitments we are accountable, and our actions are on-going.
If every theatre company, arts organization, business, school, agency, etc., in the country commits to creating change, safety, and a sense of shared humanity, imagine the possibilities.
Questions? Observations? We would welcome your input. Please send your thoughts in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a small staff, even smaller of late, and yet we will endeavor to respond. Each email will be read. Your input is valued.
These lists reflect this moment in the Festival’s learning and evolution. These resources will expand as we continue to put our commitments into action.