Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Writers Theatre
At Writers Theatre (WT), we stand together against racism, and for justice and equality. We are committed to listening and learning and are invested in the work critical to change, in order to ensure an equitable society for all, especially for those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
We hold ourselves accountable. We are dedicated to a continuous in-depth, organization-wide assessment of our policies and ways of working that involves the staff, board and community members. Together, we are working to improve existing policies and implement new practices that reaffirm that racism, harassment and discrimination have no place at WT.
The following actions are designed to improve and amplify our commitment to more diverse perspectives on-stage and off-stage, from the rehearsal room to the boardroom, for and with our community partners. Our path forward is inclusive and collaborative.
As part of this journey, WT's staff and board continue to review the We See You, White American Theater document and have been guiding many conversations towards organizational examination and change. Many of the steps we share below have been inspired by and guided by this important document.
- WT’s Code of Conduct, published in 2018, includes our equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) values and our affirmation to make artistic, administrative and interpersonal decisions that are firmly rooted in EDI best practices. The Code of Conduct is a living document and will be reviewed and refined as part of our assessment process to ensure it fully reflects the anti-racist stance of WT. For the full Code of Conduct shared on our website, click here.
- WT will continue to invest in the creation and production of BIPOC stories from BIPOC storytellers with a heightened focus on the casting and play selection process, commissions and creative teams.
- We will focus on greater representation from BIPOC and other under-represented communities across all departments by focusing on recruitment and hiring of staff, especially our leadership team, and our board of trustees.
- We are expanding upon our anti-racism training for the board and staff with more internal, in-depth instruction and defined, consistent and measurable institution-wide EDI and anti-racism goals and initiatives.
- We will continue to actively engage with our internal Workplace Culture and Anti-Racism Working Group (WCARWG) for the further advancement of WT’s EDI work. The WCARWG was created in May 2020 and includes members of WT’s staff with representation from each department.
- We will continue to support and strengthen our engagement with WT’s affinity groups, The BIPOC Cohort and Women at WT.
- The BIPOC Cohort’s mission is to provide “a place for BIPOC staff and artists to come discuss their experience working at Writers Theatre, where we have a space to share observations and reflect on how the institution can fulfill its value of being a non-racist institution.” Artists and staff are invited to join the bi-weekly meetings on site, and online while working remotely.
- Women at Writers is “an affinity group for female identifying persons to discuss, collaborate, and find camaraderie on topics that interest and affect us.” Artists and staff are invited to join the monthly meetings online.
- Before the pandemic, staff was also in the process of creating an affinity group for LGBTQIA staff and has created a mission statement for this group. Work to re-engage this group is in process.
- We are active participants of the Glencoe Council for Inclusion and Community, which is charged with community engagement initiatives on racism, social equity and community building and healing.
- WT has engaged The Walker Thomas Group to provide EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), De-escalation and Anti-Racism training which began in May 2021.
- WT is working to update and improve the standardization of hiring practices and onboarding materials.
- In the interest of transparency, WT commits to informing prospective guest artists of who else is currently contracted on a project when making offers by updating our reference checking policy and implementing a communication procedure to prospective guest artists.
- WT will offer a 5-day rehearsal week for all productions. We will continue to avoid the use of "10 out of 12s" during technical rehearsals, which we eliminated in 2007.
- WT has incorporated a Land Acknowledgement, guided by our partnership with members of the Chicago greater metropolitan area's Native American Community. We will be investing in creating work centering around the narratives of Native Americans.
- WT recently completely revamped its board recruitment process, including new access points, to improve the diversity of the board and amplify more voices.
- WT commits to a conversation with the playwright, director and lead creatives on targeted audience outreach and community engagement programming for each production.
- WT now offers audio-described performances upon request as a part of our comprehensive Accessibility Services.
Updated July 2022