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This summer has seen American theaters rightly called to account for their history of racism, and their exclusion of BIPOC artists and administrators from true equality and equity in our field. 

The leadership, staff and board of Olney Theatre Center for the Arts are challenged, inspired and creatively charged by demands for justice being made in our sector, in particular those demands made by BIPOC artists and their allies.  We freely recognize the harm OTC has caused historically to individuals in BIPOC communities through its support of inherently racist and white supremacist structures, and our failures to make change.  We hear you now, and commit to hearing you going forward, and making changes based on what we hear .

The COVID-19 pandemic has given all of us an opportunity to reflect on that harm, and commit to changes we must make institutionally and individually.  On October 9 - the day we launched JUST ARTS: A CELEBRATION OF ARTS AND ACTIVISM - we finished the first draft of a statement of priorities. After our internal and external EDIA committees, senior staff, and BIPOC artist cohort have completed their reviews of the document, we'll publish those priorities here. You can expect to see that list of priorities soon after we conclude our process of consulting with key stakeholders.    

Our process in creating these action steps has been months-long and multi-pronged.The process has included:

  • Staff- and Board-level EDIA committee meetings and practice reviews

  • Paid listening session with BIPOC artists with whom we’ve worked, with followup to come upon creation of the draft action steps

  • Cultural competency work with staff and Board

  • Working sessions with Senior Staff and the Board’s Executive Committee, with particular focus on the WE SEE YOU W.A.T. list of demands

  • All-Staff meeting on anti-racist and anti-harassment practices.

The work we’ve done and will continue to do has been guided by our values: 

  • Because we believe that inclusion drives innovation, we know our theater and our community will be made better and more impactful by taking these steps.

  •  Because we believe the essence of good artistry is collaboration, we will continue this anti-racist work with input from freelance artists and community members.

  • Because we believe challenging ourselves is essential to creating impactful work, we will accept feedback with humility.

  •  And because we believe that pursuing our values requires an ongoing process of reflection, training and application, we recognize these steps are just the beginning.

We encourage you to read the rest of OTC’s values here.

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