Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

There is a movement in the Michigan theatre community to address long standing inequities and unreasonable expectations of artists in the theatre industry. Artists are coming together to collectively set expectations to create more nurturing and inclusive workspaces.

We at the Williamston Theatre say yes, and.

The four founders and the organization’s staff are not just arts administrators, we are also artists, parents, children, and partners. We don’t ascribe to the old adage of “suffering for your art.” We also know that a diverse representation of voices creates better art. It is a service to our audiences and to the sustainability of our organization to embrace the effort that individual artists across the state have begun.

Most of the conditions that are being discussed are things we already achieve in our daily operating. However, there are areas where we are actively working to improve, even though we are currently closed due to the pandemic. We join with our artist-colleagues in this collective process of improvement, and pledge to continue to improve in all areas in order to create a supportive and inclusive work space for all.

We pledge to uphold the following standards:

  • Include a public-facing land acknowledgement, whether it is included in the curtain speech, a note in the program, and/or posted in the lobby.
  • Provide the Director and all Designers with the playscript at time of offer and allow two weeks for the Director/Designers to read and consider the play before the Director/Designer is expected to accept the position.
  • Provide Director with the playscript license before casting begins about what is allowed in terms of casting related to identity.
  • Involve the Director in all precasting decisions.
  • Allow the Director to contribute to the list of actors brought in for callbacks.
  • Hire at least one director or designer for each season who identifies as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, or any marginalized racial identity and at least one director or designer for that season who identifies as a woman, trans, non-binary, or any other underrepresented gender identity.
  • Choose flexibility and open communication when it comes to the needs of artists who need to care for children, elders, or any family member. Accommodating their needs will lead to increased retention of those artists who often come from under-hired/underrepresented groups in the theatre.
  • Prior to the start of the production, check in with all artists involved in the production regarding whether a “10 out of 12” tech rehearsal is possible given their outside work and family needs. Be open to adjusting the tech schedule based on those needs.
    • Require a dry tech for director, designers, and stage manager to facilitate a shorter tech day, without requiring extra hours/labor for the stage manager (unless it includes additional pay.)
  • Post contact info for the AEA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer for our region.
  • As issues around bodies and hair are intensely personal, the producer should coordinate an early conversation between the hair/costume designer and actors that is done with empathy and care and centers the actor’s needs and perspectives. This conversation should happen between the first and second production meeting. The actor should have the option to request that a third person be present for the meeting. This could be the director, stage manager, AEA deputy, a fellow actor, a personal stylist, etc.
    • Provide a budget line item specifically for hair and make-up, as actors are often burdened with providing their own supplies, which disproportionately impacts women and especially Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all Women of Color. Hair budget should include products, salon or stylist visits, possible hair consultant, hair touch-ups
    • Provide budget line for salon services or wig/hair designer if costume designer is unable to appropriately design or provide guidance in styling
  • Provide support for artists who need to pump breast milk, including a private space with a lockable door, accessible outlet, a chair, a place to refrigerate milk, and extended break times.