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A Letter to our Community
Update: October 20, 2020
Over the past several months, we have embarked on a deep dive into who we are as an arts organization, where we’ve been, and who we aspire to be. Our mission is to present theatre with a social conscience, and in doing so, we are taking a thoughtful look into our own actions and plans to address systemic racism.
We acknowledge the work we have done has not been not a sufficient representation of the beautifully diverse landscape of our artists, playwrights, and lived experiences of our BIPOC community. We are working on a plan that will not only address developing and revising internal policies and practices, but one that will also reflect these changes in our productions, education, and community engagement work.
In the meantime, our staff has participated in implicit and unconscious bias training, and we are continuing to have honest and constructive conversations to advance our anti-racism work. Likewise, our Board of Directors is discussing how their support can expand on our current programs to better represent our anti-racist practices. Both employees and board members continue to attend and participate in various trainings, conferences, and conversations surrounding racial equity and representation in the arts and how to be a better partner within our community.
Although we are unable to open our doors due to the pandemic, we are proud to showcase in our windows beautiful portraits of just a small fraction of lives taken too soon and an array of quotes with messages of hope and growth for the Black community from plays and musicals previously produced on our stage.
June 3, 2020
Theatre is a cultural phenomenon that demands society examine itself in the mirror. Throughout history, the arts have served as a record of, a testament to, and inspiration for what should be the collective human condition and its vast spectrum of emotions, people, and experiences. However, when what we see reflects primarily one story rather than the vast array, we have failed to honor theatre’s intended purpose and have committed a disservice to artists and audiences everywhere. We create the future every moment the lights go up. We are responsible.
Black. Lives. Matter. Full stop.
Broadly, there is extensive under-representation of people of color in the theatre—on stage, off stage, in seats, behind the scenes, and in administrative offices. We must own that. As arts organizations, we must acknowledge our own inadequacies. We must learn—and un-learn—whatever is necessary to redress the pervasive overt and covert racial inequalities that afflict our country. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is no exception.
We support our communities far and wide in the Black Lives Matter protests and share the outrage over the egregious injustices against people of color that have been—and continue to be—committed since and leading up to our nation’s founding. Whether these abuses are manifested through explicit acts of violence, suspicion, and fear or are revealed in racial inequities that permeate other aspects of daily life, such as the disproportionate effects the COVID pandemic has had on the Black community, a reckoning is long overdue.
We see you. We are listening. And we must do better.
Words are not remotely enough, though. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is working on meaningful, substantive actions to take in supporting current anti-racism advocacy as well as to address the under-representation of people of color within our company while incorporating all voices. We will share these measures in the coming weeks and months ahead and how to be involved. For anyone who would like to participate in these conversations, we welcome you wholeheartedly. We recognize, though, this too is emotional labor and do not expect anyone else to lead this charge on our behalf. The responsibility of institutional change rests squarely upon our organization.
In the meantime, we encourage you to donate to and support organizations and efforts that champion racial equality and justice in whatever way you can and to review resources that advance this urgent conversation.
D. Lynn Meyers
Producing Artistic Director