Framing Statement Progress Report Update:
August 20, 2021
Dear friends and colleagues,
As our staff prepares to welcome you back into our theaters for performances in person, we are compelled to write to you again about McCarter’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA), and Antiracism.
Last October, McCarter released a public Framing Statement in response to the “We See You White American Theater” movement and demands, outlining our commitment to creating a more equitable working environment, areas of potential growth as an organization, and a promise of accountability in our EDIA efforts. In the spirit of that accountability, the staff has reviewed and endorsed the progress report below, which details the steps we’ve taken in the last year to move McCarter forward. We fully acknowledge that the progress we’ve made is just the start of our greater journey within the work to create an antiracist organization, and that this work is always ongoing and never complete. We commit to continue learning, growing, adjusting, and being in conversation with our communities around our EDIA and antiracism efforts.
See you soon.
McCarter EDIA & Antiracism Progress Report
Since our last public update, the McCarter staff have taken the following actions on our journey to improving Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Antiracism as an institution:
❖ After conducting a formal search led by the staff EDIA Committee, McCarter hired Dr. Ebony Cain and Dr. Erica Hamilton to conduct a nine-week antiracism training for all staff members. Dr. Cain and Dr. Hamilton teach at Pepperdine University and California State University, respectively, and have worked together as researchers, writers, and workshop facilitators for over ten years. This training occurred once a week from March 2021 through May 2021 and attendance was mandatory for all staff members employed at that time. The EDIA Committee continues conversations around instituting further training for new staff members hired after May 2021, as well as regularly occurring workshops for the staff who initially participated in the training.
❖ In March 2021, McCarter issued a survey to its Board of Trustees to gauge their current understanding of McCarter’s EDIA work and progress. Subsequently, a Board EDIA Committee was formed and held its first meeting in May 2021; the Committee was officially ratified as a standing committee of the board at the June meeting of the full Board of Trustees. The Board EDIA Committee is currently reviewing options for mandatory Board antiracism training and larger strategic plans for Board and staff joint EDIA projects.
❖ As executive leadership and the Board of Trustees drafted a new strategic plan for McCarter, “justice”, “belonging”, and EDIA work were identified as core values of the institution to be specifically named in our values and long-term strategic planning. In collaboration with The Additive Agency, leadership held listening sessions with community members, staff, and other key stakeholders to develop a strategic plan, which was then reviewed thoroughly by the staff and Board Strategic Planning Committee. The strategic plan will be brought to a vote this fall and will be made available shortly thereafter for public review.
❖ Expanding upon the antiracism training the staff received, Dr. Cain and Dr. Hamilton conducted a three-week Inclusive Hiring workshop with McCarter hiring managers, with a focus on creating a more equitable hiring process. The written procedures generated from this workshop were then shared and reviewed by the full staff for transparency and consistency; hiring manager will follow these procedures moving forward and are implement the procedures as we re-hire our workforce at present. The EDIA Committee continues to review equitable onboarding practices for new and returning staff.
❖ In June 2021, McCarter officially launched its search for a Director of Equity and Organizational Culture. This department head-level staff position will oversee EDIA, antiracism, and efforts to shift our culture across the organization. With a focus on accountability, assessment, implementation, and facilitation, the Director of Equity and Organizational Culture will intersect with every department at McCarter. This position will lead their own department of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Antiracism, with Human Resources falling into their direct purview; this alignment will allow Human Resources practices to be informed by our EDIA efforts in earnest. Executive leadership is currently interviewing candidates with the goal of having the position filled before McCarter’s first public performance on September 24, 2021.
❖ McCarter has crafted a Code of Conduct for patrons, artists, students, and staff in order to provide a welcoming, safe, and enjoyable experience for all who enter our venues. McCarter Theatre Center stands firmly against racism, hatred, bigotry, and discrimination, and we welcome everyone to join us in fostering a community of respect, kindness, and inclusion. You can read our Code of Conduct here.
❖ A contingent of McCarter representatives (1 Trustee and 2 staff members) participated in Learning to Applied Practice: Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression, an antiracism training designed and facilitated by Yancey Consulting and sponsored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation as an extension to its commitment to becoming an antiracist organization in New Jersey. The Dodge Foundation is a major supporter of McCarter. The cohort joined a five-month collective journey designed to provide tools and prioritized action plans to ground organizations’ understanding in anti-racism and anti-oppression concepts, build empathy and relational bridges, and catalyze commitment into transformative action. Connecting with other organizations supported by the Dodge Foundation, the McCarter cohort brought materials and concepts back to the staff and board in support of the larger push for institutional antiracism training.
❖ The Board Nominating Committee recruited and ratified one of the most diverse classes of incoming Trustees in McCarter’s history, bringing in a wide range of identity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and field of expertise. For this upcoming fiscal year, Trustees who self-identify as a person of color increased from 31% to 39%.
While these items encompass some of the larger progress the organization has made, it does not and cannot fully represent the individual work staff members are conducting to make their departments, roles, and community engagement more equitable and antiracist. McCarter continues to support staff members who engage in community learning with other arts organizations and antiracist organizations across the country.
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Original Staff Framing Statement: October 13, 2020
McCarter Staff Framing Statement
❖ Our committee meets on a weekly basis, now actively participated in by the majority of our staff. Within that group, we are engaged in an in-depth, departmentally-intersectional review and discussion of the demands of the We See You, White American Theatre movement. This process helps us identify the problematic structures and practices at McCarter's foundation and gives us a framework for how we want to address problems proactively.