Framing Statement Progress Report Update:
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. 


Sarah Rasmussen

Artistic Director, McCarter Theatre Center

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 venuesMcCarter 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-Oppressionan 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 



Dear friends and colleagues 


I hope this finds you well! I am in my first few months as Artistic Directorand while I’m still getting to know you, I’d like to begin a conversation with you that is essential to McCarter’s next chapter.  


Over the last few months, McCarter staff has formed a committee around equity, eschewing hierarchy and traditional leadership structure in an effort to lift consensus and teamwork. Meeting weekly, the committee is actively working to address challenges in the workplace, as well as the demands released by the We See You, White American Theater movement earlier this summer I appreciate and want to honor the non-hierarchical ethos of the committee, while also balancing my public-facing role as an artistic leader, as I am having conversations on a regular basis about McCarter’s process and commitment to this work.  


McCarter Theatre Center needs to do the work internally before officially announcing action steps around the We See You, White American Theater demands and the organization-wide commitment to centering anti-racismWe believe we could unintentionally cause more harm as a predominately white institution if we rush to respond without deep understanding and acknowledgment of the ways our culture and systems have impacted the Black, Indigenous, and people of color on our staff, stages, and in our audiences. And at the same time, we feel a deep urgency to respond to the We See You, White American Theater movement to say: Thank you for this labor, and the gift of this document. We are in process. We will be transparent about the process. We are holding ourselves accountable, and ask our local and national communities to hold us accountable as well. 


As part of that commitment to accountability, I recently offered our staff committee a draft statement that we could reflect on together. Something that we could use to frame where we are currently, where we have been, and where we hope to grow together. In that spirit, the staff has refined and endorsed the statement below; much of their work is reflected here. We look forward to engaging with youupdating you on our commitments around this work, and continuing conversations that will keep us accountable. 

Sarah Rasmussen

Artistic Director, McCarter Theatre Center


McCarter Staff Framing Statement


McCarter Theatre Center  is a predominantly white institution, which has long held Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility as core values;  diversity being most consciously and actively expressed through the art presented on our stages.
We have both explicitly and implicitly upheld and supported structures of systemic racism. We acknowledge the long history of this culture in our organization and are working to create an infrastructure that reduces, disrupts, and ultimately alleviates this harm in the future. 
In this moment, our stages and theaters are empty due to the coronavirus pandemic.  While this is a deep challenge for our organization in many ways, it also offers a crucial opportunity to acknowledge how we as an organization have upheld white supremacy. We must take this moment to engage in the work of changing our culture, systems, and strategic plans to become the anti-racist organization we aspire to be.  We know we cannot go back to the old ways of working.  
We are also in the midst of another major change, as we are a few months into new artistic leadership. 
We feel a great urgency to take action around building an anti-racist culture. We also feel a deep responsibility to listen to BIPOC voices on our staff, acknowledge the harm that has occurred in our theater both past and present, attend to that harm, and move forward in an informed and sustainable way.   

We are holding ourselves responsible to do the work. We desire to be transparent with you and will continue to ask you to hold us responsible as well. 

At this point, we would like to share the following actions: 

❖ Our c
ommittee 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. 
 We are in the process of hiring anti-racism consultants for mandatory training for staff, visiting staff, and board members. In the meantime, the staff has committed to attending anti-racism training sessions through artEquity. 


❖ We are compensating staff for the anti-racist training they are individually participating in.  
❖ A BIPOC staff affiliate group has formed in the last few months to provide a space for BIPOC staff to discuss their experiences.  
❖ Conversations continue with the new McCarter leadership and Board about centering values of anti-racism in all strategic planning moving forward. 
❖ We are engaging in a conscious effort to include diverse representation in all forms of our programming. 


❖ We commit to publicly sharing our response to the We See You, White American Theater demands, in addition to our action steps as an organization.  
❖ Waspire to be an essential creative partner to our communities. We invite conversation, feedback, and your thoughts as we proceed. We know we are imperfect in this work, but we are committed to creating a culture of respect, grace, and learning.   


❖ We also humbly share that we aspire to find joy in this work. Stories have the power to bring us together in the communal creation of art. Stories can celebrate our differences, and highlight our shared humanity. We seek to create processes, stories, and spaces that are welcoming to all and foster a deep, shared sense of belonging.