OUR ANTI-RACISM COMMITMENT

September 23, 2020

Friends,

 

On June 18, in a letter to our community, we shared our outrage and despair at ongoing police brutality and racial violence, joining our voice with others in demanding justice for Black lives. The Gamm affirmed a need to examine the ways in which racism not only infects policing, but our own theater. We unequivocally acknowledge our participation in upholding and benefiting from exclusionary power structures, the harms this has caused, and forcefully commit ourselves to dismantling those structures within our own organization.

The purpose of today’s letter is to share our commitments to achieve lasting, systemic change toward becoming a more just, equitable, and inclusive organization. As a non-profit professional arts organization, we acknowledge the critical role The Gamm plays in conducting this work. We are exceedingly grateful to the individuals and community partners who have devoted their time and energy to helping us shape the following.

The Gamm’s mission is to tell stories that provoke, entertain, and engage seriously with the most important issues of our time. We fully renew our commitment to this mission and, in so doing, commit to placing the stories and voices that animate those issues firmly at the center of our work

  • We pledge to diversify the community of actors, directors, designers, technicians, teaching artists, and managers who work with us.

  • We commit ourselves to ending exclusionary practices, as well as conscious and unconscious biases that perpetuate racial inequities on and off our stages and prevent artists and audience members from feeling welcome in our organization.

  • We have engaged and will continue to foster ongoing relationships with local and regional partners in order to conduct more robust recruitment efforts in communities of color.

  • We understand that this change must appear not only on our stages but throughout the organization, up to and including board leadership. 

We believe education to be the most powerful, substantive tool in combating racial injustice. We firmly commit to addressing the practices that exclude artists of color from our classrooms, our teaching roster, and our stage.

  • We commit to recruiting and hiring Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) instructors across our adult and youth education programs (Gamm Studio and Gamm Summer Intensive), as well as our work in schools and the community. 

  • We have instituted sliding-scale tuition scholarships to diminish the financial burden that faces many emerging artists in their quests to seek professional development.

  • We will establish a Gamm Fellowship to launch in fall 2021, which will provide yearly funded residencies to a cohort of emergent BIPOC actors, directors, designers, and managers.

The Gamm is committed to providing a healthy workplace, free of harassment.

  • The unspeakable acts of sexual misconduct by veteran Rhode Island actor Tom Gleadow have caused deep trauma across our community. On September 3, The Gamm contracted Coastline Employee Assistance Program to provide free-of-charge support services to all Gamm employees, affiliate artists, and their family members. Additionally, group sessions with a professional mental health counselor have been held at the theater and will continue to be offered. 

  • The Gamm reaffirms its commitment to nurturing a workplace environment free of bullying, harassment, and misconduct. We are revising and updating our existing policies designed to protect our employees to ensure their ongoing efficacy.

  • Along with our rigorous union-mandated protocols for employee protection (Actors’ Equity Association, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, United Scenic Artists, etc.), we will establish a confidential direct line, bypassing our internal management structure, for staff, artists, and students to report instances of racial bias, sexual harassment, or other abusive behaviors.

  • We have sought proposals from artEquity and other consultants to develop and institute mandatory, ongoing anti-racist training across our organization. This work will be required of all staff, board, and associate artists, to be set in motion by the time we reopen.

The Gamm recognizes that accountability and transparency are foundational to fulfilling these commitments. We also believe that the long-term success of this work can only thrive in an atmosphere that permits relationship-building, civil discourse, and considered reflection. 

  • In an effort to promote a healthy and informed exchange of ideas, we as an organization have deliberately focused our efforts away from social media.

  • We will provide regular, quarterly updates via email and on our website, specifically addressing our progress on the commitments outlined above.

  • We will establish a feedback form on our website wherein members of our community can share their insights and experiences (anonymously or otherwise) and establish a direct line of communication with Gamm leadership.

  • We will convene additional in-person conversations with community stakeholders, when we are safely able, to discuss the wide-ranging challenges facing our industry and organization. 

Finally, we would like to acknowledge the profound, harmful effects the global pandemic has had upon every single theater in our community. The collective grief and trauma of widespread unemployment and dark stages is almost beyond comprehension. The Gamm is a proud member of the Rhode Island theater community — a wide-ranging landscape comprising dozens of companies, from small community theaters, college departments, and semi-professional organizations, to union playhouses. We affirm that the strength and vitality of our organization is interdependent upon the health of our shared arts ecosystem. We commit ourselves fully to seeing that ecosystem thrive and hope you will join us in that fight.

Warmly,

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Estrella, Artistic Director      Amy Gravell, Managing Director         W. Lynn McKinney, Board President

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THE GAMM THEATRE, 1245 JEFFERSON BLVD., WARWICK, RI | 401-723-4266

© 2020 THE GAMM THEATRE

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RISCA

PROUD MEMBER OF:

Actors Equity
Theatre Communicatons Group
StageSource
Blue Star Theatres
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