The sexual harassment issues that are rocking our country have impacted the theater community as well. In some instances, that impact is very public. In other instances, most instances, the stories are whispered, without details. The stories come from those affected, and from bystanders who didn’t know what to do in the instance. Who still don’t know what to do.
As a woman who has worked in the arts for over thirty years, I have my own stories. Most women (and some men) I know have stories. Dealing with that is part of the process of this moment. But as the executive director of a service organization, the question is how do we tackle this issue as a community?
If this is a culture shift (and I hope this is a culture shift), how do we navigate it?
StageSource has been working on a proposal with Impact Boston to create trainings specific to the performing arts community. The challenge with out of the box trainings are that they don’t always apply to the work we do. “Don’t touch anyone,” is challenging for actors, or for wardrobe crew, to name two groups of folks who have to touch other people. That doesn’t mean that the field should be a free for all. It means that we need to create a nuanced training program where we understand the difference between the work, and harassment or abuse.
The proposed training program would include:
· Data gathering and surveying.
· Organizational culture and policy work.
· Bystander training. We’re specifically thinking about training for stage managers, crews, and actors.
· Empowerment self-defense/physical and verbal resistance training.
· Creating a code of conduct for the community.
Here at StageSource we routinely jump in and tackle issues without waiting for funding. See our Gender Parity Task Force, Space Task Force, or the New England New Play Alliance for examples of that. This issue, and this partnership, requires funding, however. Both StageSource and Impact Boston are committed to making this happen, and will keep you apprised of our progress.
For now, we are creating a resource page at www.StageSource.org/linedrawn where we will be referring people to the work being done in other cities, other resources, and the work of Impact Boston. This is not a static page. As more resources become known to us, we will post them.
In the meantime, let us draw a line, firmly, that puts the past behind us, and helps us move forward. I am not advocating forgetting the past. There are stories that need to be told, histories that must be aired.
The line I am proposing is a statement—as of this date, no more.