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Resource alert: Sample Harassment policies

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 18, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2018

As part of our ongoing work to address the issue of sexual harassment in the performing arts, StageSource recommends that all theater companies (even small or informal groups of collaborators) adopt comprehensive policies to help prevent harassment and to properly manage reports should they occur. Recognizing that not all organizations are able to tackle this alone, we have compiled some sample documents which can be adapted and adopted by any and all theater makers.

These samples were developed based on the work done at our recent Line Drawn Summit as well as best practices compiled from some of our participating member organizations. These are not intended to be exhaustive, or one-size-fits-all. Nor can they replace the important work that all organizations must undertake to address this issue at its core, and to shift the culture from within. These documents are meant simply to offer a starting point to those who need one.

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SAMPLE DOCUMENTS

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IMPACT Boston Releases Report on StageSource Line Drawn Summit

Posted By David E. Shane, Thursday, August 16, 2018

The report below, which was prepared for StageSource by IMPACT Boston, is a look at what we've learned so far from our work to address the issue of sexual harassment in the performing arts. It is a snapshot of where we are, and a look ahead at our next steps. This is a complex issue that cannot be solved by a one-day summit or by releasing a report. We understand this, which is why with the help of the entire performing arts community, this work will continue. 

 

LINE DRAWN SUMMIT & SURVEY REPORT

Prepared for StageSource

by Meg Stone, Executive Director, IMPACT Boston

 

Introduction & Overview

In 2018 StageSource launched a collaboration with IMPACT and other partners to strategize around creating a New England-wide initiative to prevent sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse in the performing arts. The goal of the initiative is to create shared community standards for safe and ethical work environments within performing arts organizations, and to build the capacity of both individual professionals and organizations of all sizes to prevent abuse.

This report summarizes the findings of a survey conducted by Stage Source in May 2018 to assess the problems and needs facing the performing arts community. It also gives a summary of the inaugural Line Drawn Summit held June 16, 2018 and open to all members of the New England performing arts community. It concludes with recommendations for next steps based on the survey and the summit.

 

Summit Description

The Line Drawn Summit drew 20 members of the New England performing arts community. Thirteen performing arts organizations and businesses were represented by Artistic Directors, Managing Directors, a Director of Human Resources as well as interns and other non-managers. Freelance stage managers (including an Equity liaison), directors, performers, and theater critics were also in attendance. The summit drew representatives from large, mid-size and fringe performing arts organizations, almost all were representing companies New England

The Summit began with a report on the anonymous survey Stage Source conducted to understand the scope of the problem of sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse in New England performing arts.  It then included a presentation on policies, with some participants sharing their organizational policies and the issues and situations that led them to create policies.

The group then self-selected into three small work groups to have more focused discussions:

·         Issues facing freelancers and fringe companies

·         First rehearsal/first production meeting: setting a tone

·         Training

The groups reported back on the issues and challenges they addressed and those issues informed the larger group effort to identify common ethical standards.

The summit ended with a first effort to reach a consensus on ethical standards for New England performing arts.

 

Survey

In preparation for the summit, StageSource created and circulated an anonymous survey which asked respondents about their experiences of witnessing or being the target of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse, their perceptions of the barriers to reporting and stopping harassment, and their ideas for standards and practices the New England performing arts community can adopt. The survey received 189 responses. The respondents were mostly female (70%) and the majority were actors (106 out of 189 or 56%). The next most represented roles in the arts community were directors (54), administrative staff (48) and stage managers (31).  The least represented roles were company manager (5), critic (6), music director (7) and technical director (8). The survey allowed for participants to choose multiple roles and many respondents did.

 

Experiencing Harassment, Abuse or Boundary Violations

When asked if they had experienced sexual harassment, misconduct, abuse, or related uncomfortable situations, 81% indicated that they had experienced at least one incident.

The most commonly reported incidents were:

·         Had a coworker make sexualized or suggestive comments, verbally or nonverbally (67%)

·         Had a person in a position of authority (director, tech director, choreographer, etc.) make sexualized or suggestive comments -- verbally or nonverbally -- about your body (47%)

·         Had someone directly or indirectly communicate that you were unfit to perform work duties because of your gender, sexuality, or appearance. (46%)

·         Been made to change costumes in an insufficiently private area (37%)

·         Had an experience where you had to work alongside co-workers who were engaging in excessive (though consensual) displays of physical affection and/or sexually charged conversation while in the work environment (37%)

Six respondents (3.9%) reported having experienced sexual activity without their consent.

Witnessing Harassment

Fifty percent of survey respondents reported witnessing sexual harassment in performing arts. The remaining 50% were split between the answer choice “no” and the answer choice “unsure” with 28% responding “unsure.”

The large number of “unsure” responses points to a need for education about what constitutes sexual harassment and abuse, and shared community standards that clearly define this behavior.

 

Reasons for Not Reporting & Outcomes of Reporting

Of those who witnessed sexual harassment, the majority (70%) did not report. The most common reasons respondents gave for their decision not to report were:

—  I didn’t think anything would be done about it

—  I wasn’t sure it was sexual harassment

—  I didn’t know who to tell

—  I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble

Survey respondents who reported sexual harassment were most likely to report to stage managers (23), artistic directors (20), and directors (19). Almost half the respondents to this question checked “other,” and their responses ranged from Human Resources to the Production Manager to University administrators responsible for Title IX.  

The majority of respondents reported unsatisfactory outcomes to the reports they made. The most common unsatisfactory responses were:

—  The person was understanding but didn’t know how to handle the situation. As a result, the situation was not resolved and nothing changed. (30%)

—  The person minimized or explained away the incident (25%)

—  I don’t know, I left the situation (22%)

—  My report was ignored (17%)

In very few cases did a report of harassment result in either a harasser being removed from a production or the harassment stopping:

·         The harassment stopped (13%)

·         The person was removed from the company or production (5%)

A small minority of reports of harassment or abuse resulted in the harassment stopping and/or the harasser being removed from the company or production.

Barriers to Change

Survey respondents were asked in an open-ended question to identify the barriers they see to creating harassment- and abuse-free workplace in New England performing arts. Out of 117 open-ended responses, the following were the most common themes:

—  Old ways, old men (18)

—  No consequences for harassers (16)

—  Lack of knowledge of how to make/receive reports (16)

—  Gender & societal inequity: power differences between harasser and harassed (14)

—  Fear of losing work (14)

—  Fear of retaliation/being labeled a trouble maker (13)

—  Lack of training for arts organization leaders (8)

—  Lack of community standards (8)

 

Policies

After the survey report, the summit provided space for arts organizational leaders to present their existing policies and the process by which they were developed. Below are some highlights of key elements of policies. Due to the frank discussions of organizational problems that led to policy development, this report will present the issues and developed policies without identifying individual organizations.  Several arts organizations have shared their policies with StageSource and those are available as a guide for others to adopt.

Developing Policies in Response to Edgy, Sexual Art

One theater company found that most of their problems with harassment were situations in which edgy or sex-positive material was used as an excuse to cross boundaries and/or abuse power. As a result, the company developed policies and investigation processes designed to prevent this type of harassment and abuse of power.

Their policy includes:

·         No sexual or dating relationships between people who are in a supervisory relationship

·         No nude or sexually explicit scenes can be rehearsed after hours or in a private place

·         Feedback can be given about a character’s sexual desirability or sex appeal but not about an actor’s body, looks, or sexual desirability

 

Adopting the Chicago Standards in Response to Sexual Abuse Incidents

One theater company adopted the Chicago Theater Standards in response to abuse and harassment incidents. In implementing the standards, they initiate long discussions of standards at the first rehearsal. A representative from the Board also follows up to reach out and give support so that freelancers have a connection to someone who is removed from the rehearsal process. They also circulate a survey at the end of the production to get feedback about the work environment.

Online Harassment

While online harassment is a need expressed by many summit participants, one theater review site has a policy of referring all online harassment to the editor so that individual reviewers are not responsible for engaging with harassing or abusive responses to their articles.

 

Consensus Community Standards

A primary purpose of the summit was to begin a process of creating community standards and practices that arts organizations can adopt in order to ensure safe and ethical workplaces.

Through small break-out groups followed by a large-group consensus building process, summit

participants created a first iteration of shared ethical standards for New England Performing Arts.

This summit was the first step. Stage Source plans to follow up with additional summits, and to circulate the report to get feedback on the initial standards that the assembled group identified. Members of the New England performing arts community are welcomed and encouraged to communicate any feedback on these standards to StageSource and to participate in future convenings.

The following standards represent the greatest areas of consensus among the group:

1.      Reports will be acknowledged within 24 hours and include information for the next step.

2.      Gender identity and sexual orientation will not be used to make assumptions about ability, talent, skill level or fitness for performing duties.

3.      The creation of a community based on safety & responsibility will supersede artistic, financial, or reputational goals.

4.      Touch (by actors, directors, costume/wardrobe staff, etc.) will always be preceded by asking for consent.

5.      Anyone who critiques an actor will focus on the actor’s work as a professional, not their  appearance of identity as a person.

6.      All employees will be notified prior to auditioning and hiring that the company has agreed to be part of the New England Standard of Ethics policies, which will be available to read on the website.

7.      All employees will be held to the same standards of conduct. No one gets a “pass” because of age, donation amounts, reputation, marketability.

8.      Any nudity, intimacy, or touching required in a role will be clearly identified to the actor and all artists on or before hiring and never to be added after hiring without the consent of the actor (note: there were some variations on this standard with some advocating for directors being able to add intimacy if it is supervised by a trained intimacy choreographer.

9.      Intimate material will not be rehearsed without the presence of both a director and a stage manager or intimacy director.

 

The Importance—And Challenges—Of Addressing Community Members Who Have Perpetrated

Summit participants came to greater consensus on standards related to preventative measures and practices than standards related to individual artists and technicians with past histories of perpetration. All summit participants were clear and in agreement that they wanted to work in arts organizations that are free of people who perpetrate, yet the summit revealed how difficult is to reach consensus on how to make this intention a reality, more specifically, how to address individuals who have a history of perpetration.

Some participants expressed willingness to consider some sort of “do no hire” list, while others expressed strong concerns about any action that could replicate the blacklisting tactics of the McCarthy era that targeted artists. Another question that arose was how an arts organization would establish that someone had perpetrated—would they believe rumors? Would they rely on the criminal legal system and only apply this standard to someone who has been convicted? Would they use other models like restorative or transformative justice?

“You could imagine not hiring a lighting designer who had a reputation for missing deadlines, but some people in the room are not ready to do the same for a person with a reputation for sexually harassing or abusing”

Arts administrators and directors acknowledged that they often make hiring decisions based on a person’s reputation (for meeting deadlines, for working effectively with a team, for doing quality work), yet the thought of making hiring decisions based on a reputation for having caused sexual harm was an area that provoked challenging and important conversation. Strong and conflicting opinions on this issue were expressed and deeper and longer conversation will be needed to create consensus.

In abuse prevention initiatives, deciding how to address individuals who have perpetrated is among the most difficult and the most important decisions. As StageSource continues its work, exploring this issue more deeply will be crucial to creating standards and practices that are strong enough to be effective at stopping abuse.

 

Recommendations

1.      Create and Pilot Bystander and Boundary Setting Trainings Unique to Arts Organizations

 

During the summit, many participants requested training for how to respond to situations in which they or others are experiencing harassment. Specific identified training needs included:

Bystander Skills

De-escalation: how to de-escalate a situation and return to a productive rehearsal

Responding to abuse reports

Managing the freeze response—to advocate for oneself in the moment

Misogyny and trans/homophobia in technical/crew spaces

Respectful intervention when someone says the wrong thing

Boundary setting

 

All of these topics would be most effective if presented in a way that was unique to arts organizations.

 

IMPACT therefore proposes to create a pilot bystander training and a pilot boundary setting/self-advocacy training. Arts organizations could sponsor their own staff and/or freelance stage managers, artists and technicians to attend the training. Pilot training participants would be asked to give input to help shape these trainings so they could eventually become a recognized credential for permanent staff and freelancers.  

 

2.      Survey Technicians, Stage Managers, and Others in  Male-Dominated Professions

 

The few responses from carpenters, backstage crew, and other backstage professionals identified role-specific experiences of sexism and harassment, yet the majority of respondents to the Stage Source survey were actors. Also, several summit participants commented about ways in which the survey was actor-centered. IMPACT therefore proposes that Stage Source conduct specific outreach to backstage professionals so that their experiences are well-represented in future efforts of the Line Drawn initiatives.

 

3.      Draft Sample Contract Language that Supports & Protects Freelancers Who Intervene to Prevent Harassment, Misconduct and Abuse

 

Fear of losing work and being labeled a trouble maker are key barriers to reporting harassment and intervening to stop abuse. IMPACT therefore recommends that Stage Source work with the Arts & Business Council and other partners to draft language for stage management, production management, and similar contracts that affirms the organization’s commitment to creating a harassment-free workplace and protects the freelancer from retaliation for reporting or intervening.

 

4.      Hold a focused summit with an attempt to achieve consensus or have more focused conversation on standards for people who are known or reputed to have perpetrated.

 

Based on the results of the survey and the summit, IMPACT makes the following recommendations:

 

The biggest area of disagreement among summit participants was on how to create an ethical standard related to not hiring people who have perpetrated sexual harassment or abuse. Controversy centered around how to evaluate rumors and whether it is fair to use that as a reason to consider someone unfit to work. Further reflection and conversation is needed to more deeply understand this resistance or hesitation on the part of some and enthusiasm on the part of others. 

 

One summit participant proposed creating a grid of appropriate responses to different types of misconduct ranging from micro-aggressions and sexist comments to sexual assault and rape. The thought behind the grid was that arts organizations would respond to less serious acts with education or support, while responding to more severe abuses with more serious consequences.

Example:

 

Act

Response

Sexist/Racist.Ableist/Homophobic comment

Training & education

Sexual Harassment

 

Sexual Assault/ Rape

 


During the community standards exercise this chart got the highest number of votes.

IMPACT therefore proposes a specific, focused summit designed to more deeply explore this issue with the chart as an example of what such standards could look like. We further propose to invite guest speakers who can address restorative and transformative justice models, models used in sports organizations for banning abusive coaches and athletes, and other models.

During the community standards exercise this chart got the highest number of votes.

IMPACT therefore proposes a specific, focused summit designed to more deeply explore this issue with the chart as an example of what such standards could look like. We further propose to invite guest speakers who can address restorative and transformative justice models, models used in sports organizations for banning abusive coaches and athletes, and other models.

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Dawn M. Simmons named Executive Director of StageSource

Posted By David E. Shane, Thursday, August 9, 2018

Dawn M. Simmons Named Executive Director of StageSource

The Board of Directors of StageSource, the Greater Boston alliance of theater artists and producers, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dawn M. Simmons as Executive Director, effective August 27, 2018.

Dawn joins StageSource from the Boston Center for the Arts, where she served as Director of Performing Arts since 2014, overseeing performing arts programming and artist residencies. Prior to the BCA, she was the Director of Programs at StageSource for ten years, and more recently served on the organization’s Board of Directors. She is an accomplished theater director, and in recent years has directed productions for such companies as Lyric Stage, Greater Boston Stage Company, and SpeakEasy. She is also founder and director of the Front Porch Arts Collective, a culturally-specific performing arts company founded in 2016, and the New Exhibition Room, founded to produce political theater works in 2008.

Janet Bailey, President of the StageSource Board, said “We are thrilled that Dawn will be joining StageSource as Executive Director. She has a wealth of experience as both a theater artist and as an administrator, and is an important member of the Boston-area arts community. That, combined with her prior experience working for StageSource earlier in her career, makes her uniquely qualified to take on this responsibility.”

“I am honored to have been chosen as the next Executive Director of this remarkable organization,” said Dawn.  “I look forward to connecting with the membership to get their help in mapping out how we can continue to serve the theater community.”  A native of Buffalo, NY, Dawn holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Buffalo and has studied playwriting at Boston University.

StageSource offices are located at 15 Channel Center Drive in the Fort Point area of Boston. For more information on the organization visit www.stagesource.org or call 617.350.7611.

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Addressing Harassment in the New England performing arts community

Posted By David E. Shane, Thursday, April 19, 2018

The news of this week has increased the intensity of the call to address the issues of sexual harassment within the performing arts community. As the service organization for the New England theater community, StageSource has been partnering with other organizations and working on ways to heed that call. In this email, we will outline the work that we have started and ask for your help in implementing the first very important step.


Step One: Conduct a community-wide survey to identify many of the needs and requirements for all entities and individuals involved.

The purpose of this survey is to mobilize the strength of the community in order to develop practices and standards which will help to make us all safer. Responses will greatly inform the training and programs as they take shape. The goal is not to litigate the past, but rather to help drive a culture shift for the future.

 

Please consider taking a moment to complete this CONFIDENTIAL survey, and feel free to forward this link to others in the New England performing arts community. We want to encourage the broadest possible participation so as to address as many issues as we can.

 

CLICK HERE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CONFIDENTIAL SURVEY

 

Below is an outline of the next steps involved in this initiative.


Step Two: Develop resources and training which are specific to the performing arts community.

While there are webinars and training available around the topic of sexual harassment, too often they are too broad to be helpful in a workplace where physical contact and heightened emotional states are part of the job. There are many organizations in our community which are already seeking to address these needs. Our goal is to spotlight best practices which are already being implemented and to develop community-wide standards and resources which can be made available to artists and organizations of all sizes and scopes. Specific goals include:

  • Create a code of conduct which organizations and artists can adopt.

  • Provide the education needed to develop Board roles and responsibilities.

  • Provide customized training for organizations and individuals which could include harassment training, bystander training, and diversity and inclusion training.

  • Create a toolkit of resources for organizations to access policies, employee communications, webinars, and articles which can help customize operating standards.

  • Offer safe zone certification for organizations which adopt and successfully implement the code of conduct, Board responsibility requirements, and customized training recommendations. Certification will communicate to current and potential employees that the organization is a safe place to work. It also offers the organization an opportunity to market their commitment to audiences and to create awareness.


Step Three: Develop resources for mediation, investigation, and restorative justice.

Organizations may encounter circumstances that require mediation and investigation. This goal of this step is to provide a place to turn.  Situations may arise that require investigation but may not be in violation of regulations. Resources will be available to help navigate the situation, work with staff and artists, and help with education so that everyone can move forward. In the event that organizations have employees that come forward who have endured situations that have affected them personally and emotionally,  this initiative will provide a resource to help individuals process this injustice and get to a place where they can move forward.StageSource, nor our partners,  wish to take on the role of a performing arts police force. Rather, we can partner with folks who have expertise, and can help artists or organizations figure out the best path forward to restore justice.


Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the efforts underway here at StageSource. We welcome your participation in the survey and your feedback on this initiative moving forward. It will take the investment of the entire community to address this important issue and to ultimately shift the culture from within.

Sincerely,

Julie Hennrikus, Executive Director
David Shane, Operations Supervisor
The StageSource Board of Directors

Tags:  Impact Boston  Sexual harassment 

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Line Drawn

Posted By Julie Hennrikus, Friday, December 1, 2017

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.

 

Line drawn.

Tags:  #StageSource  Impact Boston 

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Dim The Lights for Jack Welch

Posted By Julie Hennrikus, Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It is with a very heavy heart that I mark the passing of Jack Welch, founding board member of StageSource, our first StageSource Theater Hero, champion of new plays, and one of the loveliest men to grace this community.

 

For many years, Jack ran Baker's Plays, a treasure trove for the theater community that was located on Chauncy Street. It is there that I first met him, as a college student who was going to direct her first play and needed some monologues for auditions, He spent an hour with me helping me to chose those pieces. I was one of countless people he met over the course of that part of his long career.

 

The next time we met I was the administrative assistant for StageSource. It was 1986 or 1987, and I was helping Dona Sommers with admin tasks like filing headshots, recording the enews (which was a phone message machine that members had a code to), and trying to figure out a new fangled database that someone had donated. I would occassionally take board minutes as well. Never once did Jack walk into the StageSource office when I was there and not give me a huge smile, and ask how I was. 

 

Jack's role in founding StageSource, and keeping it going over some rough patches, cannot be overstated. He loved this theater community, and when the Huntington and ART set up shop, he quickly recognized the need and opportunity for a service organization to help actors connect with producers, auditions, and other resources. In short order StageSource added directors, designers, playwrights, technicians, dramaturgs, technicians, and other artists to the mix. A few years later the organization merged with another group that served producers, and StageSource became what it is today--a connector for the theater community. 

 

In 2011, when I became the Executive Director of StageSource, Jack was right in line to congratulate me. A few weeks after I started he gave me a call. "You don't mind, do you Julie? Once in a while I get a thought, and I want to share it." I never, ever minded. I will miss those calls, that smile, and that gentle man more than I can say. 

 

Our community has lost some lights this year. Jack was a very, very bright one. We are all better off for having had him in our midst.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  #JackWelch  #NewPlay  #StageSource  #theaterhero  #theatrehero  Jack Welch  Theatre Hero 

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ED Julie Hennrikus to participate in the Berkshire Leadership Summit

Posted By Julie Hennrikus, Monday, September 25, 2017

 

StageSource Executive Director is thrilled to be a participant at the October Berkshire Leadership Summit. The cohort of women chosen for this event are from all over the United States and Canada, and at varying stages in their careers. The convening will be part networking, part skill building, and part having conversations around women in theater and the issue of gender parity. The weekend aligns with the work that StageSource is doing, and has done, around gender parity, and is a great opportunity to elevate the conversation.

 

The press release for the event is below. Stay tuned for more details, and some reflections on the event.

 

**************************************************

 

September 21, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Gail Burns, Marketing and Publicity Associate

www.wamtheatre.com

pr@wamtheatre.com; 518.243.9627

Press photos can be found at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wamtheatre/

 

WAM Theatre Announces Attendees for October’s Berkshire Leadership Summit

 

We see the operation of a glass ceiling, a metaphor for the barriers facing women stuck at middle management where they can see the top but cannot reach it.”

- from the Wellesley Centers for Women Study

 

LEE, MA - Organizers of the pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit, an event for women aspiring to, or already in, leadership positions in the non-profit theatre, and hosted by WAM Theatre, are excited to announce that the attendees of this event have been selected.

 

Of the 163 women theatre professionals who applied to participate in the Berkshire Leadership Summit, 75 have been accepted, hailing from 22 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. This cohort reflects an emphasis the Steering Committee members placed on diversity, accessibility, and intentionality early in the process. Towards this goal, the steering committee members, comprised of Kristen van Ginhoven, Artistic Director of WAM Theatre (Steering Committee Chair); Akiba Abaka, Audience Development Manager at ArtsEmerson; Rachel Fink, Managing Director of Theatre Bay Area; and Shafer Mazow, who currently works at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, went through a rigorous selection process that focused on creating a cohort that balanced career (early/late/mid-career), background (race, sexual identity, geography), and level of leadership experience. The process resulted in an intentional balance of these criteria in an effort to provide the greatest opportunity for personal growth and community-building for each attendee at the summit.

 

“When I stood up at a microphone at American Conservatory Theater's Women's Leadership Conference in August 2016 and said WAM Theatre would host a summit as a next step in the national conversation around gender parity in the theatre, never, ever did I think it would result in this sort of response,” explained Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM’s Artistic Director. “The desire for this sort of event is very clear. “

 

“Getting this sort of response confirms that we were embarking on something timely and critical in discussions of equity and inclusion in the field.” said Shafer Mazow, Steering Committee Member and a lead developer and organizer of the Women’s Leadership Project and convening that inspired the Berkshire Leadership Summit. “Women of all backgrounds, experiences, and identities struggle to break the glass ceiling in theatre, and the diversity of applicants proves we are articulating and addressing a need for that glass ceiling to be shattered for everyone.”

 

Early- to late-career theatre professionals from British Columbia to Brooklyn will come together in Lenox, Massachusetts, for two days at the end of October. The summit will have a three-part structure: Networking opportunities, rigorous Skill-Building sessions and Advancing the Discourse panels, which will be livestreamed through HowlRound. The Steering Committee will announce the speakers, panelists, and schedule next month.

 

Attendees such as Emika Abe of Atlanta, Georgia, have long felt the uneven ground of gender parity in theatre and are eager to support other participants in leveling this playing field. “It can be difficult to envision myself in a formal leadership position when there isn't an abundant pool of leaders who look like me from which to gather inspiration,” she explains. “This creates a barrier to really owning that we deserve a seat at the table.”

 

Canadian attendee Heather Cant echoes this sentiment. “The importance of equality should never need explaining; when all voices are welcome and heard with equal merit, all the world will truly be a stage.”

 

Steering Committee Chair van Ginhoven concludes, “WAM Theatre and the Steering Committee are incredibly proud to be taking action for gender parity in the non-profit theatre by hosting the pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit. We look forward to welcoming all of these impressive women leaders to the beautiful Berkshires in October.”

 

A complete list of this year’s Berkshire Leadership Summit participants is below. To learn more please visit http://www.wamtheatre.com/berkshire-leadership-summit-2017/attendees/.

 

Emika Abe, Atlanta, GA

C.J. Astronomo, Toronto, Ontario

Leah Barish, Chicago, IL

Eva Barrie, Toronto, Ontario

Devon Berkshire, Brooklyn, NY

Anne Bertram, Minneapolis, MN

Sara Brookner, Somerville, MA

Kamilah Bush, Greensboro, NC

Kristen Adele Calhoun, New York, NY

Heather Cant, Kamloops, British Columbia

Tatyana-Marie Carlo, Miami, FL

Elena Chang, New York, NY

Jamila Cobham, Richmond, CA

Patsy Collins Bandes, Belmont, MA

Angela Combest, Chester, MA

Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin, West Sacramento, CA

Celine Delcayre, Brooklyn, NY

Deanna Downes, Cedar Rapids, IA

Theresa Erbacher, Washington, DC

Hannah Fenlon, Brooklyn, NY

Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll, Chicago, IL

Aislinn Frantz, Groton, CT

Kelly Galvin, Lee, MA

Ann Garner, Philadelphia, PA

Adriana Gaviria, New York, NY

Maddie Gaw, Berkeley, CA

Tuled Giovanazzi, Calgary, Alberta

Ruth Goodwin, Toronto, Ontario

Stephanie Graham, Toronto, Ontario

Ty Hallmark, Kensington, MD

Pamela Halstead, East Pennant, Nova Scotia

Julie Hennrikus, Boston, MA

Rachel Spencer Hewitt, Chicago, IL

Esther Jun, Toronto, Ontario

Teresa Kilzi, Urbana, IL

Lia Kozatch, Clark, CO

Anne Levy, Tuscaloosa, AL

Shellen Lubin, Chatham, NY

Natasha MacLellan, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia

Porsche McGovern, Greenwich, CT

Tracy Liz Miller, Tempe, AZ

Nicole Miller Marks, Philadelphia, PA

Margaret Morneau, Roseville, CA

Tara Moses, Broken Arrow, OK

Shondrika Moss-Bouldin, Fairburn, GA

Shannon Musgrave, Salt Lake City, UT

Erica Nagel, Oakland, NJ

Brenna Nicely, Arlington, MA

Bridget O'Leary, Watertown, MA

Abigail Pañares, Berkeley, CA

Elizabeth Pangburn, Shutesbury, MA

Rebecca Parker, Buford, GA

Melinda Pfundstein Vaughn, Cedar City, UT

Karen Altree Piemme, San Jose, CA

Lisa Portes, Chicago, IL

Mary Jane Probst, Saint Louis, MO

Martha Richards, Berkeley, CA

Ali Joy Richardson, Toronto, Ontario

Dylan Russell, Richmond, CA

Helen Schultz, New York, NY

Jordan Schwartz, Marietta, GA

Phaedra Scott, Boston, MA

Hana Sharif, Baltimore, MD

Shannon Sindelar, Brooklyn, NY

Brianna Sloane, Sunderland, MA

Nicole St. Martin, Edmonton, Alberta

Bronwyn Steinberg, Ottawa, Ontario

Meg Sullivan, Cranston, RI

Erin Washington, Atlanta, GA

Emma Watt, Somerville, MA

Alexis Williams, New York, NY

Denise Winter, Port Townsend, WA

Danielle Zarbin, Brooklyn, NY

ABOUT THE BERKSHIRE LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

The pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit will be hosted by WAM Theatre on October 28 and 29, 2017, in the Elayne Bernstein Performing Arts Center at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA.


The summit is informed and supported by the research that American Conservatory Theater commissioned from the Wellesley Centers for Women. The HowlRound blogpost about the study can be found at http://howlround.com/women-s-leadership-research-results-and-recommendations

 

Sponsors and supporters for the summit include Lynn and Richard Atkinson, Hannelore Voness, Joan and James Hunter, Jack and Suzy Wadsworth, Arwen Lowbridge of Baystate Financial, Classical Tents, ZONTA Club of Berkshire County, and the donors of the GoFundMe campaign.


The Berkshire Leadership Summit Steering Committee: Kristen van Ginhoven, Artistic Director of WAM Theatre; Akiba Abaka, Audience Development Manager at ArtsEmerson; Rachel Fink, Managing Director of Theatre Bay Area; and Shafer Mazow, who currently works at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and was a lead developer and organizer of the Women’s Leadership Project and convening.

 

ABOUT WAM THEATRE

Based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, WAM Theatre is Where Arts and Activism Meet. The company was co-founded in 2010 by Canadian director, actor, educator, and producer Kristen van Ginhoven. WAM’s vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through the mission of theatre as philanthropy. Inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from its theatrical events to organizations that benefit women and girls. Since 2010, WAM Theatre has donated more than $32,500 to twelve nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 200 theatre artists. In addition to the main stage productions and special events, WAM Theatre’s activities include a comprehensive educational outreach program and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. For more information, visit www.WAMTheatre.com



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Tags:  #ParityBos  Berkshire Leadership Summit  Gender Parity 

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Thank you #BofAGrants for Supporting StageSource

Posted By Julie Hennrikus, Tuesday, September 19, 2017
StageSource is a non-profit, and we rely on a mix of earned (memberships, program fees) and contributed (from individuals, corporations, foundations, and the government) to do our work. Every bit of income helps us support the New England theater community, and is greatly appreciated. We are so grateful that one of our long term partners, Bank of America, is supporting StageSource again this year. 

Tags:  Bank of America  Grants  StageSource Support 

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Arts Activism for Sara Brookner

Posted By Julie Hennrikus, Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sara Brookner is one of our board members. She is also a fierce arts advocate, and recently went to Washington DC for and arts advocacy day. She wrote about that trip, and the Massachusetts Arts Advocacy Day she participated in, on Howlround. According to Sara, Arts Activism means "both advocating for the arts, and using the arts to advocate for what matters to us or is endangered." We are grateful that Sara is part of the StageSource team.

 

Sara Brookner is passionate about arts advocacy and community engagement. She currently works at ArtsEmerson in Boston, MA. A freelance dramaturg, she has worked on productions with Fresh Ink Theatre, Boston Public Works, Whistler in the Dark, Cornerstone Theater, and the American Repertory Theater and its Institute. A proud StageSource board member, she also coordinates their Gender Parity Task Force. Sara serves on MASSCreative’s leadership council, and as a member-at-large on the board of the Alliance for Jewish Theater. She received her MFA in dramaturgy from the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theatre School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, and a certificate in community-based theatre from Cornerstone Theater’s summer institute.

Tags:  #SC17ArtsAct  Sara Brookner  StageSource Board 

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On Being "Pissed" in 2017: The Stage Source Conference

Posted By Julie Hennrikus, Thursday, May 25, 2017

By Adam Sanders

In an interview published in the Harvard Business review Twyla Tharp, the legendary choreographer was prompted by the interviewer: “You’ve said repeatedly that every act of creation is an act of violence and destruction and that one of the artist’s most valuable conditions is ‘being pissed.’” While the prompt is provocative, her response is more constructive: “It’s not the anger per se that’s valuable; it’s the energy that can come from it.”  I haven’t spoken to an artist in Boston that’s not “pissed” right now and the energy in the community is palpable. It’s good that we’re pissed! But we’ve got to come together to collaboratively harness this energy to address specific challenges. That’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to the Stage Source Conference this June 17th. 
 
The theme for this year’s conference is “Arts Activism: Where Do You Fit In?”  I know many people in the community have a strong sense of themselves as activists, but for me the question has always lived somewhere in the back of my mind. Recently it’s become a primary concern.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  This conference will provide opportunities to be inspired, reflect and brainstorm, get practical advice from actors, playwright, designers, administrators (you name it!), and will conclude with a community session where the group will come together, as activists, and outline goals to tackle in the years ahead. 
 
You learn pretty quickly in acting that the answer is always in your scene partner.  Looking forward to seeing my partners at the conference and hearing their questions and answers!

 

ADAM SANDERS BIO: Adam Sanders is the Associate Artistic Director for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company in Boston, MA and the Associate Director of the Sorenson Center for the Arts at Babson College where CSC is the theater in residence. Adam oversees educational and community engagement for CSC, including serving as director for the company’s two actor-training programs: The Apprentice Program and CSC2, as well as directing the annual Stage2 performance series. At Babson, Adam works to strengthen the synergies between arts engagement and entrepreneurial education by programming a year-long performing arts season, cultivating workshops and discussion, and coordinating an undergraduate scholarship program for student-artists.

Tags:  #SC17ArtsAct  Adam Sanders  Babson Arts  StageSource  StageSource Board 

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