We’ve been quiet for the past month, listening and deeply considering all the feedback we’ve received about the experiences of staff and students of color at Dell’Arte. We are so grateful to those who’ve come forward during this time, and on behalf of all of Dell’Arte’s leadership over the years, we sincerely apologize to all members of our community, past or present, who have been hurt or mistreated at Dell’Arte.
Our theatre has a long history of radical, physical, community-based performance, but we have failed to move beyond a predominantly white-centric model of organizational culture, performance styles, pedagogical lenses, and theatrical influences. This failure is unacceptable, especially for an organization that prides itself on being a ‘theatre of place’ with a global perspective and progressive values. We want to admit this failure openly and own it. And we want to do everything we can to address it.
Today, we want to share with you the immediate actions we’re taking to back up our commitment to anti-racism and building a more inclusive Dell’Arte:
It was recommended by a group of nine current and former staff members that Dell’Arte conduct 3 audits: internal, external, and historical. As suggested, we are working with an external auditor, which enables us to get a more objective perspective on our small organization. We’ve contracted with Coaching Imperative. Coaching Imperative “offers tailored solutions to support Diversity & Inclusivity efforts for organizations, executives, teaching and learning, organizing, and allyship” through “culturally responsive coaching that emphasizes adaptive leadership, cultural agility, critical education, and building mindful practice.”
The firm is co-founded by Issac M. Carter, Ph.D., who has experience living and working in Humboldt County with a broad understanding of the historical and contemporary struggles in the area. Dr. Carter lived in Humboldt for seven years, and has family and friends who still reside in the area, including one of his sons. Dr. Carter was a co-author of Humboldt State University’s first Diversity Action Plan, and co-advisor of the progressive faculty and staff organization. In addition, he taught several courses focusing on diversity and social justice.
The Coaching Imperative auditing program was designed to specifically address the recommendations brought forth in the ‘Collective Response’. It will be an intersectional, qualitative, and quantitative analysis utilizing and informing decolonized policies and practices drawing from BIPOC traditions.
The results from the audits will be informative and foundational in the ongoing training and coaching that will take place at the organization over the next 11 months. The current approach and timeline in summary is as follows:
Assessment: Three Audits (External, Internal and Historical)
August – October 31, 2020
Teaching and Training: Decolonizing: Policies and Practices
November 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021
Coaching: Faculty, Staff, Students and Board
February 1, 2021 – May 1, 2021
Transitions and Sustainability: Organizational Retreat and Transition
May 1, 2021 – June 31, 2021
Dell’Arte’s leadership is working with a group of current students and alumni to develop avenues for increasing student participation in decision-making at Dell’Arte. There has never been a formal ‘student government’ at Dell’Arte, nor have student representatives ever been elected to take part in board or staff committees. It’s clearly time for that to change!
Our students are deeply committed to sharing their voices and supporting Dell’Arte in the work ahead of us. Students will be able to take part in the Equity Audit, and in the ongoing conversations with faculty, staff and board members regarding the organizational changes ahead. We will also provide training for students on
organizing, so they can gain critical skills that not only support Dell’Arte, but also support them as citizens of the world actively seeking to create an equitable and just society.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS & MANAGEMENT
The Dell’Arte board currently has a subcommittee whose purview is to develop a racial equity plan for the board itself, including increasing BIPOC representation on the board and diving deeply into social justice work as it pertains to board and non-profit management practices. Dell’Arte’s Board of Directors currently has 12 members, 3 of whom identify as BIPOC. Similarly, we commit to expanding our Management Team of teachers and artist-administrators to include more BIPOC staff. This work, our commitments, and timelines will be advised and informed by the Coaching Imperative Program.
ARTISTIC AND PEDAGOGICAL EVOLUTION
We must do better at amplifying the voices of artists and activists of color on our stages and in our classrooms. In the coming year and beyond, we will be focusing more on how our theatre and school can radically expand our frame of reference to center more BIPOC and LGBTQAI+ perspectives.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT & ACCOUNTABILITY
We want to embrace transparency and accountability as we set about making the changes we need to make in the year ahead. To that end, we are actively inviting feedback from anyone in the community who wants to weigh in on how we’re doing. We’ve set up an “Accountability” page on the Dell’Arte website and an email address to solicit feedback from anyone who has a perspective they’d like to share with us. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send any comments or questions you have about equity at Dell’Arte, so that our staff can be in dialogue with our wider community and respond to your perspectives. This is just one avenue to connect with you; expect added engagement and feedback opportunities over the next year. We are starting here. Your input is welcome.
Dell’Arte is an organization in process, born out of a vision for theatre based in the Mask, a theatre which is not text-centered, but grounded in the body and in our resonant physical connection to the natural world and to each other. Since its founding, Dell’Arte has been changing and growing for five decades in response to the world around it. We hope that by acknowledging our failures and embracing our vulnerability in the face of deeper change, we’ll make our community and our alumni proud. Our aim is to help nurture a 21st Century theatre and actor-training program beyond our current imaginations, a true place of belonging for diverse artists and audiences in the 50 years ahead.
With love from Blue Lake,
Lauren Wilson, Alyssa Hughlett & Michael Fields
Expect an update on our 2020/21 school year next week as well as responses to emails sent to email@example.com.
An artistic celebration created by the migrant community in Humboldt
“we are from where we stand”
Event: LA VOZ: Stories for the migrant community behind the Redwood curtain
Date/Time: August 15, 2020 @ 6:00- 8:00 PM
ZOOM LINK: https://zoom.us/j/98124002202?pwd=UGIrdStlbWNBRFN4SW9GVE5JVFdYUT09
Text from Centro del Pueblo‘s facebook event:
This collaboration between Centro del Pueblo and Dell’Arte International, led by Sayda Trujillo and Brenda Perez, was made possible thanks to the admirable participation of members of the migrant community in Humboldt. With a team of collaborators: Carlos Gallegos, Julieta Garza, Octavio Acosta, Oscar Nava and Laura Murillo Hart. The project was funded by a grant from the New California Arts Fund.
Flyer designed by LEE Bueno @murcielagonaranja
Hey Humboldt County: Shop at the North Coast Coop this month to support ‘Seeds for Change’ recipient Black Humboldt!
When you round up at the register this August, you’ll be supporting Black Humboldt’s efforts to uplift the BIPOC communities of Humboldt.Black Humboldt is a Black owned organization that seeks to represent and support one another by focusing on positive stories from the community, investing in Black business, Arts and Culture and building community awareness of issues affecting the Black & Brown communities of Humboldt County. Co-founded in 2018 by Dionna Fletcher, Dell’Arte Alumni, and Mo Desir, Black Humboldt has blossomed into a hub for organizing, support, and empowerment for the BIPOC community in Humboldt County. Visit their website for more information: https://www.blackhumboldt.com.