Heart of America Shakespeare Festival Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access Statement

“So distribution should undo excess, and each (man) person have enough.” Wm. Shakespeare (King Lear, Act 4)

Theatre has the power to break down barriers, inspire, extend empathy, and create experiences that foster dialog and change. And nowhere is change more desperately needed than in how our society faces the scourge of systemic inequality and racism. The time has come for real change, and The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is dedicated to playing its part – both in words and in action.

We acknowledge there is work that we have to do to address issues of inequality within our own organization and as members of our community. We are committed to working with and listening to the community and continuing to advocate for the dignity of all people through the work that we do. We know that the work on our stages and in our classrooms plays a role in the critical dialogue and commitment to change that must take place.

As a theatre company with a predominantly white staff and board, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival knows that any statement offering solidarity without accountability is not acceptable. Therefore we commit to the following steps:

∙ We commit to being better storytellers. If we are to be a theatre that builds community, we must use our greatest tool of storytelling to effect change.

∙ We will promote an environment that actively works to discover our unconscious biases and against racism, harassment and discrimination.

. We will include more voices of Black, Indigenous and people of color on our board and we will seek out and build relationships beyond our current reach to achieve this goal.

∙ We will increase employment of BIPOC artists and technicians.

∙ We will seek out and build relationships beyond our current reach to connect with local high school and college age BIPOC who are seeking to gain experience in administrative and production work.

∙ We will include board and staff anti-racism learning as part of our strategic planning.

∙ We commit to listening to, and learning, from communities of color to discover where we have not been doing enough and make needed changes to do better within our organization.

∙ We will review these goals regularly as part of our strategic plan and work to make significant progress over the upcoming 12 – 18 months depending on when live programming can resume.

It has often been said that nothing worth doing is ever easy. The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival fully realizes that correcting inequality in our organization will take focus, time, and patience. But know that we will accomplish it, will always listen to our community, and will remain an ardent advocate for equality and dignity.