Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Accessibility
We as a theatre company have seen first-hand the profound impact of storytelling in fostering empathy, deepening understanding, and affirming the shared humanity of all. Guided by this belief, we recognize the importance of our stage to serve as a platform for amplifying classic narratives from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and voices. Our commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) initiatives remains steadfast, reflecting our dedication to fostering an inclusive environment where every story is honored and every voice is heard.
Organizational EDIA Structure
A Noise Within’s Board of Directors recognized the need for expanding discussion and action around equity, diversity, and inclusion. The EDIA Forum comprises the staff of ANW who are actively engaged in day-to-day operations, rehearsals, interacting with patrons and customers, selecting and liaising with vendors, conducting outreach, fostering school relationships, coordinating with teachers, engaging with students, overseeing camp activities, and supervising contractors.
EDIA Goals and Priorities 2023-24
The EDIA Forum has collaboratively formulated the following objectives. Primarily, the group aims to tailor EDIA initiatives to address the specific needs and hurdles encountered within ANW. The following four pillars outline the focal points for the current season:
1. How we treat our community.
- Provide targeted training tailored to equip both staff and artists with the necessary resources to effectively address current issues experienced within our theatre environment.
- Implement training programs aimed at supporting artists in navigating and disengaging (de-roleing) from emotionally taxing narratives portrayed on stage, facilitating a healthy separation from the portrayed trauma.
- Develop strategies and techniques for de-escalating conflicts with members of the public, particularly addressing instances where patrons may express dissenting opinions regarding play selections or events such as Black Out Night, ensuring responses are respectful and reflective of ANW values.
- Create integration opportunities by organizing gatherings where staff, board members, and Resident Artists to convene, strengthening the company’s core values and fostering collaborative partnerships within the community.
- Offer professional development opportunities for BIPOC members of our staff to enhance skills and knowledge. These initiatives are geared towards empowering individuals to bring back newfound expertise and insights to the company, fostering personal growth and facilitating career advancement within ANW.
- Engage intimacy coordinators for each show or on-call throughout the season as required. Additionally, establish cultural coordinators who are available for productions that address race or where racial dynamics emerge in the rehearsal space.
- Expand avenues of communication within ANW by introducing post-mortem production discussions and post-show anonymous surveys for artists.
2. How we communicate our values.
- Create full company orientations at the onset of each season, as well as at the commencement of every first rehearsal. Additionally, create video recordings of these orientations to ensure absent designers can access the information, thereby ensuring all members understand our values and procedures. These orientations, developed collaboratively by staff and artists, are inspired by the “Not in Our House” theatre standards adopted by numerous LORT companies across the United States. They underscore a commitment to fostering a working environment characterized by clear understanding and zero tolerance for racism and sexual harassment.
- Require Ambassador video training on bias for all volunteers and ushers. This video will serve as an essential training tool, helping to increase awareness of biases and promoting a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all patrons and visitors.
- Engage artists and staff to pledge to each other, during the first rehearsal gathering of each season, to collaborate in fostering a safe environment where speaking up is encouraged. This pledge emphasizes the importance of maintaining a positive and respectful workplace and welcomes reminders from anyone to uphold these standards.
- Reflect the diversity of our community across all facets of our organization, including casting, designers, staff, board members, and Resident Artist company.
- Incorporate our Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility values into our season announcement – explaining the intrinsic connection between the selected plays and our organizational values.
3. How we recruit our community members.
- Establish an assistant designer and director program tailored for BIPOC emerging artists, providing them with opportunities to shadow and collaborate closely with our seasoned professionals on productions.
- Allocate funds to advertise new positions in locations that have greatest potential to attract a diverse pool of candidates for both employee positions and potential cast members.
- Work with recruiters for senior staff positions who have a track record and expertise in placing BIPOC executives.
- Ensure BIPOC finalists for staff positions by extending the duration of job postings to allow ample time for outreach to the entire community.
- Conduct exit interviews for departing staff.
- Utilize inclusive language in job postings and casting notices to actively encourage BIPOC participation in the search process
- Attend in-person events and job fairs to recruit diverse candidates.
- Expand board diversity by engaging with service organizations and foundations dedicated to recruiting potential BIPOC board members.
- Ensure casting diversity by contracting additional casting associates with expertise in the BIPOC acting community in our region as needed.
- Ensure organic relationships with communities by actively inviting all constituent groups to attend our productions. Instead of limiting invitations to specific communities based on the themes of the production, we will ensure that everyone feels welcome at all our shows. Additionally, we will create events and opportunities specifically tailored to diverse communities, making our productions and programs accessible and inclusive to all.
- Deepen our Indigenous relations by strengthening our ties to regional tribes and engaging these communities in our productions and education programs. Additionally, we will refine our land acknowledgment statement in consultation with Indigenous communities to accurately reflect their history, culture, and ongoing contributions to the land on which we operate.
4. How we ensure access to the entire community.
- Continue to diversify the Resident Artist community.
- Continue Pay What You Choose performances.
- Create an Industry Night where all members of the entertainment community can access our productions at a self-selected low cost.
- Further promote our Teen Tix and Student Rush programs to widen our messaging to ensure communication to BIPOC students.
- Enhance our visibility and create a more inclusive atmosphere for young people beyond educators.
- Research the expenses associated with installing automated bathroom doors and achieving 100% stage accessibility to accommodate actors or guests with disabilities. Additionally, explore funding opportunities to support these accessibility enhancements, ensuring equal access and inclusion for all individuals.
A Noise Within EDIA Progress Numbers 2022-23
- During the fiscal year ending 2023, ANW employed a total of 150 individuals in various roles including actors, understudies, stage managers, directors, and designers. Of these artists, 56% identified as BIPOC.
- In the 2022-23 season, 83% of our stage directors identified as BIPOC. Additionally, two out of five productions depicted the BIPOC experience, and two of our playwrights were BIPOC. Furthermore, one additional playwright was a woman.
- At the beginning of the fiscal year ending in 2024, and presently, the 19 full-time administrative and production staff members comprise 56% BIPOC individuals.
- Throughout the 2022-23 season, our audience consisted of 22% BIPOC patrons on average. The highest proportion of BIPOC audience members, comprising 29% of attendees, was recorded during the production of A Christmas Carol.
- In the 2022-23 term, the Board of Directors comprised 35% BIPOC members. The board consisted of nine men and eleven women.
We acknowledge that A Noise Within is located on the traditional homelands of the Kizh, Tongva, and Gabrielino people. We also recognize their neighbors in the region: the Tataviam and Chumash people. A Noise Within is committed to developing an authentic relationship with this land and its Indigenous inhabitants.