Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Help us be a more inclusive theater.

Please take five minutes to complete this anonymous equity survey! On the advice of our DEI Strategy Team, we are conducting an “equity audit” to find out how people inside and outside of Live Arts perceive us. We’ll use those insights to inform our strategic plan, volunteer training program, outreach efforts, and the way we forge theater and community.

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY

Live Arts stands in solidarity with those who denounce the use of suppression, violence, and systemic racism to silence the voices of Black and Brown people in our community and our nation. 

Like most predominantly white theaters in America, we acknowledge that we have benefited from systems that have reinforced institutional inequities to the detriment of many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

We are committed to dismantling the systems, policies, and practices that have perpetuated patterns of injustice. We understand that this requires a collective, sustained effort at every level of Live Arts. We are up to the task.  

 

DEI STRATEGY TEAM

In fall 2020, Live Arts formed a 13-member DEI Strategy Team to inform, challenge, and advise us on how to become a more welcoming, inclusive theater. Their hard work is at the core of our ongoing DEI programs and initiatives.

Current members:

  • Beverly Colwell Adams, Co-chair
  • Anne Hunter, Co-chair
  • Shilpa Dave, Governance Chair
  • Gloria Rockhold
  • Fredrick Martin
  • Vivian Feggans
  • Derick Williams
  • Aiyana Marcus
  • James Bryant
  • Susan E. Evans
  • Will Jones
  • Sophie Freshwater
  • Kelly Dowd

 

EQUITY INITIATIVES

We believe that theater can be a platform for social change and a way to explore the pressing issues of our time. That belief, put forth by our founders, inspired us to commit to dismantling systems, policies, and practices that may have perpetuated patterns of injustice at Live Arts or in our communities.

Under the guidance of our DEI Strategy Team, Live Arts has:

  • Recommitted to centering under-represented works by women and people of color, an initiative that began in 2018.
  • Revised our Strategic Plan in early 2021 to explicitly highlight DEI priorities and strategies.
  • Recruited five new Board members of color in July 2021, bringing our BIPOC representation on the Board to 43%.
  • Added a standing DEI Committee to our Board in fall 2021. It works on policy and structural changes and ensures that equity informs every Board discussion and decision.
  • Launched “Project Access” in fall 2021 to reduce barriers to volunteering at Live Arts.
  • Partnered with The Breath Project, a national network of BIPOC artists and theaters committed to building a more equitable theater community and actively dismantling structural racism in the American Theater. Our first Breath Project collaboration, SILAS, THE UNINVITED by Cincinnati playwright Derek J. Snow, debuts in spring 2022.
  • Revamped our Employee Handbook in fall 2021 to reflect more equitable hiring and retention practices.
  • Introduced a Volunteer Bill of Rights to set expectations and protect volunteers from harm. It’s part of a soon to be unveiled Volunteer Handbook.
  • Reviewed our governance and operating policies through an equity lens as part of a year-long Nonprofit Clinic run by UVA School of Law that wrapped up in May 2021.
  • Met weekly as a staff, beginning in June 2021, to participate in anti-racist training and discuss DEI articles, books, and podcasts.
  • Launched an external Equity Audit in fall 2021 in partnership with an outside DEI consultant.
  • Offered Pay-What-You-Can tickets to most performances during the pandemic. This program, launched 25 years ago by Live Arts, is sustained by community partners committed to keeping live theater affordable and accessible.
  • Institutionalized land acknowledgements to the Monacan Nation and began learning about the people behind those acknowledgements through books, conversations, and field trips.

We understand that advancing equity is a marathon, not a sprint. These actions represent a small step to becoming a more welcoming, inclusive theater. We invite you to check back for our latest DEI initiatives. If you have questions or ideas for us, please contact Executive Director Anne Hunter at anne@livearts.org.