Anti-Racism Work and Commitments

In response to recent events

The Guthrie Theater believes that the arts play a vital role in our civil society. And we believe that the strength of our democracy depends on individuals, organizations and our government officials working in tandem with one another. Minneapolis City Council Member Michael Rainville recently made racist comments regarding incidents that occurred on July 4 in our neighborhood. His statements do not align with our values. While we are aware of his subsequent apology, we support the call for a formal response from Rainville and a public meeting as requested by Council Members Osman, Ellison and Chughtai. The Guthrie Theater is a haven for the exchange of ideas through the stories we share; and it is our ambition to be a space for dialogue that centers our community and invites all into a safe and welcoming environment.

July 14, 2022

Commitments 

Updated March 2022

On May 25, 2020, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, just three miles from the Guthrie Theater, sparked a global call for justice and reform so significant that it knocked the COVID-19 pandemic off the world’s headlines. While the Guthrie had taken strides prior to 2020 to expand the diversity of our work, we have simply not done enough to include and herald Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) voices. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the Guthrie’s Senior Management Team began gathering insight from Black artists and community leaders, staff, board members, national advisers and industry colleagues on how the theater might work toward becoming a more anti-racist and equitable organization. Concurrent with these ongoing conversations, the entire Guthrie staff began working with Team Dynamics — a Minnesota-based firm selected by the Guthrie’s staff-led Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee — with a focus on anti-racism work.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the Guthrie’s Senior Management Team engaged in conversation with many key constituents locally and nationally, compiling BIPOC-crafted documents outlining anti-racist recommendations and demands for the theater industry, including Twin Cities Black theater artists, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Guthrie board of directors and Guthrie staff, as well as We See You, White American Theater and Ten Chimneys Foundation which hosted a summit of representatives from Black Theatre United and League of Resident Theatres (LORT).  

After assembling a synthesized document inclusive of all recommendations from the aforementioned entities, Team Dynamics guided staff and board members through a process which organized anti-racism task force groups that each focused on a specific area of the Guthrie: Artistic; Audience, Patrons and Front of House; Board and Governance; Production; Development; Budgets; Hiring and Retention; Community Engagement and Education; Marketing; Facilities; and the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Acting Program.

These groups, each of which had BIPOC representation and were diverse across role, title and department, were tasked to review, discuss and determine three to five aspirational anti-racism commitments within their assigned sections that the Guthrie should make an immediate priority.

Together as a Guthrie community, we have created the following living commitments to create positive change at the Guthrie Theater and shift the organization’s culture in permanent and meaningful ways. These commitments are just the beginning, and we acknowledge that this work is ongoing and regularly benchmarked against an action plan.

The Guthrie Theater strives to reflect and celebrate the cultural diversity of the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota, the U.S. and the world in the work we do on and off the stage, the people who bring our productions to life and the guests and audiences who visit the theater. We endeavor to illuminate our common humanity in all we do, and we will not tolerate discriminatory behavior from Guthrie Theater staff or our artists, audiences, guests or volunteers.

WE RESPECT ONE ANOTHER

  • We will conduct quarterly anti-racism training for all full-time staff, part-time staff, contract creative hires, contract workers in the costume shop, contract workers in the scene shop, stage management hires, production crew hires and students. This training will include bystander intervention, de-escalation and conflict resolution training to address racism and harm when it happens.
  • We will address all incidents that occur at the Guthrie where harm has occurred by focusing on the person who has been harmed and adhering to clear policies and consequences for the person who has caused harm. We will gather contact information from everyone involved, follow up in a timely manner and provide anonymous methods for feedback.
  • We will provide the necessary hair and makeup products, barbers, and/or hairstylists when working with BIPOC artists. We will hire knowledgeable technicians and provide proper training in the styling and consultation of Black hair and makeup when working with Black artists.
  • We will not tokenize or objectify BIPOC artists and their work when raising funds, nor will we raise funds exclusively from BIPOC communities to support BIPOC work.
  • We will fairly compensate all artists for appearances at donor events, talkbacks and other events that fall outside the scope of work detailed in their contracts.

WE HOLD OURSELVES AND OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE

  • We will build in measures of accountability for progress (or lack thereof) for anyone within a leadership role (including Board, Senior Team and all management) and analyze our bylaws, mission and vision statements, core values, calendar and policies through an anti-racist lens.
  • We will annually analyze the demographics of our board, staff, volunteers and artists to assess who is present, who has left, who has stayed and who has been promoted as well as to determine why these decisions were made. We will use this data to inform decision-making that results in effective change.
  • We will build accountability into our recruitment efforts and all performance reviews. We will work diligently to recruit and hire employees from diverse backgrounds across all departments and all levels of the organization.
  • We will adopt a Community Agreement, with support from BIPOC staff and artists, and we will ensure prominent and regular communication about the agreement so our expectations are clear and understood.
  • We will remove audience members who cause harm or do not demonstrate our core values.
  • We will utilize board members to address problematic behavior with donors or fellow board members.

WE LIVE OUR VALUES

  • We will champion our core value of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in our job postings and job descriptions as well as when budgeting, hiring, promoting and devising schedules. We will include a compelling narrative in all recruitment efforts about why BIPOC talent may consider joining our team and provide recruitment training for all hiring managers.
  • We will articulate the importance of racial diversity, as well as strategies to achieve equity, at the board level.
  • We will assess and change design elements in our building (including a holistic examination of all exterior and interior imagery) to ensure a welcoming experience and sense of belonging for all. In our lobbies, we will permanently and prominently display how the land on which the Guthrie stands was acquired, including a history of the land and an acknowledgment honoring the land’s original inhabitants.
  • We will create a vendor policy that advances the potential to contract with BIPOC-owned businesses.
  • We will build meaningful, long-term and sustainable partnerships with BIPOC organizations, community partners and local theaters.

In addition to the commitments listed above, we will continue to:

  • Ensure that creative teams for all productions are diverse in race and gender identity. When appropriate, all members of a creative team may be from the same historically underrepresented group.
  • Distribute and discuss our Respect in the Workplace policy with each cast at their first rehearsal, as well as with all creative and production team members.
  • Require a qualified slate of candidates diverse in race and gender identity before interviewing for open positions.
  • Offer Affinity Groups for Guthrie employees which create space for employees to connect, learn and find community within the Guthrie.
  • Collaborate with our unions to promote racial and gender diversity within our production staff.
  • Invest in Native communities through our partnership with the Native Advisory Council and other Native artists.
  • Partner with Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA), a nonprofit visual arts center that invests in young artists in North Minneapolis.
  • Expand our outreach to prospective BIPOC board members to ensure racial diversity within our board of directors.

We are publicly sharing our anti-racism commitments to hold ourselves accountable, and to be held accountable by those we serve. As we continue to share our progress in big and small ways — across every department at the theater — we invite you to share your thoughts with us at commitments@guthrietheater.org.

Previous commitments 

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