Last week, Kansas City Actors Theatre stood in solidarity with other arts and cultural organizations to reaffirm our commitment to the principle that Black Lives Matter. Even when sharing those words, we knew that committed language is less compelling than committed ACTION, that passionate intent means nothing without measurable IMPACT. Without qualification, Kansas City Actors Theatre can and must do better because Kansas City Actors Theatre has been lousy at diversity of artistic and operational leadership, as well as diversity of programming and on-stage and behind-the-scenes representation during the entirety of its relatively brief history. No amount of past brainstorming, hand-wringing, failed plans, unimpressive steps forward, and mere hope make up for that. The time for OUR change, in the midst of societal change, is NOW.
In the days since our statement a week ago, our current operational committees and Board members have met numerous times to quickly strategize measurable actions to achieve real impact in the coming weeks, months, and for the future of this organization. This list below is growing and, most importantly, will expand in the coming weeks and months as new and diverse voices join this work.
· This summer, KCAT will add BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists and community professionals to its artistic, development, marketing, governance, and finance committees, as well as its ad hoc strategic planning and ad hoc event committees. The primary operational work of KCAT is strategized and executed at these committee levels, and KCAT leadership rises from these committee participants.
· This summer and fall, KCAT will also add BIPOC artists to its Board of Directors. The Board provides final approval on key committee actions and decisions, and there must be diverse artists serving at that level well before we can resume pandemic-paused programming.
· This summer, as KCAT re-strategizes its ever-changing, COVID-aware current season, we will reprogram with a commitment to diversity of storytelling and the artists who tell those stories.
· By the end of this calendar year, as KCAT re-strategizes its following season, we will reexamine evolving ideas with a commitment to expand our programming to reflect a diversity of storytelling and the artists who tell those stories.
· In partnership with local educational institutions as early as this fall, KCAT will commit itself to developing early-career BIPOC theatre artists and operational theatre professionals, including the creation of internships, mentorships, and paid production contracts beginning this season and permanently, designed to invest in BIPOC artists and encourage them to stay in Kansas City.
· Beginning immediately, Kansas City Actors Theatre will pursue directed funding to underwrite ticket expenses and cultivate more diverse audiences in our current and future seasons.
· In our current season, KCAT will reexamine every governance, finance, and operational policy through an anti-racism lens.
· In our current season, KCAT will make conscious efforts to evaluate our vendors for anti-racism and anti-oppression policies and practices.
· KCAT will continue to perpetuate and review safe workspaces, safe community, and zero-tolerance policies on discrimination, harassment, and oppression.
Kansas City Actors Theatre will do all of this with transparency. We understand where we have fallen short and that now is the time to put our good intentions into action. We appreciate the patience of the local artistic community, are thankful for its support, and welcome being held accountable.