Brown Box Theatre Project has heard the demands of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists in our industry, our communities, and our country as a whole. We have read the Demands for White American Theatre and are dissecting this critical document, reflecting on our organization, and taking action.
Section by section, we will gradually roll out our response and actions (planned and implemented, existing and future). We will transparently articulate our planned progress as it pertains to each demand emboldened in the document. When our means and/or capacity make us fall short of the demand, we will share how we plan to reach that goal and how we aim to address the concerns in the meantime. While not directly outlined in the document, we will also tackle specific BIPOC concerns as they pertain to our unique model as a touring, non-equity theatre that travels to a variety of regions/states.
Brown Box Theatre Project has an annual budget of less than $150,0000 and operates with one full time freelance administrator, and six part time freelance administrators. We have a board of five people. Our means and capacity are limited, but, in true Brown Box fashion, we choose to face this obstacle head on and approach change and growth creatively so that we serve our mission and our community as effectively as possible; we cannot do that without acknowledging and taking action in accordance with the BIPOC Demands on White American Theatre, as these actions are at the core of serving our mission and our communities.
Just as the demands are a living document, so is our response. We want to learn from successes and failures of other organizations in our industry; we want to evolve with the times and always strive to do and be better. Most importantly, we want to hear from everyone; your feedback is welcome, your guidance is appreciated, your criticisms will be heard. Action will be taken so that Brown Box Theatre Project can improve and be a part of the progress so desperately needed in our industry and our nation.
Brown Box Anti-Racism Statement
As theatre artists, we tell stories; we strive to build bridges and empathy between our audiences and others that do not look, pray, identify, live, or love the same way they do. Brown Box travels to share these perspectives in each community we serve through our art. We explicitly and directly ask our audiences to stand with those fighting against systemic racism in policing and in society at large. The violence against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are tragedies that point to ongoing and unaddressed failures within our nation.
Empathy is not enough. Accountability is crucial. Action is required.
Brown Box believes in accessibility and radical inclusivity. We are committed to combating systemic racism, unconscious or conscious biases, white supremacy, and discrimination within our organization and the populations we serve; whether areas we visit a few times a year or the communities in which we develop our art.
To all Black, Brown, Indigenous and POC artists, colleagues, and patrons, we stand with you. We commit to implementing the following actions, systems, and protocols within our organization.
- Artistic & Curatorial Practices
- Cultural Competency
- EDI + Touring
- Transparency, Compensation, Accountability, & Boards
- Working Conditions & Hiring Practices
- Brown Box agrees it is vital to create BIPOC-only social spaces to contradict the isolation and exclusion experienced by artists of color.
- Brown Box is committed to have an affinity space at each of our rehearsal venues.
- Brown Box will designate an affinity space at the communal housing property for BIPOC artists to congregate even when “off duty” but while on tour with a production.
- Brown Box will designate an affinity space at each venue. Due to our touring nature, we visit 40+ venues, many without access to indoor facilities. For those venues, we commit to having an air-conditioned vehicle to serve as our exclusive safe location where BIPOC artists can commune if/when needed at an outdoor performance.
- Brown Box produces two to three shows a season, varying in scale. As our model necessitates that one of these productions be a Shakespeare work, we commit to produce no less than one play written by a BIPOC playwright each season.
- Brown Box fully recognizes that BIPOC stories cannot be told without the involvement of BIPOC artists. We have no authority to tell stories that do not belong to us. As we are committed to refocusing the content of our stories to celebrate BIPOC voices, we guarantee that we will produce these works with BIPOC artists in positions of creative control.
- BIPOC artists’ perspective, artistry, and skill are valuable in all stories, not just those that specifically speak to their experience. We are committed to hiring BIPOC artists for every show in our season. We are monitoring our progress in this goal and setting up a means by which to hold ourselves accountable. Data surrounding these efforts will be updated HERE.
- We at Brown Box understand that BIPOC artists are not a monolith. In planning our seasons, we are committed to continually expanding representation, not just telling the same story time and again. In discussions about potential season selections, we are prioritizing plays that tell a story reflective of the whole human experience: joy, hope, loss, and heartache, rather than focusing solely on trauma and pain.
- When programming BIPOC stories, we fully commit to honoring the cultural specificity of those stories. A white director will never be hired to tell a story that does not belong to them.
- When hiring directors for plays by BIPOC playwrights, we will ensure that the director hired shares a cultural context with the work being produced. If a BIPOC director does not feel that the story they are helping bring to life aligns with their personal experience, we will hire a cultural consultant.
- Brown Box commits to hiring credible cultural consultants for culturally specific productions.
- Brown Box will hire intimacy directors for specific shows where there are traumatic or extended moments of intimacy. In plays that do not require the same level of attention, we commit to equipping directors/stage managers with proper IDI knowledge so that they may implement IDI principles wherever relevant.
Over the next five years, we commit to the following:
- Increasing the hiring of BIPOC designers on our production teams with the goal of exceeding our historical hiring percentages of BIPOC designers each year
- Building relationships with BIPOC designers and technicians in order to increase representation of BIPOC on our creative teams.
- In 2021, Brown Box will be mounting the productions previously scheduled in 2020 in hopes of honoring the contracts with our artists from the season postponed due to COVID-19. While most positions are filled, we will strive to hire any open positions with BIPOC designers/technicians.
- We commit to holding interviews with available artists to hire for an additional 2021 project.
- This project will be written, directed, performed, and designed by BIPOC artists. We hope to use a model of work that has been successful in the past to share new voices, meet new artists, and build working relationships with many new people with whom we have not previously worked.
- We will interview artists who may not be available for our 2021 season in hopes of building a relationship with them for future productions.
We understand that creative choices in presenting BIPOC stories cannot be made by white people in leadership positions. We commit that any notes given by white administrators to BIPOC artists will only deal with the effectiveness of production and will in no way assume creative control. The intention of notes from the Artistic Director will be solely to create a dialogue.
- In the telling of BIPOC stories, the creative ideas of our white administrators will never presume to supersede those of BIPOC directors, designers, or performers. We aim only to present a platform for BIPOC artists to tell their own stories. It will never be our intention to dictate how those stories should be told.
- When programming BIPOC stories, we recognize the importance of centering cultural specificity in every aspect of development. No part of pre-production, the rehearsal process, marketing, literary management, in-house dramaturgy, community and audience engagement, or audience development will be handled without the careful consideration and involvement of the culture of those whose stories we are telling.
- Brown Box commits to the artistic continuance of BIPOC work in our productions. We further commit that BIPOC work will not be changed or altered in any way once a production’s run begins.
- We commit that BIPOC actors and designers will have a greater presence in our productions as stated in Section 1: Cultural Competency.
- Brown Box budgets are solely based on tour length and production necessities. More on budgeting can be found HERE
- Other specific policies and procedures can be found within their relevant topic.
- Note that all policies and procedures are given in hard copy and digital form to all who are contracted to work with our organization and summarized at relevant gatherings such as board meetings, administrative meetings, and first rehearsals.
- Listing our Board members’ affiliations with corporations and other nonprofit organizations. Those affiliations will be listed here once the completed data is compiled.
- Prominently including descriptions of each venue’s history as laid out in Section 1: Cultural Competency with a QR code that will be in our program and on our front of house table. This QR code will go directly to the cultural competency page on our website. We will also include an insert in the program to acknowledge the venue’s history with Native Peoples and Enslaved peoples.
- Continuing our equitable payment standards for all artists. Brown Box does not have full-time or part-time employees; all administrators are freelance contractors. Brown Box guarantees that no contractor will receive disproportionately more favorable financial compensation than other artists in the same tier of employment. If the stipend provided to one member of a tier increases for any reason, the stipend of all artists under that tier contract will be raised to match. Click HERE to see our full payment protocol.
- Creating and maintaining transparency of our expectations, logistics, and any policies we require when working with our company through our Artist FAQ page. Just as our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work is a living document, so is our Artist FAQ page. We commit to updating, editing, and asking for feedback from each artist that works with us during each touring production. Visit our Artist FAQ page.
- Brown Box commits that all net profits and post show donations not otherwise delegated to alternative EDI commitments will be put toward continuing our efforts to produce BIPOC work and support BIPOC artists.
- Brown Box does not practice targeting fundraising.
- Brown Box commits to transparency of funds as it relates to BIPOC artists’ work. Administratively, Brown Box has no full time staff but hires all administrators as contractors. For artists involved in our productions, Brown Box has compiled Demographic Data on our casting since our founding in 2011, which can be found HERE. This data will be updated annually to quantitatively demonstrate our progress. We commit to supplementing this data to include stipends and amounts paid to BIPOC artists vs. White artists in all future seasons.
- Brown Box does not fundraise from any specific community for specific projects. We will continue to fund all projects with the company’s operational fund.
- Brown Box has never asked any tribal nations to donate money to produce their work. We commit to continue to stand against this practice.
Since Brown Box does not have staff (only freelance administrators), none of whom are full time employees or paid a salary, anyone working for Brown Box administratively will have a title, be paid in accordance to our payment standards and will be subject to the benefits and policies of all freelance personnel hired by the organization.
At this time, Brown Box has no full time staff and compensates all freelance administrators with a stipend. Brown Box commits to providing BIPOC administrators a 5% increase of that stipend to provide additional compensation for BIPOC staff working within a PWI in recognition of the increased labor intrinsically required.
- Brown Box will not put pressure on any BIPOC artist or staff member to assist with marketing, fundraising, etc. without proper compensation and credit. Brown Box has always valued and paid artists for their time and work to the greatest extent possible by our budget. We will always pay our artists and workers for their time and expertise.
- Anyone working for Brown Box will have a title, be paid in accordance to our payment standards and will be subject to the benefits and policies of all freelance personnel hired by the organization.
- Since Brown Box does not have staff (only freelance administrators), none of whom are full time employees or paid a salary, anyone working for Brown Box administratively will have a title, be paid in accordance to our payment standards and will be subject to the benefits and policies of all freelance personnel hired by the organization.
Brown Box will establish a quantitative evaluation report to be put in all administrator’s files during annual reviews in November. These evaluations will work in conjunction with anonymous peer reviews and reviews submitted by administrators’ direct superior. Administrators whose work demonstrates a meeting of standards will receive cost of living raises if applicable. Administrator’s whose work quantitatively exceeds expectations will be given a raise.
- Brown Box commits to maintaining our strict Anti-Discrimination & Harassment Policy as well as an anti-racism policy. These policies have been adopted to apply to the board as well. At this time there have been no reports of racist behavior by any of our board members.
- Brown Box commits to continuing our practice of eliminating minimum financial gifts for board membership. Our Board members are expected to play an active role in assisting the staff in securing financial resources necessary for Brown Box to achieve its mission. Board members are expected to leverage personal relationships and connections to help the development committee and staff identify and solicit potential investors. Brown Box acknowledges that there are many valuable ways to invest, not all of which are financial. While Brown Box requires 100% financial support from its board of directors, the amount of that investment is not specified and there is no mandatory financial minimum for said gift.
- Brown Box is committed to deprioritizing outsized monetary influence and instead valuing the voices and skills of BIPOC board members.
- Brown Box recognizes that artists are essential to boards. In June, we held a virtual Board Search Task Force meeting to begin cultivating relationships with artists from each community we serve. We commit to including BIPOC artists and professionals in our search, and hope to have 6-8 board members by the end of 2021 so that our board accurately reflects the excellence of BIPOC professionals.
- The contact information of a board representative will be included on all contact sheets in order to give creative personnel access to the board on an as-needed basis.
- Brown Box is committed to diversifying our staff and board. Once those two bodies reflect the standing excellence of BIPOC professionals, we will institute an in-house BIPOC committee to continue our efforts toward anti racist practices.
- Brown Box commits to partnering with new venues that are within majority BIPOC neighborhoods.
- We will work with organizations within BIPOC communities to distribute marketing materials to audiences we may not have reached otherwise.
- For the performances where tickets and reservations are required, we commit to working with our BIPOC organizational partners to market and provide early access to ticket reservation.
- We rely on our board of directors to uphold our articles of incorporation and bylaws as a 501(c) 3 organization.
- When telling stories unique to a racial or cultural identity, Brown Box commits to donating 5% of post-show donations to organizations that represent the interests of the community in question.
- Brown Box commits to publishing responses to any and all questions to our board regarding EDI.
Brown Box commits to increasing our representation of BIPOC artists, playwrights, directors, designers, tech, in all of our processes. We understand that Brown Box is in the early stages of forging sustainable, trust-based relationships with BIPOC artists, and that it will take time to demonstrate that our commitment is sincere and long-term.
- It is our hope that implementing the changes previously mentioned in this document, and continued transparency regarding both our successes and failures will lead to at least 50% BIPOC representation on every production.
- Within the next eight years, we are committed to including contractual diversity riders for every project that states that work will only be accepted if their department is at least 50% BIPOC.
- We acknowledge the validity of these claims and commit to never withhold grant funding or misuse the marketing materials of any collaborating BIPOC company. We will not exploit the life’s work of BIPOC artists with their own communities and community members by forcing them to raise money and produce the project for us. We will not make them pay us rent for a show which we proudly take credit for as part of our season. We acknowledge that BIPOC artists bring cultural authenticity and value to our seasons. When collaborating with BIPOC theatres, it will be an equitable partnership.
- Brown Box completes in-person, post show interviews with all production staff so as to learn how the organization has succeeded and fallen short on any given productions.
- We have implemented an anonymous review system where any person can submit feedback or concerns regarding any member of the administrative core or creative team. They can also submit criticisms of systems, operations, or protocols.
- See Section 1: Cultural Competency to see how Brown Box plans to hold ourselves accountable and demonstrate our progress through data and self analysis to increase the casting of BIPOC artists.
- See Section 2: Working Conditions & Hiring Practices to learn of our plans to increase BIPOC representation on our administrative team.
- See Section 2: Working Conditions & Hiring Practices to learn of our commitment to increasing diversity amongst our hosts and venues.
- Brown Box and Executive Director Kyler Taustin are committed to establishing a self-reliant organization that can operate successfully and effectively under any executive leadership. Our longevity and legacy rely on being able to execute an effective succession plan. While a succession plan is not part of our current strategic plan, we commit to including a succession plan and the revision of our bi-laws to include term limits for executive leadership within our 2024-2027 strategic plan.
- As a touring company committed to working in multiple regions, Brown Box operations include a variety of variables which are not always faced by other organizations, especially surrounding housing and transportation.
- At this time, Brown Box could not operate effectively without its current Executive leadership.
- Brown Box has relied heavily on its Executive Director, Kyler Taustin, and his connections in our service areas to expand our organization and for resources needed to operate in those regions.
- Brown Box has taken or is committed to taking the following steps to decrease its dependence on the resources and experiences of its Executive Director:
- Offering additional opportunities for new directors to lead productions
- Training and hiring a Scenic Supervisor who can manage the setup and breakdown of all sets at all performances
- Training and hiring individuals who can drive the truck and trailer to transport all production elements
- Delegating contact with existing venues to the tour manager
- Training Tour Management personnel on the search for new venues and pitching the organization to interested parties
- Delegating contractual matters, updates, and distributions to Producers
- Delegating matters of technical design management to the Managing Director/Production Manager
- Brown Box’s strategic plan involves the following actions so as to to decrease its dependence on the resources and experience of its ED.
- Purchasing a Bus for transport of all cast and crew
- Establishing a capital fund for the purchase of housing in our Delmarva Foothold
- While Brown Box pays rent for the housing in our Delmarva Foothold, this rent is not at market value due to a personal connection of the ED. We plan to increase budgets toward housing so that we can rent housing in our Delmarva Foothold at market value.
- Purchasing the truck that pulls our currently owned trailer
- Purchasing or renting storage at full market value
- Brown Box and Kyler Taustin are committed to establishing a self reliant organization that can operate successfully and effectively under any Executive leadership. Our longevity and legacy rely on being able to execute an effective succession plan. While a succession plan is not part of our current strategic plan, we commit to including a succession plan and the revision of our bi-laws to include term limits for executive leadership within our 2024-2027 strategic plan.
- No racially charged language or labels will be tolerated in the workplace or on any tours by creatives, casts, or management.
- All persons will be held to this standard at all times while under contract by BBTP whether in professional or social settings, online, or in person.
- Brown Box does not condone or accept the use of racial slurs in any way throughout its processes or at any time artists are employed by or representing Brown Box Theatre Project, whether in person or online.
- Any and all occasions where such language is used will result in the immediate dismissal of the offending party from the event, rehearsal, or meeting. The matter will be reported immediately and appropriate action will be taken in accordance with our Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policies. Such action will result in complete termination of the contract and dismissal from the project where appropriate.
Any and all failures to adhere to these guidelines are subject to review by Brown Box and appropriate action will be taken in accordance with our Anti-Harassment and Discrimation Policies.
- Brown Box travels into areas where Confederate flags are flown or used in marketing. While Brown Box does not condone the use of the Confederate flag or racist symbols, we believe our work is critical for the growth of empathy within our country as a whole especially in areas where these symbols are still prevalent.
- Brown Box commits to preparing BIPOC artists if/when we travel to these areas and will provide the time necessary to discuss or process before, upon arrival, and after the experience.
- Brown Box travels to locations that have little to no access to theatre, to serve our mission of arts accessibility. We acknowledge that Brown Box’s tour brings us to a few Sundown Towns, which were all white locations that practiced a form of segregation by excluding any non-white citizens via some combination of discriminatory local laws, intimidation, and violence. By providing productions that highlight unheard voices, we hope to educate and strive to spark meaningful conversations in these areas. The list of town’s we tour to that use to be Sundown Towns can be found below:
- Princess Anne, MD
- Wilmington, DE
- Chincoteague, VA
- Greenwood, IN
- Morgan County, IN
- Tipton, IN
To find more information, please see Section 1: Cultural Competency for a detailed description of the history of each venue we travel to.
Brown Box Acknowledges what effect traveling to these areas can have on our BIPOC artists. With this in mind, we have linked below some resources and methods of self care and healing for our artists.
- Brown Box acknowledges that systemic racism places additional barriers before BIPOC artists within the education system and previous technical experience may not have been accessible.
- Brown Box stands by its practice of allowing each candidate’s individual merits to speak for themselves, free of association from hierarchical and exclusionary criteria, such as where they went to school or whether they have associated with an institution we admire. This same standard applies to the technical requirements of the job, previous experience is not required and all training will be provided to all parties within the process so that all can be effective and efficient at their technical responsibilities.
Because Brown Box tours through five states, participants in the tour should be prepared to encounter a variety of cultural attitudes and norms.
- Confederate flags and other racist imagery are not uncommon in certain regions of our tour. We recognize that the proliferation of such imagery may take a deeper toll on some artists than others.
- Our mission is to bring theater to areas with little or no access to the arts. Serving communities that may not have another chance to see and identify with an experience outside of their own is a vital part of that mission. While we believe that serving these communities is important, we do not want any artist to feel thrown into a situation that would make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. To that end, we have compiled a detailed list of the towns we tour and the history that those spaces hold. This can be found on the “Section 1: Cultural Competency” section of our website. We highly recommend all those who wish to tour with us familiarize themselves with this list in order to better prepare themselves and to understand the areas that they will encounter.
- If the history or demographics of this area make interacting directly with community members feel uncomfortable or unsafe, we commit to offering the option to opt out of donation collection at this performance entirely.
- Brown Box will have all actors and crew fill out a preference form for any housing and transportation requests.
- Brown Box will designate one car on tour as an affinity space at venues. BIPOC actors and technicians may use this space as needed.
- Once on tour, the Company Manager will check in with all actors and crew periodically to discuss any questions, concerns, or requests that may arise. The amount of check ins will depend upon the length of the tour.
- If anyone is not comfortable discussing a question or concern with the company manager, Brown Box will also have a DEI officer on all tours moving forward as well as an anonymous survey where concerns can be submitted.
- FOR DESIGNERS/SMs/TECHNICIANS: The director and any accepted offers made for the production team will be fully disclosed when offers are made for production positions to ensure a full awareness of who will be in the room to allow BIPOC artists the agency to choose their collaborators based on past experience and community reputation.
- FOR ACTORS: Directors, Stage Managers, designers, choreographers, fight and intimacy directors, and their associates will be fully disclosed when offers are made to ensure a full awareness of who will be in the room to allow BIPOC artists the agency to choose their collaborators based on past experience and community reputation.
- Brown Box provides all designers with an extensive inventory list. We will also provide a virtual walk-through of inventory upon request. Because our inventories are housed in a variety of locations (Massachusetts and Maryland), an in-person walk through is not possible. Due to the touring nature of Brown Box, we are unable to provide walk throughs of spatial configurations, as all venues are different. To assist with this, we guarantee designers the same amount of space so their design can be consistent and executed at every venue.
- Brown Box will continue to operate with a five day, 20 hour rehearsal week, with rehearsals taking place from 6-10pm. Tech week calls are earlier due to set up and break down of the set/lighting. We provide weekly schedules at least two weeks in advance to allow artists to coordinate their work and other commitments accordingly. Artists are only called for rehearsal when their scenes are scheduled, and we strive to ensure at least one weeknight off per artist.
- Our model requires that all personnel are a part of set-up and break down of all technical elements. We are committed to teaching technical skills within the rehearsal process to limit the need for multiple 10 out of 12 rehearsals. At this time, Brown Box processes are limited to one 10 out of 12 rehearsal per production so that set-up, breakdown, and light programming can occur. We commit to a tech week that upholds the following:
- a day off between final rehearsal and the first day of tech
- only one 10 out of 12 rehearsal
- a day off after every 18 hours of technical rehearsal
- a maximum of 6 hour tech days, excluding the 10/12 rehearsal
- Brown Box is committed to scheduling the appropriate amount of time to adequately develop a piece and often develops projects that may take longer than what is typical for an equity rehearsal process.
- Based on our hours of rehearsal, the demands for flexibility on our artists as a touring production, as well as our desire to curate fully realized productions that can tour, we have established calendars that can be flexible to allow for the time deemed necessary by producers and the director to develop a piece.
- By not setting demands on the number of shows per season, we allow for seasonal, project based adjustments to the calendar. This allows us to circumvents the need for a professional “shorthand” which allows us to work with new people and creates a culture that allows room for BIPOC collaborators to voice concerns.
- Brown Box has open auditions for every production and consistently hires new artists. In order to hold ourselves accountable through data, Brown Box has compiled statistics of new and returning hires for our last 5 seasons. This data can be found HERE. This data will be updated annually to quantitatively demonstrate our progress.
- Brown Box’s EDI committee is made up of our entire administrative core. As a small company, we feel it is best for all parties to be actively engaged in our growth and improvement surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- A specific, non project based, sub-committee will be responsible for the maintaining, updating, and upholding of the terms and actions outlined in our Brown Box Anti Racism Statement and responses to the BIPOC Demands for White American Theatre. This cohort will handle all inquiries, complaints, and reports surrounding issues of racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion amongst administrators, production personnel, and audiences.
- Each Brown Box production will have one EDI officer & Cast/Crew Deputy, who will be elected by a vote of the touring cast and crew of that show at first rehearsal. During the rehearsal process, this individual will be an additional resource for all members of the company to report any circumstances where the process, Brown Box, or any individual member of the company fails to fulfill their contractual obligations or does not uphold the diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, anti-discrimination, or drug and alcohol policies of Brown Box Theatre Project. Prior to the start of the production’s tour, another vote will be taken to either keep the Deputy or to choose a new one, who will take over the position during the remainder of the process. Any member of the cast/crew can volunteer to be considered to be the deputy. No member of the Brown Box administrative team can serve as Deputy.
- As a small company who cannot provide health care or full time salaries for any of our administrators, we do not have the financial capabilities to provide estate and financial planning. Once Brown Box reaches our internal goals to have sustainable and full time employment available, we will prioritize these benefits for all staff.
- Brown Box commits to having BIPOC candidates comprise the majority of the final candidate pool for all positions. Furthermore, Brown Box commits that all positions will be filled with BIPOC candidates until our administrative team accurately reflects the standing excellence of BIPOC professionals.
- Developing and implementing an equitable and transparent process for all executive leadership hires and structural leadership changes.
- Diversifying finalist pools for executive leadership positions.
- Brown Box does not have the means to hire executive search firms but commits to requiring BIPOC consultants to lead searches if/when we hire such a firm.
- Establishing a diverse pool of BIPOC candidates for leadership of Brown Box.
- Building relationships with and hiring BIPOC artists from our local area.
- See the action items as outlined in section 1: Cultural Competency
- Never using one less-than-positive experience with a BIPOC artist as an excuse not to engage other BIPOC artists or that same artist.
- Only using language that is free of unconscious bias in all production job descriptions, including eliminating language such as “years of experience” or “commensurate upon experience.”
- Continuing our practice to not have an education requirement for production job descriptions.
- Continuing to not use the term “most favored nations” or use contract riders.
- Brown Box has never used the Rooney Rule.
- Brown Box is committed to a diverse candidate pool for all positions. We will actively publish notices across an array of hiring platforms as well as seek out recommendations and references from local leaders and organizations.
- At Brown Box, we understand the importance of intersectionality. We, therefore, separate our various commitments to diversity. We are not ignoring the importance of hiring women and people from the LGBTQ+ community, but our pledge to BIPOC artists will not be conflated with these other efforts.
Our current staff fails to adequately reflect the community that we hope to serve. In order to correct this historic imbalance, Brown Box has made a commitment that all new administrative and governance hires will be BIPOC professionals for the foreseeable future. It is our hope that this initiative will lead to BIPOC professionals filling the majority of leadership roles by 2025.
- Brown Box fully commits to all new administrative hires being BIPOC professionals.
- The Board of Brown Box, as our governing body, is a critical variable in our leadership. Board Development has been a major hurdle for our organization. For several years, we have sought to build a board that both reflects the communities we serve while also having a group able to tackle the unique challenges of our growing operation. Brown Box recently completed a Board Search Task Force and will be growing our board to 6-8 members by 2021. Brown Box is committed to building our board of directors to accurately reflect the communities we serve and will continue this effort until our board demonstrates the standing excellence of BIPOC leadership.
- Brown Box stands by its practice of allowing each candidate’s individual merits to speak for themselves, free of association from hierarchical and exclusionary criteria, such as where they went to school or whether they have associated with an institution we admire.
- We commit to creating job specific practical applications that will allow applicants to demonstrate their ability to do the work required for the position for which they are applying, thus limiting/eliminating the reliance on resumes.
- For administrators: Brown Box will require candidates demonstrate their abilities through department based skill assessments:
- Marketing: Candidates can submit sample social media posts for an upcoming show, links to media/marketing campaigns they completed previously, or a sample press release.
- Literary: Potential hires may submit a list of plays they believe would be ideal candidates for a Brown Box production, curate a sample Brown Box season, and/or be prepared to demonstrate their reasoning for selection.
- Producers: Candidates can present a cover letter to demonstrate pitching the company and what we have to offer to candidates for creative positions.
- Education: Candidates can submit a lesson plan for previous class/workshop or create one that mimics the Brown Box model or position for which they are applying.
- Development: Candidates can submit a writing sample pitching the company to a donor or grantor for a project or operating grant, demonstrating a concise summary of our organization, mission, and model.
- For Technicians & Designers: Candidates can submit their portfolios, models, and paperwork to demonstrate their artistic work on previous productions.
- For Directors: Directing candidates can submit a director’s book for a previous production or the show for which they are applying, video of previous directorial projects, Idea boards, and references.
- For performers, we commit to not take headshots or resumes into the audition room for first round auditions. Headshots and other materials will only be looked at once an actor is under consideration for a role based solely on the initial audition.
- In addition to these new hiring practices, Brown Box administrators will be required to see more theatre made by BIPOC artists with the goal to expand our practical knowledge of BIPOC artists’ work in our community. Through this first hand knowledge of the community’s work, Brown Box administrators will endeavor to establish relationships with new and emerging BIPOC artists.
- For administrators: Brown Box will require candidates demonstrate their abilities through department based skill assessments:
Brown Box commits to eliminating a culture of agreement and establishing instead a culture that welcomes all perspectives, feedback, and criticism. Furthermore, we are committed to diversifying our administrative and creative teams to eliminate tokenization. To combat a culture of agreement we will:
- Build a yearly anonymous review system of all administrative staff and monthly anonymous feedback opportunities, encouraging all staff to express their opinions.
- Build in a time buffer between major decisions and their execution so that anonymous concern can be brought to the attention of Executive Staff in any case that retrospective analysis, fear of retribution, or the burden of being “the only one” prevented open expression during initial discussions.
- Brown Box has never received a Diversity Grant.
- Brown Box has always valued and paid artists for their time and work to the greatest extent possible by our budget. We will always pay our artists and workers for their time and expertise.
- Brown Box will no longer have any interns. Since Brown Box does not have staff (only freelance administrators), none of whom are full time employees or paid a salary, anyone working for Brown Box administratively will have a title, be paid in accordance to our payment standards and will be subject to the benefits and policies of all freelance personnel hired by the organization.
- Additionally, Brown Box has committed to creating structural opportunities for dissent within meetings. Creating a dedicated space and time for constructive feedback encourages conversation, rather than relying on individual bravery in raising a contradictory opinion.
- Brown Box’s Literary Department is currently made up of one person. In our next literary hire, we commit to hiring a BIPOC candidate, either as an addition when funds become available, or as a replacement for the current role. Until that time, we are taking various steps to check our own internal biases and blind spots.
- Our inclusion of diverse stories has historically been severely lacking. Moving forward we are committed to including at least one play by a BIPOC playwright in each season, effective immediately.
- Plays by BIPOC authors submitted for consideration in season planning now outnumber plays by white authors by two to one.
- We have revamped our selection process to include anonymous feedback forms, allowing any dissent to be voiced without hesitation.
- We are implementing practices to prioritize BIPOC audiences in the communities we serve. In years past, we have largely relied on our host organizations to handle much of our audience outreach. We have developed marketing materials and coordinated distribution of said materials to the organizations hosting us. It has become clear to us that this limits the audiences we reach to the communities within the scope of our partner organizations.
- We have begun implementing a new strategy to expand our audiences, specifically prioritizing BIPOC communities. At the beginning of season 10 our staff began researching community centers, outreach programs, and cultural organizations beyond our host organizations that represent BIPOC interests in the regions we serve. We have been reaching out to these organizations to find common ground in our missions and build relationships with them. Our short term goal is to work with these organizations in distributing our marketing materials to audiences we may not have reached otherwise. We believe this will serve our long term goal of generally having stronger relationships with BIPOC audiences.
- At this time Brown Box does not have the capacity to hire marketing consultants of any kind. When, however, we reach a point in our growth as a company that we are able to afford external marketing support, we commit to seeking BIPOC consultants.
- At Brown Box our marketing budget for each of our productions is largely the same. When there is variance, it depends solely on the number of performances and technical needs of productions. It is in no way affected by the content of the performance, by the personnel involved in the project, nor by the communities and venues we are serving.
We will continue to equitably execute our marketing with an effective schedule for all productions. The only factor that affects our timeline for promotion is our performance dates for each venue.
- Brown Box will continue to function without a “mainstage/second stage” model.
- Brown Box produces up to three shows a season, one of those being our annual free summer Shakespeare. Our largest production each year is our Summer Shakespeare Production. Due to his name recognition and prevalence in English education, Shakespeare and his plays are a gateway into communities with little or no professional live theatre within the area. This flagship production each season affords our organization the opportunity to establish relationships with new communities and the financial stability to later produce non-classical texts and share the diverse array of styles, voices, and stories our medium has to offer.
- While the length of tours of our non-Shakespeare tours are shorter, we are committed to having equitable payment standards and budgeting for our other productions. It is critical to note that many of our indoor venues have smaller footprints than our outdoor venues and increased budgets are necessary to fulfill the audio and visual demands of an outdoor space. Brown Box is committed to quality standards across all our programming and will commit the funds necessary to maintain those standards relative to the physical limitations of our venues.
- All Brown Box staff are included in season curation as a Literary Committee. Brown Box’s new model has the literary manager present the committee with a list of plays for consideration. Each member is required to read all plays, fill out an anonymous form regarding the play, determining if the play fulfills Brown Box’s standards (EDI, tourability, and artistic merit). The plays are then discussed in length. This Literary Committee, under the leadership of the Artistic Director and Literary Manager, will recommend a season for production.
- To make sure any biases are not demonstrated in our play selection, we are taking the following actions:
- Each season will include at least one play by a BIPOC author.
- When considering selections for the season, plays by BIPOC authors will outnumber those by white authors two to one.
- Choosing plays based on whether they speak to the readers own experience inherently means that the same story will be told time and time again and thus perpetuates the culture in which white American theater is allowed to survive. In an attempt to subvert our own internal biases, personal connection or identification with a play will no longer be criteria by which a play is judged.
- Our largest production each year is our Summer Shakespeare Production. Due to his name recognition and links to English education, Shakespeare and his plays are a gateway into communities with little or no professional live theatre within the area. This flagship production each season affords our organization the opportunity to prove artistic excellence and the financial stability to later produce non-classical texts and share the diverse array of styles, voices, and stories our medium has to offer.
- Brown Box acknowledges that the history of Eurocentrism in Shakespeare often leads to exclusion and racism within our industry. We will combat this by:
- Reimagining Shakespeare’s texts and moving away from a puritanical approach
- Never producing or including text that is racist; Brown Box does not subscribe to the ideology that we are bound to perform and justify even the most out-of-date and/or out of touch components of the Bard’s canon. We refuse to propagate racism under the guise of classics purism or a historical defense.
- Brown Box acknowledges that the history of Eurocentrism in Shakespeare often leads to exclusion and racism within our industry. We will combat this by:
- Brown Box stands by its equitable payment standards for all artists. Brown Box guarantees that no contractor will receive proportionately more favorable financial compensation than other artists in the same tier of employment. If the stipend provided to one member of a tier increases for any reason, the stipend of all artists under that tier contract will be raised to match. Click HERE to see our full payment protocol.
- Brown Box commits to diversifying its marketing staff. Brown Box’s Marketing Department is currently made up of one person. In our next marketing hire, we commit to hiring a BIPOC candidate, either as an addition when funds become available, or as a replacement for the current role.
- At this time Brown Box has no full time staff but hires all administrators as contractors.
- Brown Box acknowledges our failure in maintaining a diverse administrative team. We are committed to hiring BIPOC persons for any additional positions until our administrative core reflects the standing of excellence of BIPOC professionals.
- Brown Box cannot currently afford employee search firms, but we intend to use all free public forums and internal recruitment efforts to fill all open positions with BIPOC administrators.
- Brown Box recognizes its current lack of clearly defined career pathways within the institution. Once Brown Box reaches our internal goals to have sustainable employment and full time employment available, we will offer clear and transparent career tracks with defined goals and processes for advancement.
- Brown Box commits to only using marketing materials that accurately reflect the racial makeup of our staff and programming.
- Brown Box will update its contracts to limit the terms by which artists must give up their likeness to the last five years after their employment date with the exception of retrospectives, though we will give each artist the option of opting out of lending their image to those as well.
- Brown Box commits uphold the casting requirements of all playwrights especially BIPOC writers so that casts accurately reflect the characters being portrayed.
- Brown Box will hire a BIPOC casting director for all productions to work alongside the Producing team so that our casting team consists of a collective of diverse perspectives and experiences and the casting team better reflects the pool of talent auditioning for our productions.
- The entire casting team will hold Brown Box accountable to the aforementioned commitments while also assisting in being sure our casts accurately reflect the standing excellence of BIPOC actors.
- Brown Box will interrogate the internal bias that has traditionally allowed “white” to be the default race in casting. Unless a character is specifically denoted as white by the playwright and that whiteness bears a significant role in the script, all roles at Brown Box are open to all actors.
- All of Brown Box’s shows are general seating and work on a first come, first served basis. Currently Brown Box does not give any special treatment to specific audience members.
- Press is given priority seating. Any members of the press can contact Brown Box with a day they would like to come to our productions, and we will provide a press packet, fulfill interview requests, and reserve prime seating at the selected performance.
- We commit to expand our opening night invitations to include new and upcoming BIPOC reviewers.
- Brown Box’s Marketing and PR personnel contact information is included on the company contact sheets to establish a direct line of communication between marketing and creative teams. This direct line of communication allows BIPOC artists to express their concerns over their portrayal in marketing materials. BIPOC marketers will also be given contact information for the producers and creative teams to allow them to express their concerns with production content and portrayal. An anonymous reporting form as well as the EDI Official & Cast/Crew Deputy are available as alternative routes of reporting/expression if preferred.
- All Brown Box venues will be welcoming and inclusive to BIPOC artists and patrons.
- We maintain relationships with donors and board members through personal connection. We commit to building similar personal relationships with leaders of BIPOC community organizations in the areas we serve.
- In order to serve our mission of increasing arts accessibility, many of our performances are completely free to the public. When productions require us to charge ticket prices, we have committed to a maximum ticket price of $25. We regularly examine our pricing structure to ensure there is no barrier between our audiences and our work. Our development department will research and apply for any and all corporate, foundational financial support in order to help decrease our ticket prices as much as possible.
- Brown Box aims to acquire the corporate and foundational support necessary so that all performances will be completely free for our audience members following the model of our annual Shakespeare production.
- Brown Box commits to holding our venues accountable for
- fostering inclusive environments for artists and audience members.
- their history as a site and acknowledgement of the indigenous and/or enslaved peoples who inhabited the land on which they program
- Brown Box commits to partnering with new venues that are within majority BIPOC neighborhoods.
- For the performances where tickets and reservations are required, we commit to working with our BIPOC organizational partners to provide and market early access to ticket reservation.
- Brown Box’s mission of arts accessibility does not support holding exclusive events for donors or board members. Excepting the rare instance of privately commissioned work, we are committed to making all of our programming and events accessible and inclusive.
- At this time Brown Box does not create any kind of publications for distribution to our audiences outside our regular marketing materials and social media accounts. We do, however, commit to creating content for these platforms that prioritizes BIPOC audiences.
- For the performances where tickets are required, our seating is general admission, and handled on a first come, first serve basis. We recognize that this practice can be exclusionary as it prioritizes people with the foreknowledge and free time to arrive especially early for performances.
- Brown Box commits to provide free tickets to members of Native communities whose traditional homelands are serving as our performance spaces. For productions where we do not charge for tickets, we will still reach out to these communities to offer invitations to our free performances.
We recognize and acknowledge the enslaved Africans, who have lived, been subjugated to free labor, and toiled the grounds where our activities take place. Please see the table below of all counties we serve or will serve in 2021 across five states where we acknowledge the history of the areas and specific sites where we perform
Brown Box acknowledges its failure to reach the 50% threshold of BIPOC artists working on our projects. Over the next 5 years, we are committed to:
- Increasing the casting of BIPOC performers in our contemporary productions with the goal of exceeding our historical casting percentages of BIPOC artists each year in our contemporary productions until our casts accurately reflect the standing excellence of BIPOC actors.
- Increasing the casting of BIPOC artists in our Shakespeare productions with the goal of exceeding our historical casting percentages of BIPOC artists each year in our Shakespeare productions until our casts accurately reflect the standing excellence of BIPOC actors. In addition to this, we guarantee said increase is not achieved solely through the casting of BIPOC actors in supporting roles.
- Holding ourselves accountable through data and self analysis. Brown Box has compiled Demographic Data on our casting since our founding in 2011. This data can be found HERE. This data will be updated annually to quantitatively demonstrate our progress.
For Season Selection:
- Producing seasons that have no less than one play by a BIPOC playwright
- Building relationships with BIPOC designers and technicians in order to increase representation of BIPOC on our creative teams
- In 2021, Brown Box will be mounting the productions previously scheduled in 2020 in hopes of honoring the contracts with our artists from the season postponed due to covid-19. While most positions are filled, we will strive to hire any open positions with BIPOC designers/technicians.
- We commit to hold interviews with available artists to hire for an additional 2021 project.
- This project will be a project written, directed, performed, and designed by BIPOC artists. We hope to use a model of work that has been successful in the past to share new voices, meet new artists, and build working relationships with many new artists with whom we have not previously worked.
- We will interview artists who may not be available for our 2021 season in hopes of building a relationship with them for future productions.
Our action to fulfill these commitments are further outlined within “Section 2: Working Conditions and Hiring Practices.” These will be released in the coming weeks.
- We will prioritize hiring contract workers who have gone through EDI, Anti-Racism, and BIPOC training. All applications & audition sheets with ask applicants and auditionees if they have this training so that we can uphold this commitment.
- We have developed Intervention & Disruption Protocol for harmful moments which can be found HERE and enforced in conjunction with our Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policy
- As of April 2021, all Brown Box Administrators will have completed a 6 month EDI training program with 901 Consulting.
- Brown Box Commits to adding a line item to our annual operating budget for Anti-racism education and consultation year after year.
- Executive Director and Associate Managing director will get this training as soon as possible so that existing protocols can be even more effective
- Current Brown Box policy requires that all relevant communications between actor and technician be made through or under the supervision of the Stage Manager so that our organization can effectively create a safe environment and confirm that any micro-aggressions, biases, or racist remarks are not voiced.
- Since our means do not currently allow for all parties to receive the appropriate training, we are committed to a system where all matters are filtered through personnel who have been appropriately trained.
- Since our inception, Brown Box has been committed to paying and recognizing all artists for their work. While we cannot pay union rates, we remain committed to paying all artists the highest stipend possible for our organization. Brown Box is committed to a fair, equitable, and transparent payment model which can be found HERE.
- We will continue to recognize all contracted artists and administrators for their work in our programs and online for every production.
- We do not have ushers or audience policing staff at our events
- We will collaborate with our school hosts to promote and support all audience responses so that students are both respectful to all performers while also being permitted to express themselves during a performance. Our Anti-Audience Policing Protocols can be found HERE.
- At this time, Brown Box cannot afford EDI and Anti-Racism training for all our front of house workers. Brown Box, however, commits to the following actions:
- Brown Box has established a fund to which supporters can donate toward EDI and Anti-Racism training. These funds will be restricted and will only be used for this purpose.
- 10% of donations after our shows will be set aside to fund EDI and Anti-Racism training
- Brown Box does not subscribe to the idea of the “diversity” project, selecting a single show in our season to fulfill the demands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instead, we hope to diversify our programming with BIPOC stories, led by BIPOC artists, so that relationships may be built and consistent, meaningful, long term employment can be achieved for these BIPOC theatre makers across our entire season.
- Brown Box has always been a stepping-stone for young artists, often providing the first professional theatre experience and training outside of college for many of our artists. We see this as an opportunity to play an active role in the growth and training of up and coming BIPOC artists.
- We commit to providing opportunities for young BIPOC artists in the positions of Associate Producer, Assistant. Literary Manager, Development, Tour Marketing & Social Media Manager, Community Outreach Manager, and Guest Teaching Artists in order to provide paid “gap-training” and resume building for up and coming BIPOC artists. By investing in these BIPOC administrators through peer mentorship, we are investing in the future leadership of Brown Box and our industry as a whole.
- All our directors have free interpretive reign over the pieces for which they are hired, including but not limited to existing work created by white artists.
- Brown Box commits to only produce work by playwrights who themselves or their estates uphold these same values.
At this time, Brown Box cannot afford the appropriate hair and make-up training for our technicians. Brown Box currently cannot afford to hire any hair and makeup artists nor purchase hair and make-up products for any of our artists; we acknowledge that this places an inequitable burden on BIPOC artists. Brown Box commits to the following:
- We will start a restricted fund to which patrons can donate to directly support a Hair & Make-up Stipend Program at Brown Box. This fund will provide an additional stipend to artists who choose to wear make-up or require hair styling for one of our productions in order to partially cover the costs of these products/services.
- 5% of post-show donations will be put into this restricted fund.
- We will prioritize hiring costume designers with the appropriate training who can give equitable guidance and advice to Black actors
- Hiring culturally competent facilitators for BIPOC stories at talkbacks
- Ensuring that BIPOC work has the audience for which it was intended, including but not limited to budgeting accordingly so that marketing to all communities is prioritized
- Budgeting shows with BIPOC artists appropriately
- Fostering an environment where concerns and complaints can be made freely without fear of retribution. Moving forward we are adapting and implementing a technique used in IDI training. As a team we will develop a nonverbal signal that, when used, indicates that the artist in question needs a moment to step away from the work. Use of this signal will not require explanation or clarification on the part of the artist and can be used whenever necessary
- All policies and procedures will be digitally disseminated to all who are contracted to work with our organization. They will be linked in the agenda of relevant gatherings, such as board meetings and administrative meetings, and hard copies will be distributed at first rehearsals.
- Protecting the body, spirit, and mental well-being of our artists. Whatever time they need is to be given to them, and discussion of the surrounding circumstance is only to be broached and led by the artist in question when, and if, they find such discussion to be necessary. The use of this signal will also be introduced at an administrative level.
- Stopping the tokenization or fetishization of BIPOC artists and their work, especially for donor dollars
- Dispelling any threat of retaliation when artists advocate for the cultural specificity of their work
- Discouraging lateral violence by creating a unified collaborative amongst and including all BIPOC artists
- Welcoming BIPOC perspectives and critique without judgment
- Valuing BIPOC artists for their worth
- Promoting and amplifying work by BIPOC in our community whether or not produced by our organization
- Honoring and valuing the lived experiences of BIPOC artists
- Honoring BIPOC elders and their work
- While Brown Box cannot afford therapists and counselors for BIPOC artists when producing content that deals with racialized experiences and/or trauma, we commit to prioritizing our search for a board member who could provide this service on an as-needed basis.