Our 1 Year BLM/DEI Statement
First Year Pegasus Theatre DEI Progress Report
A year ago Pegasus Theatre was challenged to take a hard look inward at our company and our history. After more than 30 years of doing things the same way, we realized something needed to change. We saw that it wasn’t enough to be non-racist, to undo the harm our actions have caused members of historically underrepresented and marginalized communities we needed to be actively anti-racist. Thus, we made a commitment to work to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our productions and in our community. This statement is our progress report.
We believe that Black Lives Matter and that theatres have an obligation to use their resources and privilege to fight systems of oppression in order to create a safe space at all levels for diverse voices to be heard. This is the journey we have undertaken, and we are far from done. We are filled with gratitude to the BIPOC theatre community for their help along the way. With their guidance, we’ve taken an extensive look at ourselves and how we operate.
Through this, we’ve learned so much, including:
- Don’t start the journey towards diversity and inclusion if you aren’t willing to change.
- If making changes is comfortable, you probably aren’t changing enough.
- Explaining why things are the way they are is a dead end. Let it go.
- If your efforts to diversify haven’t gotten results, work harder, listen to people of the global majority, and be willing to try something different.
- If you come from a place of privilege, you have to ask for help and be willing to do the work! Someone speaking from privilege can’t possibly imagine what individuals from underrepresented communities face in their efforts to ply their craft.
- If you’re talking more than listening, stop talking.
We’ve also accomplished a few things. We…
- Created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and three working groups in an effort to move the needle on representation, creating a safe space, and youth outreach.
- Changed our code of conduct to more explicitly call out racism in all forms as unacceptable at Pegasus Theatre.
- Advised our directors to shift from color-blind casting to color-conscious casting, with the goal that we will continue auditioning until we can cast the show with talented, strong, diverse representation.
- Created a paid DEI advocate position to be present on all productions and to advise staff on maintaining a safe space for all individuals from the first production meeting all the way through strike.
- Added paid BIPOC readers to our audition process in an effort to actively create a more inclusive and welcoming room for auditioning actors.
- Began tracking metrics for representation in both our auditions and our productions.
- Invited our DEI Committee Chair to attend, participate in, and provide feedback at all board meetings.
- Began a search for BIPOC and additional more diverse board members with common interests in theatre and a willingness to engage with us in our overall efforts as a Board and as a Theatre.
With all that said, we know that there is still so much more work to be done to become an actively anti-racist theatre. We are committed to building bridges with members from underrepresented communities and commit to increasing representation in all aspects of our theatre. Our hope is that we will earn the trust of artists of the global majority so that our organization can move the diversity, equity, and inclusion needle forward. To that end, we are designing a free workshop in an effort to teach the unique acting style that is needed for our Living Black & White shows and develop a more robust opportunity for new actors to be cast in what are traditionally our most successful shows. We plan to produce more work by BIPOC playwrights, actively support other theatres’ work, and form more relationships within the DFW theatre community. We are also working on plans to try to engage youth in our community in development of technical theatre skills and hopefully opportunities to shadow our behind-the-scenes work. Our own education on how to be inclusive and anti-racist will also continue, with formal training for board and staff planned for later this year.
We are more diverse today than we were a year ago, but not as diverse as we intend to be a year from now and into the future. We take responsibility for our past and commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion moving forward. We will work to make our journey more transparent to those outside the theatre to better assess and improve our efforts on our way. We believe we have taken positive steps in the right direction and invite our audience, supporters, and friends in DFW theatre to learn and grow along with us. Together we can make a better, safer, more inclusive community.