ASHLAND, ORE.: Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has launched artEquity, a facilitator training initiative on inclusion and equity issues for theatre companies nationwide. The program, which will have its first retreats in September and October, is supported by a $145,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
“My experience is that when given the opportunity, people will usually seek out justice—every time,” said artEquity founder and director Carmen Morgan in a statement. “And that’s in part what this training is about. Our goal is to give participants tools and resources to explore where they have personal agency and how they can continue to use art to transform and confront structural and systemic barriers.”
The artEquity program will bring together a group of 25–35 theatre professionals annually to participate in analysis-building workshops and skills-based sessions. The cohort will be led by Ty Defoe (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Fellow at Theatre Communications Group), Lydia Garcia (resident dramaturg at OSF), Leslie Ishii (stage director and arts educator at Center Theatre Group) and Michael Robertson (managing director of the Lark Play Development Center). The two-week training will address issues of ally-building, identity and privilege, and share the best methods of facilitating organizational change for theatre groups. The cohort will also have the opportunity to participate in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s equity-based theatre experience through color-conscious casting, gender diversity and audience engagement. Nijeul Xaviere Porter will serve as artEquity’s Program Manager, with Morgan as lead facilitator.
“I am so proud to have OSF host artEquity’s inaugural sessions,” said artistic director Bill Rauch in a statement. “As a field, we must be better equipped to have the difficult, necessary and joyful conversations that are part of a commitment to true equity.”