NEW YORK CITY: The Dramatists Guild of America has announced the creation of its first “Inclusion Rider,” a resource aimed at supporting dramatists and producers who want to foster more equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist principles in the hiring of personnel involved in their productions.
“We are thrilled to be rolling out the first Inclusion Rider of its kind, which advocates for full diversity and full inclusion in theatres of all sizes and locations across the country,” said Christine Toy Johnson, DG treasurer and chair of the Guild’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, in a statement. “By providing this voluntary resource and tool to our members, the Guild hopes to provide an effective option for writers to use to ensure that our value systems are aligned with our producing collaborators and that our authorial rights to assemble our creative teams and casts are upheld. We remain committed to finding ways in which to foster an industry that is reflective and respectful of the entirety of our population and to create a more complete and authentic landscape of storytelling.”
Dramatists may choose to employ this rider and work with their producer to audition, interview, cast, and hire members of historically excluded groups. The rider is intended to facilitate a conversation between the writer and the producer about equitable hiring practices, and may be attached to any agreement with a producer or theatre intending to produce that writer’s play or musical. The rider itself includes hiring objectives for cast, crew, creative team, and artistic personnel, as well as recommendations for best practices for conducting auditions and interviews.
The rider was conceived and created by the DG’s business affairs department alongside a special task force of DG staff, committee, and council members. In addition to Johnson and DG council president Amanda Green, the task force included Aisha DeCoteau, Ty Defoe, Chisa Hutchinson, Todd London, Emily Mann, Ralph Sevush, Emmanuel Wilson, Doug Wright, and Amy VonMacek.
“I am so proud of the work the Dramatists Guild’s legal staff and our diversity, equity, and inclusion committee have done to create this Inclusion Rider,” said Green in a statement. “It is a meaningful step towards true equity in theatre, empowering theatre writers to use our rights of hiring approval to advocate for fuller diversity and inclusion throughout our industry. Encompassing all historically excluded communities and available to all our members, it can be used for productions not only on Broadway and NYC, but around the country and in theatres of all sizes.”
Added Hutchinson in a statement, “I hope to see every writer and every producer I know rocking a ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Stop Asian Hate’ decal on their profile pics putting this rider to use. It’s a great way to put principles into practice.”
The rider, in addition to encouraging compliance with these principles, is an acknowledgement by the producer that an author exercising their approval rights to achieve these goals is both reasonable and permissible. The rider is designed to be a living document that will evolve as the industry continues to move toward more equitable and inclusive practices.
“The Inclusion Rider gives authors a much needed tool—easily tailored for each writer and producer—to ensure equity in any given production,” said Guild councilmember Mann in a statement. “However, the individual artists and producers wish to use it—as a reference, as a way to start a dialogue, or as part of a contract—the Inclusion Rider promises to be a useful instrument in our quest for powerful change in the American theatre.”
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