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Racial Justice Commitments


An Open Letter Regarding Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Commitments to Racial Justice

Approved by Pittsburgh Public Theater Board of Trustees on December 14, 2020

To our artists, audiences, and greater community:

Pittsburgh Public Theater aims to serve as a true public theater by creating diverse theatrical experiences in a responsible way to engage and elevate our entire region. In response to the powerful call to action and generous insights offered by the Black, Indigenous, and artists of color from our regional and national communities, especially the artists who have organized to create We See You White American Theatre and Black Theatre United, Pittsburgh Public Theater is proud to announce the next steps in our organization’s ongoing commitment to racial justice. 

In June 2020, we released a statement declaring solidarity with our Black colleagues, artists, audiences, and neighbors. In it, we said: “You matter to us. Your stories matter. Your lives matter. Justice matters.” These beliefs have not waned. In that statement, we promised to take a hard look at our own internal practices to identify and initiate steps to achieve greater racial equity and just representation throughout our organization. Since that time, we have launched a Racial Justice Task Force composed of Board members, artists of color, and community leaders to steer us in a year-long process to create meaningful improvements across our operations. The Chairperson of this Task Force now sits on the Executive Committee of our Board.  We have begun honest and rigorous conversations with our staff and have collaborated with our Board’s Executive Leadership to ensure these commitments are sincere and appropriately funded. 

We recognize this work will be ongoing and that we cannot do it in a vacuum. We will stumble, and we will get things wrong. We are dedicated to listening and learning from the communities of color in our Pittsburgh region, and to opening more channels for transparency so that we may continue to improve. We extend our earnest gratitude to the individuals and organizations who have already helped us shape this process and offered us a clearer understanding of what our role must be in addressing systemic racism in American theater and in our own community.

The Public’s first phase of Racial Justice Commitments are listed below. These steps have been reviewed, revised, and endorsed by the theater’s Executive Committee, the Racial Justice Task Force, the full Board, and the staff. Progress towards these goals will be available for review and comment on the theater’s website, to help us stay accountable and transparent, and to invite public review of our effectiveness and impact as we work to serve the Pittsburgh region as a true public theater.

Sincerely, 

maryasmall

Marya Sea Kaminski
Artistic Director, Pittsburgh Public Theater

lousmall

Lou Castelli
Managing Director, Pittsburgh Public Theater

courtney

Courtney CT Horrigan
Board Chair, Pittsburgh Public Theater

Statement of Solidarity


On June 1, 2020, Pittsburgh Public Theater issued the following statement:

At Pittsburgh Public Theater, we believe in the power of art to transform and connect us, and in our fundamental responsibility to serve our city and region as a true public theater for all people.

We are in a moment of reckoning, when we are all being called to face the persistent racial injustice and violence perpetrated against Black communities in our city and across the country. We stand with our Black colleagues, artists, audiences, and neighbors. We deepen our commitment to creating an organization and a world where you feel safe, seen, and loved. You matter to us. Your stories matter. Your lives matter. Justice matters.

Out of respect during this time of national crisis and grief, we will be postponing our annual gala, which was to take place later this month. We will also be pausing our PlayTime programming and postponing our reading of Bekah Brunstetter’s THE CAKE. We know many of you were looking forward to these events, as were we, but this is not a time for celebration, it is a time for thoughtful action.

We deeply believe in the work we do and in the way art and artists bring us together to realize a better world. Current events demand that we take some time to reimagine how our role in Pittsburgh’s cultural life can evolve in the months ahead. We feel a deep commitment to remain true to our mission and to our devoted community of artists and audiences, so in the coming weeks, we will be taking a hard look at our own internal practices and what we can do better – to create a place of sincere welcome, to practice equity and justice throughout our organization, and to support our Black artists and audiences.

Thank you for taking this moment with us. We hope you will join The Public in the fight against racism and in lifting up Black voices so we might all listen and stand in solidarity. We look forward to being in your company again and sharing ideas for how we can best serve you and our city in the future.

Truly yours,
Marya Sea Kaminski, Artistic Director
Lou Castelli, Managing Director

Phase 1: First phase of our Racial Justice Commitments

To increase accountability and deepen our learning about inequitable practices and systems, by June 30, 2021 the theater will:

  • Hold space for a series of conversations with BIPOC artists and stakeholders to learn where we can do better and to inform the next phase of our racial justice policies and commitments;
  • Hire a DEIA consultant to collaborate with the theater’s leadership team on facilitation and training, and conduct semi-annual racial justice training for all staff and board members, and prioritize micro-aggression and bystander intervention training for ushers and front-of-house staff upon returning to in-person programming;
  • Assess our vendor partners to encourage purchasing from local, BIPOC-owned vendors and allies;
  • Build a system of public accountability by tracking these commitments, as well as the evolution of our organizational learning and actions, on our website and social media.

To accomplish greater equity in our staff and board policies, by June 30, 2021 the theater will:

  • Revise our guidelines and expectations for members of our Board of Trustees to reframe ‘contributions’ as more than just transactional and/or financial; 
  • Prioritize recruitment of BIPOC leaders and artists to serve as Trustees to share in the governance of the theater and shape future policies and priorities; 
  • Revise the theater’s hiring practices to remove barriers to attracting and retaining BIPOC candidates—this includes: adding our racial justice commitments and policies to every job posting, listing the salary range for every position, and eliminating any unnecessary educational attainment requirements for positions; 
  • Begin building a pipeline within our organization to invest in historically under-represented arts talent, starting with a season-long fellowship for a developing leader to observe the theater’s operations across departments, paid at a living wage.

To promote meaningful change and equitable representation in Pittsburgh Public Theater’s artistic initiatives and programming, by June 30, 2021 the theater will:

  • Create a consistent practice of honoring the tribal sovereignty of the Indigenous people and nations who stewarded and traveled through this region as early as 12,000 BC and still do today;
  • Redesign our tech process to more fully value and promote a culture of holistic health for our artists and staff, including the elimination of 10-out-of-12 hour days; 
  • Catalyze the tactics in our strategic plan to prioritize more diverse perspectives in our artistic programming by expanding the theater’s artistic staff over the next five seasons, beginning with the establishment of a new Resident Director position this season;
  • Prioritize collaborations and partnerships with BIPOC-led organizations in order to share our staff and financial resources to elevate and amplify the voices of BIPOC artists and leaders in our community.

Strategic Plan: Overview of 5-Year Strategic Plan Goals

In December 2019, the Pittsburgh Public Theater Board of Trustees approved an organizational strategic plan to guide our artistic and business priorities over the next five years, including the following six primary objectives:

  • Produce artistically diverse theatrical experiences of the highest quality
  • Attract more people to come to the theater
  • Reflect the diversity and richness of the region in our audiences, in our staff and Board, and on our stage
  • Build a vibrant, robust network of partnerships and learning opportunities across the community
  • Resource the organization to thrive by investing in staff, our brand, donor relationships, and an endowment campaign
  • Develop a culture of experimentation and learning to achieve new successes

Racial Justice Task Force: Staff, Trustees, & Community Stakeholders

  • The Pittsburgh Public Theater Racial Justice Task Force is chaired by Trustee, Dot Davis
  • Pittsburgh Public Theater's Artistic Director, Marya Sea Kaminski, Managing Director, Lou Castelli, and Director of Institutional Support, Ryan Ferrebee will serve as members of the Task Force
  • Other members of the Task Force shall include the following Pittsburgh Public Theater Board members: Jerad Bachar, Karen Greb, George Heigel, Lynn Hyde, Krysia Kubiak, Mike Martorella, Miriam Shapira, Joe Smith, and Jason Suslak
  • The task force also includes the following artists and community leaders: Doris Carson-Williams, Justin Emeka, and Malic Maat

Submit a Suggestion and/or Report a Concern

If you have questions or suggestions regarding Pittsburgh Public Theater's Racial Justice Commitments and/or if you want to bring a concern to our attention click HERE.