Following a 2020 Anti-Racism Pledge and a 2021 Leadership Challenge, the Regional Theater has released an overview of the steps it is taking to bring about change.
As calls to address institutional racism in American theater began to burn again in early summer 2020, the Williamstown Theater Festival responded with an anti-racism pledge. In February 2021, an eight-page letter from festival staff and interns was sent to festival management, alleging an unsafe and toxic work environment, and was reported by the Los Angeles Times in September 2021.
In November 2021, Jenny Gersten replaced Mandy Greenfield as Artistic Director after she stepped down for an interim period that will last until the 2022 season.
Now, the Massachusetts Theater has released “A Progress Report on Equity, Diversion, Inclusion, Accessibility, Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression at the WTF,” outlining steps taken. and planned changes to create a fairer and safer working environment.
Some changes seen in the plan include:
- A promise to shorten the summer season, no longer put on seven shows, thus reducing the overall intensity of the season. The company will also give employees more time off and hourly caps.
- The hiring of an external human resources company and the creation of a year-round senior executive position to serve as the Festival’s people and culture guardian.
- Ongoing anti-racism training for existing, new and seasonal staff, including managers.
- Steps taken to create a more diverse, inclusive and anti-racist board, including seeking consulting firms to broaden access and identify BIPOC candidates and EDIA continuing education for current and future directors.
- Allocation of resources to support the development of black audiences in the Berkshire region.
- The suspension of the apprenticeship program and the internship program, which previously charged participants for tuition, room and board.
These are just a few examples of the actions in the progress report. To read the full plan, click here.