Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Cardinal Stage is committed to fostering a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in its artistic productions and management. Our goal is to become more fully inclusive, multi-cultural, anti-oppressive, and anti-racist.
Throughout 2020 our country was once again faced with its legacy of white supremacy and anti-Black violence. The murder of George Floyd sent shockwaves through our nation. Given the momentous cultural introspection and transformation of our time, Cardinal Stage has begun to examine its organizational culture through a more holistic lens. The process is showing we have work to do to retool and become a more relevant, accessible, and exemplary theater company. This includes a close look at where we are now and where we want to be.
What we know is that Cardinal Stage values diverse points of view and lived experiences; however, historically the organization has been predominantly white, has operated in a predominantly white community, and has produced predominantly white shows. We recognize that Cardinal Stage has the responsibility to create an artistic culture which reflects values of anti-racism and anti-bias. We also know that transformation from a white orientation to authentic diversity, equity, and inclusion demands scrutiny of not just one piece but of the entire company culture, our output, and all involved personnel – from board to staff, artists to sponsors.
Our Current DEI Initiatives
- Beginning in 2020, a standing DEI committee made up of staff, board, and volunteers from the community meets monthly and maintains focus on uncovering and addressing discriminatory organizational constructs in governance, finance, and artistic operations. The committee is leading Cardinal’s efforts to:
- Examine and edit company bylaws, policies, hiring practices, and contracts to eliminate unintended discrimination and maximize diversity and inclusivity.
- Create an Artistic Advisory Committee to work with the Artistic Director on issues of programming, casting, creative team recruitment and cultural competency relating to productions.
- Discuss how to more meaningfully share Cardinal’s anti-racist statement and harassment policies with new staff, board members, artists, interns, and independent contractors to proactively emphasize and ensure understanding of Cardinal’s value and expectations for non-discriminatory behavior in the workplace.
- The Cardinal DEI Fund, created in 2019, provides support for a number of initiatives, including:
- Commissioning a new play by Black playwright Bren Thomas (2020-22)
- Anti-racism training for board, staff, and committee members (February 2021)
- Additional staff development training on DEI topics (ongoing)
- Hiring of BIPOC actors and creative team members (ongoing)
- Prior to the pandemic, Cardinal Stage made a commitment to program at least one play per year written by a Black playwright for Black actors. The Artistic Director assembled a group of local African-Americans to read a group of potential plays and, after group discussion, selected The Mountaintop by American playwright Katori Hall. This commitment will be implemented when live, in-person productions resume post-pandemic.