In the wake of a series of events surrounding Children’s Theatre Company, the Playwrights’ Center has spent the past few weeks with many playwrights, our staff and our board members to articulate a public response – not only in relation to this particular situation, but also as a renewed commitment to how we as an organization continue living into our value of prioritizing individual artist care in the theater community.
With over 250 astounding theater companies, and countless brilliant theater artists, the Twin Cities theater community is filled with exceptional artistic talent and vision. The Playwrights’ Center, an artistservice organization, supports thousands of playwrights each year, in addition to partnering with over 150 universities and producing theaters, locally, nationally and internationally. We have had the great privilege of working within this community for the past 48 years.
But, currently, our community is at a crossroads.
The recent events related to Children’s Theater Company – and the pursuant media coverage – have continued to expose long-open wounds caused by this past abuse. Despite the passage of time, for many survivors, the legacy of abuse of course doesn’t disappear. As true colleagues, collaborators and citizens of this community, those wounds cannot and will not remain invisible to us at the Center.
This moment has given the Playwrights’ Center and many other Twin Cities’ theaters an opportunity to critically reflect on our own practices and policies for our relationships with artists, staff and our many partners. For, as brilliant as the work is in this community, we cannot afford to prioritize exceptional artistry over the health and well-being of our artists themselves. Where great art is made, great artists must be treated in equal measure with investment in their care. Where great art is made, we must equally value compassion and humility. Where great art is made, we must demonstrate transparency and artist-empowerment.
Here at the Playwrights’ Center, we will continue to work as an active resource and partner in this process of healing. We will remain diligent to centering survivors and their stories in this process. We will continue to examine and refine our own practices for protecting the very playwrights (and their collaborators) we exist to serve.
The Playwrights’ Center endeavors to be a safe space for all. Without a commitment to all, true inclusion cannot exist.
- We commit to working with survivors and Twin Cities theater leadership in the coming months to devise a clear and actionable plan for moving forward, with a goal of articulating how theaters strategize, commit and implement ideas for more comprehensive artist care and safety practices.
- We commit to actively participating in the upcoming public community conversations, taking the resulting critical learning and using it towards a building of best practices for prioritizing artist care in our community. We believe that euphemism and a lack of transparency often enable a dangerously fertile ground for injustice, and it is our expressed desire to work with the survivors, artists and theaters in the Twin Cities to shift this paradigm.
- Above all, we remain committed to our steadfast practice of engaging with artists, universities and theater partners who practice just, humane and non-abusive behavior.
As a community, we have the opportunity – right here, right now – to work towards a future where no person feels silenced, and no artist is made unsafe. In collaboration with our theater colleagues and artistic collaborators, we commit to building towards a more equitable, safe and humane community for generations of theater artists to come.