Statement on Equity, Access, and Inclusion
Equity, access, and inclusion are core values of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Theatre has a remarkable power to bring people together and to allow us to examine our shared humanity. With our specific commitment to Shakespeare and other plays of classic stature, we constantly tackle the ongoing question of how these works resonate in our specific contemporary communities. The reach and influence of Shakespeare’s works throughout our culture allows his plays to serve as a kind of social glue, binding us together with common language, characters, and stories. Therefore, we believe that these works must be wholly available and made more accessible to all people.
We acknowledge, however, that the classical theatre canon has been misused as a tool of systemic racism and gender bias, alienating some people from these works. CSC recognizes that we must do more to mitigate these harms and to aggressively pursue greater equity on our stages and in our offices.
Differences in identity including age, background, class, gender, religion, nationality, disability, race, sexual orientation, and thinking style bring vibrancy to our organization and to our content and such differences help us better connect with the stories that reflect our world. Our EAI values are intended to be part of all ongoing discussions, all committees, all rehearsals, all programming, and all performances.
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company aims to be an organization that works continually toward equity and inclusion in an intentional, respectful, and welcoming way.
Casting and Artistic Positions – CSC will continue to commit to color-conscious casting across the season and in each particular production – on our mainstage, for our student matinees, and in our education programming. We will do more to bring in BIPOC directors and designers to lead the creative process and we will determinedly seek out younger BIPOC artists to mentor. We will commit to fair rehearsal hours and a strict enforcement of our Code of Conduct to reassure artists that CSC is a safe and equitable space where they will want to work.
Hiring, Staff, and Board – In order to reflect the communities in which we live, we will commit to increase BIPOC administrative staff, teaching artists, and trustees. We will provide more transparent information in job postings, including salary levels, and eliminate requirements that may discourage qualified BIPOC candidates. Our staff and board will commit to continuing actions toward anti-racist practices and adhering strictly to our Code of Conduct.
Audience: Without diverse audiences, we cannot be truly serving our majority-Black city. Our student matinee program is already heavily invested in Baltimore City Public schools whose students regularly attend at no cost to the schools or students. We will investigate new ways of tiered ticket pricing and free tickets and work harder in marketing outreach to Baltimore’s city neighborhoods and community organizations as we aim to increase Black representation in our audiences.
Content and Programming – We will continue to research and recommend plays and stories that are from underrepresented voices in gender, culture, nationality, and race. Our goal is for these stories to be included in our mainstage season. We will commit to maintaining and developing these perspectives in our programming.
Community – We will support and maintain our community ensemble programs and continue to devise further programming that invests in the Greater Baltimore Community and Maryland. We have created a Black Classical Acting Ensemble, tasked with both mentoring and training local Black actors at no cost to them as well as creating a vigorous and thoughtful Afrocentric model of actor training for classical plays – something that has not been deeply explored in the US. Additionally, we have established Olive Branch and Laurel Crown, an ensemble designed for military veterans to find health and wellness through Shakespeare and theatre.
Partnerships – Our goal is to create wider and more substantive community partnerships and listen carefully as we develop new programming to better serve the Black and Latine communities in Baltimore and Maryland. Through review of vendors and commitments, we are working to increase the amount of business we do with BIPOC owned/led companies and contractors.
Accountability – We will create specific metrics to better measure EAI initiatives and practices.