To Our Community:
Thanks for standing with The Chicago Theater Accountability Coalition as we built and evolved this summer. We formed from a pivotal moment that required a passionate, effective, quick response. That response grew into a sustained conversation about racism and inequity. Through your support, we've mobilized thousands of people committed to holding themselves, their community, and the people they care about more accountable when it comes to conversations about equality.
This is larger than Chicago. We’re still receiving messages from all over the country; thousands of people are talking about these issues in a new and meaningful way. Additionally, organizations like The American Theater Critics Association have committed to working towards inclusion. On their own accord, the ACTCA has reshaped their decades-long mission to better address diversity in the future. Meanwhile, the Chicago Inclusion Project is already getting young writers tickets to attend shows and amplify their voices. Incredible progress is being made and we’re excited to see the work continue.
Now, for us, accountability doesn’t mean “holding feet to the fire.” It means being there to remind our colleagues and collaborators that we see them, we’re here for them, and we’re making our way together. These conversations are tough and necessary, and for a lot of people it takes time. For the five co-founders of the coalition, our personal accountability includes working to get better at acknowledging our mistakes when they happen, and making sure they get fixed.
In the beginning, we believed the best course of action was to work with companies and compile a public list of those standing with us to celebrate and encourage inclusion. The idea soon became irrelevant when, weeks later, dozens of theaters put out their own public statements for everyone to see. Statements ranged in opinion from support to continuing dialogue to disagreement. However, we learned that creating a “roll-call” could cause a feeling of unnecessary and stressful pressure to push through the deadline of a very important conversation. "We apologize if that idea resulted in negative impact and perception; that part of the process could have been approached differently, and we own that mistake. We’re all part of this community and we’re thankful for the people who have kept with us, on all sides of the conversation, for the past two months. We’re learning a lot and are grateful."
To our colleagues having difficult and necessary conversations within their institutions: you have our deepest gratitude and respect. If you would like to start a dialogue, simply reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org. A new theater season is about to begin in Chicago. Over 200 theaters will produce hundreds of shows representing one of the best cities in the world. We’re very honored and grateful to be part of this community, and we will continue to stand with you.
Thank you for being brave. Thank you for speaking out. Thank you for wanting to be heard.
Ike Holter, Kevin Matthew Reyes, Tony Santiago, Sasha Smith & Sydney Charles
Co-founders of The Chicago Theater Accountability Coalition