Commitment to Action

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

We look forward to beginning a New Year and, along with it, to sharing the work we have done towards ensuring a just and equitable culture at Goodman Theatre.

Our Action Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) has been a six-month collaborative effort involving interaction among individuals at every level of the organization—artists, staff, leadership and boards. Key to our process has been the Goodman Staff Committee, a three-year-old body of representatives of all departments whose collective ideas, resources and dedication have inspired a number of actions. A six-person writing team of Goodman staff members has drafted these actions into our plan—including Marissa Ford (Associate Managing Director); Ken-Matt Martin (Associate Producer); Amber Porter (Production Coordinator); Denise Schneider (Director of Communications); Amy Szerlong (Manager of Institutional Giving); and Willa J. Taylor (Walter Director of Education and Engagement).

Our timetable towards public release of this plan includes the following milestones:

Week of December 28 — Final draft of IDEAA Action Plan is completed
Week of January 4 — Review by IDEAA Board Committee
Week of January 11 — Review by all Goodman Theatre internal stakeholders (Artistic Collective, Staff, full Board of Trustees)
Week of January 25 — IDEAA Action Plan is finalized and publicity released

We demonstrate leadership through our actions, and our important work continues. We look forward to sharing our finalized plan with you soon.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

In the time that has elapsed since our initial post (see below), Goodman Theatre's Board, Staff and Artists have spent the past two months engaging in a collaborative process that will ultimately result in an Action Plan that ensures a culture of inclusion and opportunity—on stage and off—for all. Our goal, despite the challenges of the current environment caused by COVID-19, is to complete and share this Action Plan by the end of the calendar year.

At the same time, we wish to express our appreciation for the time and care that We See You, White American Theater—a collective of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) theater makers, many of whom are our past, present and future creative collaborators—has taken to share a vision of a more equitable, diverse, anti-racist industry. Their work, which has been shared with our key stakeholders, has and will continue to inform our efforts. We will update this page with our progress.

As we progress, we evolve. Thank you for holding us accountable as we strive to make the Goodman, and the American Theater, the best it can be.



Wednesday, July 1, 2020

To Our Community:

It is long past time for us at Goodman Theatre—as individuals and as a major Chicago not-for-profit cultural organization—to reckon with systemic racism, the deep divisions that exist within our society and the entrenched inequalities of our legal system.

Toward ending the brutality, oppression and violence that Black people have suffered since our country’s founding, it’s imperative that we assess our own role in the lack of progress to equity and justice. How can we demonstrate that Black Lives Matter and build on our longtime commitment to Black voices? In what ways can we uplift and center Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized and underrepresented voices—on stage and off? How do we signal to all who enter our theater that hate has no home here? As a predominantly white organization, what steps must we take to dismantle the systems that have kept us so?

We are in the process of addressing these questions and more in creating an Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism action plan, essential to enabling Goodman Theatre to live its values for the foreseeable future. As a first step, we have begun an audit of our internal culture—on stage, behind the scenes, on our boards and among our staff—to ascertain inequities in processes and policies and root out systemic racism, from blatant acts of injustice to less visible microaggressions and manifestations of implicit bias. Despite the challenges of the current environment caused by COVID-19, our goal is to have this plan completed by the end of 2020.

Through this process, we will:

  • Review our Artistic priorities. Seek honest assessments from our Artistic Collective members and key creative collaborators of color regarding their Goodman working experiences and recommendations for improvement.
  • Deepen our internal commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism. We will strengthen our infrastructure by establishing a standing committee of the Board focused on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Human Resources and oversight of this action plan. Additionally, we will create a corresponding senior level director position dedicated to human resources, diversity and inclusion. We will provide continuous and ongoing EDI training, including anti-racism, to ensure a safe and respectful work environment for all. Throughout this process, there will be Black, Indigenous, People of Color voices at the table and they will be centered in a way that does not ask them to educate their white colleagues.
  • Assess procurement practices. We will work to ensure that our procurement policies support Black, Indigenous, People of Color-led businesses; businesses located in under-resourced communities; and small businesses hit hard by the current economic crisis.
  • Commit to emerging voices of color. Determine short- and long-term opportunities to center a new generation of theater makers (especially Black playwrights) who chronicle the spectrum of their experience and create works of art that facilitate understanding and empathy between people of very different backgrounds and experiences toward healing and restoration.
  • Expand workforce development programs for emerging leaders of color. Increased Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized/underrepresented voices across our organization is vital to enacting our new systems toward a better future of all. 
  • Eliminate barriers to arts participation. We will deepen existing relationships with community leaders, arts organizations and kindle authentic new connections with Black, Indigenous and People of Color-led organizations to expand the breadth of our work. At the same time, we recognize that for many who work on our stages and behind the scenes (and for Indigenous populations, in particular), the disruption of family life is a barrier to access. We will examine our work schedules and practices to assess how we can better accommodate all who wish to participate in our art form. 
  • Foster connection and conversation with our audiences. Though the circumstances of COVID-19 prevent us from opening our Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement, we are working to facilitate virtual programming and deliver resources to Learn, Support and Show Up.

Our work will be ongoing and will evolve. We will actively share updates here and encourage dialogue with our community throughout the process. 

We acknowledge we must do more to become the equitable, diverse, inclusive, anti-racist organization we aspire to be. In confronting our own prejudices, we will continue to learn through this process. We will make mistakes; but we will be active, listen and make corrections. 

The Boards, Artists and Staff of Goodman Theatre stand in solidarity against racism and hate. We intend to contribute to the building of a more just and equitable American society—and ask that you will hold us accountable to fostering a culture that promotes inclusion and opportunity for all.