Dancing Sky Theatre- Phase I – Diversity and Inclusion Plan January 12, 2020

 

 

Onboarding the Board

Brief description: Following Jayne and Dipboye (2009), Dancing Sky Theatre’s inaugural diversity plan Onboarding the Board will begin with building senior management commitment and accountability, followed by conducting a thorough needs assessment of our artists we collaborate with,  existing patrons and demographic makeup of the surrounding rural communities, concluding with the recrafting of the theatre’s vision and mission statements. The first phase is as follows:

I: The Importance of Diversity and Leadership

 

Presenting to the board an outline of what issues of diversity and inclusion Dancing Sky Theatre is facing, the context in which these issues exist, and how these issues are relevant to the organization. This training includes exploration of white privilege and fragility, and unconscious bias.

 

Section 2: Needs Assessment

  • Researching demographics of our patrons and the rural communities that we serve.

  • Performing a needs assessment of the access to and inclusion of diverse Saskatchewan artists.

 

Section 3: Diversifying the Board

 

Inviting members of the BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of colour), LGBTQ2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer questioning and 2-spirit) to join the board and centring diversity and inclusion in the very fabric of everything we do.

 

Section 4: Re-crafting the Vision and Mission Statements

 

Bringing together the new ideas introduced in the D&I training with the needs assessments and beginning the discussion around re-crafting DST vision and mission statements to reflect our commitment.

 

Rationale: For 27 years, Dancing Sky Theatre’s purpose has centred around creating and supporting access to live theatre for underserved rural audiences within 100 kilometres of our location. The theatre’s primary diversity outreach has been and is its ruralness. As an arts organization, Dancing Sky Theatre believes that art should reflect and speak to the people that surrounded us, essentially our community, therefore a primary part of our mandate has evolved into finding and creating theatrical events that reflect and involve the people and culture of rural Saskatchewan. This is an interesting challenge because the vast majority of culture today is urban.

Although DST is still committed to reflecting rural life, we need to relook at what this reflection means now.  Our senior management: our board and our staff, need to explore the layers of diversity and intersectionality found within the communities surrounding us. Before the board can do that, its members must explore where they fall in the D&I spectrum.  This exploration will take the form of personalized training.  As mentioned in Doyle (2008), the first step will be to articulate the definition of diversity that will inform the re-crafting of the vision and mission statements. These will then be used to engage tangible changes in how DST builds bridges between the theatre and its community.

"Be conscious of your own lenses, and advocate that all parties reflect upon their own perceptions…Deliberately choose language that reinforces participants’ understanding of culture as a lens (“try on each other’s glasses”) Lebaron ( 2000, pp. 4,8).

Outcomes: With this first step in discussion and training, there are two ultimate goals. The Board’s growing awareness of the diversity and intersectionality found within our audiences and artists, as well as the re-crafting of our vision and mission statements that better reflect the rural communities surrounding us and their inherent diversity.

Benefits: First and foremost, this work will help the board discover their own unconscious biases and give them a broader understanding who they are serving and how to serve them better.    Secondly, this work will crystallize and focus the stories we share with our communities; stories where they see themselves and their concerns and hopes reflected back. Thirdly, the aptness of the stories will attract and engage larger audiences, which will in turn, ensure the fiscal health of the organization.  This will then ensure its ability to continue its work, and there by help to fulfill the fiscal responsibility that is a core tenet of board work. Fourthly, this work will act as a solid ground level on which to continue to build the equity, inclusion and diversity work that will come.

Stakeholders: 

  • Overall stakeholders: our volunteer board, staff, the Artistic Director, artists, the rural communities surrounding us, existing and potential audiences, our funders, and our donors and sponsors.

  • Stakeholders for Phase 1: the volunteer board, staff, Artistic Director.

 

Measurement:  In Gallagher-Louisy (2013), it is “… suggested that organizations should introduce the concept of measurement first, allowing people to get used to looking at the data … before they are held accountable for it” (p. 19).  Our journey is so new that accountability will mostly be at a personal level. Yet, we will be able to track the difference in our audience engagement and take the pulse of how far we have come by the discussions had around the re-crafting of the vision and mission statements and the kind of language the stakeholders would like to include.

The following phases are to come:

Phase 2 – Access and Representation

Phase 3 – Artistic Practice

Phase 4 – Artistic Content

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