Equity, Diversity & Inclusion


We welcome our community's feedback on EDI matters and invite you to lend your voice  here .

  Accountability Update: June 2022

Land Acknowledgement

First, we acknowledge that the Julia Morgan Theater is located on Ohlone tribal ground, and we recognize the significance of honoring this history. Below is the first version of our Land Acknowledgement (process ongoing):

The Berkeley Playhouse recognizes that The Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley sits on the territory of xučyun (Huichin), the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo speaking Ohlone people, the successors of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and other familial descendants of the Verona Band.

This land has been loved and tended to by the Ohlone people for over 10,000 years. We humbly and gratefully acknowledge their stewardship of the land and all the ways in which we benefit from this land.

Berkeley Playhouse Anti-racist Statement

Berkeley Playhouse stands in solidarity with marginalized BIPOC communities, and we denounce the centuries of oppression, trauma, pain, and death caused by structural racism. We are committed to the serious examination of our organizational procedures and praxis, and we work to become a more actively anti-racist organization.

We use our platform and the privilege it affords us to showcase the talents, skills, and stories of diverse voices which continue to be underrepresented in theater arts.

We champion more equitable access to all theater productions and educational programming.

It is our responsibility to create art that actively engages with the diverse communities of the Bay Area that will impact people for years to come.

We encourage ourselves and our community to work towards broader education, support and action for racial justice.

Berkeley Playhouse acknowledges that multiple avenues are necessary to address change as we work to center equity, inclusion, diversity, and justice in our organization. To hold ourselves accountable and offer transparency, we commit to bi-annual updates highlighting current progress.

What does Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work currently look like at Berkeley Playhouse?

  • The leadership team reviews the BIPOC Equity Action Plan EDI Action Items in our leadership team strategy & oversight meeting every week: we track progress, discuss prospective changes, strategic goals and action items.
  • Kimberly Dooley, Artistic Director, and Director of Development and Community Outreach, Dana Swint, have an EDI action meeting every other week to discuss strategic planning and implementation of current action items. 
  • Kimberly and Dana attend a monthly Accountability Work Group meeting made up of Bay Area theater professionals committed to on-going Anti-racist work in theater. Kimberly also attends a small working group involved in deeper community work around EDI goals, staying accountable to personal and organizational growth, and processing any issues that may come up.
  • We have implemented Staff-led EDI presentations/discussions 1x per month topic examples include: Accessibility, Body Diversity in Musical Theater, and Latino/Hispanic/Chicano Identity Overview 
  • Staff & Board participate in on-going EDI trainings and staff facilitate a teach-back to full staff. 
  • We maintain an internal staff EDI resource folder that includes notes from trainings, and meetings, as well as resource documents 
  • Twice yearly EDI organizational accountability updates are created, reviewed by early readers on the EDI committee, Board, and staff, then published on our website, and distributed by email to our full subscriber list. 
  • EDI Advisory Committee was established in 2020 and is made up of staff, Board, teaching artists, and core/resident Mainstage artists. Currently meets once a month to act as an advisory group for work on company documents, policies, and procedures.
Updates December 2021 to June 2022:

Organizational Policies and Procedures:
  • Cultural Competency: we are committed to expanding on our practice of seeking cultural competency advising to best inform our casting and production practices. We will share more details about our process and procedures around this topic in our next EDI update December 2022. 
  • Community Surveys: We are collecting community demographic information through a  survey given to all staff, board members, and families in our Education programs to track our progress in diversity and inclusion, and in response allocate resources to our outreach efforts where necessary. 
  • Community Documents:
Education Policies and Procedures:
  • Our Financial Aid program was reconstructed, and framed within an equity driven process. We’ve instituted a sliding scale distribution based on income eligibility, and developed clear language around our mission and policies. 
  • We’ve seen a 25% increase in the number of students receiving financial aid, compared to pre-COVID-19 2018-19 program year, and we aim to increase the number of students served in 2022-23.
  • We created a financial aid donation program called the Classes and Camps Champion (CCC) Fund, that allows program participants to directly donate to our financial aid funds while registering for programs.
  • We continue to hold annual fundraising events in support of financial aid, scholarships, and community outreach.
  • We are rebooting our Teacher Recommendations Program (TRECs), which provides nearly full scholarships for our education programming, emphasizing access for BIPOC students from low socio-economic backgrounds at public schools in BUSD and OUSD. 
Community:
  • Our external EDI survey is more accessible to our community, featured at the top of the Berkeley Playhouse EDI page .
  • A Police Alternatives resource document is available for Front of House staff, to provide other means of dealing with escalated conflict, mental health crisis, and other needs, to create greater safety for marginalized individuals.
  • Our Land Acknowledgement statement (a living document in progress) is posted in the theater lobby and in all studios.
  • Berkeley Playhouse continues to develop our relationship with Indigenous people in the Bay Area doing important community work, including Sogorea’ Te Land Trust. We are committed to paying our annual Shuumi Land Tax, and developing meaningful ways of sharing our space and resources to support indigenous women leaders' work of rematriation, cultural revitalization, land restoration and healing. We have begun the process of seeking consultation on our Land Acknowledgement. (on-going)
  • We’ve developed a living document of Community Resources for staff, artists, and creative team members, which provides local resources to support wellbeing including: COVID-19 resources, health, dental and mental health services, housing resources, legal services, etc.
Outreach:
  • Berkeley Playhouse Audience Study: data collection and research to better understand our patron demographics and areas that need greater representation (in-progress)
  • We are in the process of developing partnerships with community organizations to reach underrepresented youth, including a local LGBTQIA+ Center, connecting youth participants to Berkeley Playhouse through Teen Nights, and sharing their resources to our YouthStage teens (in progress) We are also collaborating on performance access with an organization that serves youth impacted by the foster care system. We look forward to sharing more the development of these partnerships. 
2022 EDI Trainings: 
  • Nonviolent CommunicationTraining, with Unconscious Bias/Anti-racist Lens (In progress, Staff, Board, Teaching Artists) Summer/Fall
  • TEL-BAY training: Building Anti-Racist Teaching Practices: a Workshop for Theater Educators (Teaching Artists & Director of Community Outreach) - June 
  • Finding the Keys: Antiracist Approaches to Radical Recruitment in the Arts (Hiring teams–complete; Board members–pending) April 
  • Cultural Competency: Casting and Dramaturgy with Leigh Rondon-Davis, The Casting Collective (EDI Advisory Committee Members) April
  • Theater Bay Area Conference 2022, Brick by Brick: Concrete Actions for Change (Leadership & Casting Director) April 
    • Designing a Human-Focused Workplace: Ethical Workplace Strategies
    • Playwrights on the Horizons: Staging
    • Marginalized Bay Area Playwrights
    • Telling Our Stories: Successful Grant Writing for an Intersectional World
    • Disability Justice: Towards an Anti-Ableist Theatre
    • Equitable Pandemic Recovery for the TheatreCommunity
    • Navigating the Biz: Worker’s Rights for Actors 
    • The Playwrights Circle
    • Arts Administrators Open Space
    • Casting as Activism
  • De-escalation Training with Jordan Battle, Making Good Trouble (EDI Advisory Committee Members) March 
  • Actor's Equity Association, and it's called Ancestral Truths: Native Americans in the Theater Workplace (Casting Director) 
  • Actor's Equity Association: Best Practices in Inclusive Theater Workspaces (Casting Director) March
    • Disability
    • Gender
  • De-escalation Training with Jordan Battle, Making Good Trouble (EDI Advisory Committee Members) March    

Accountability Update: December 2021

First, we acknowledge that the Julia Morgan Theater is located on Ohlone tribal ground, and we recognize the significance of honoring this history. Below is the first version of our Land Acknowledgement (process ongoing):

The Berkeley Playhouse recognizes that The Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley sits on the territory of xučyun (Huichin), the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo speaking Ohlone people, the successors of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and other familial descendants of the Verona Band.

This land has been loved and tended to by the Ohlone people for over 10,000 years. We humbly and gratefully acknowledge their stewardship of the land and all the ways in which we benefit from this land.

Our Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging work is essential, and it is broad, layered and involves many stakeholders in Berkeley Playhouse, from our board and staff, to members of our creative team, teaching artists, and actors, to our patrons. Many of these folks are committed members of our EDI Committee.

This committee, formed in August 2020, was designed to advise on design inquiries, collect data, develop areas for further research, conduct empathy interviews to gain more insight and information, provide review and feedback into policies/operations being developed to address issues raised by the committee and generate ideas for growth. The EDI committee members are critical voices in advancing our anti-racist work, and we thank them for showing up as changemakers this past year and half, for guiding our progress and implementation of the following EDI updates. We give special acknowledgement to Jordan Battle, a core Berkeley Playhouse staff member of many years, who carries key institutional history and critical knowledge of Berkeley Playhouse practices. Jordan is an advisor, connected to the larger Bay Area theater community and we deeply thank her for her leadership in this work, for going above and beyond in dedication to our actualized change. And lastly, we thank you, our Berkeley Playhouse community, for being witness to our on-going learning and growth.

Berkeley Playhouse Board and Staff

  • We have welcomed a new board member, Danine Manette, and continue to hold a commitment to increasing representation from marginalized groups in spaces of power and leadership within the Berkeley Playhouse organization.
  • Mentorship of next generation of leaders: We have added an Assistant Director position to mentor new directors and we’ve welcomed two new leadership team members, Melissa Rivera and Dana Swint, to our full-time staff.
Organizational Policies
  • Berkeley Playhouse commits to publishing a bi-annual EDI Accountability Update in December and June.
  • BIPOC Equity Demands: Our leadership team commits a portion of our weekly Strategy and Oversight meeting to reviewing the list in order and creating a plan of action for each item.
  • Artists’ Bill of Rights: We have developed an Artists’ Bill of Rights that we address at the first rehearsal of each show. This is a living document, and we welcome suggested additions or revisions.
  • Core Values and Community Agreements: These living documents have been updated with a deeper equity lens.
  • Communication: We have created an internal policy document that defines pathways for communication and addressing issues around Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. We have also created a public feedback form to allow community members to share anonymous feedback or request a follow-up if not submitting feedback anonymously.
  • Casting: We have created new practices in our casting procedures which include: adding a questions segment for actors so that casting process is a 2-way interview, and actors have time and space to ask questions, clearly establishing who is present in the casting room, making our Core Values accessible, increasing access by offering the option to take part in remote  auditions, and re-working casting notice language to be more inclusive.
  • We have implemented several new policies, procedures, and strategies, including:
    • Dedicating a portion of weekly staff meeting for EDI training/discussion
    • Dedicating a portion of weekly Strategy and Oversight meeting for EDI accountability work
    • Establishing relationships with several core external EDI/HR partners
    • Eliminating 10 out of 12 technical rehearsals
Community
  • Sogorea Te’ Land Trust Shuumi Land Tax: We are committed to honoring the land that we are on. We have made a payment and we are in the process of building payment into our annual budget. We commit to supporting indigenous women leaders' work of rematriation, cultural revitalization, land restoration and healing.
Education Policies
  • We have removed barriers to applying for and receiving financial aid and continue to research strategies to be able to offer additional aid to families for whom our programs would be a financial burden.
  • We are being more mindful about how we structure our teaching artist teams to include representation whenever possible.
  • Scripts are vetted early in the selection processes to identify disparaging language, racially coded characters, and problematic subject matter.
  • Scripts are written and edited to better align with our organizational values, e.g., being more fluid with pronouns whenever possible.
  • Students' input about certain types of roles is taken into consideration when casting.
  • We have implemented opening and closing circles to give students the opportunity to report access needs and build a sense of community within their group.
  • We have created Core Values and Community Agreements that we review with students at the start of each program and ask for their input. They are printed and posted in all our class spaces.
EDI Committee and EDI Training
  • Berkeley Playhouse EDI Committee: This advisory committee is composed of teaching artists, staff, board members, and actors and meets on a monthly basis. Our leadership team (Executive Artistic Director, Managing Director, Producing Director of Mainstage and Education, and Director of Development and Outreach) reviews and responds to action items between meetings, and shares updates on progress.
  • EDI Training: We are creating a dedicated budget line to support EDI training for Full Time Staff, Front of House staff, Board Members, and Teaching Artists. Various staff and teaching artists have attended/will attend the following trainings:
    • Mitigating Unconscious Bias Training (Hollaback)
    • Bystander Intervention (Hollaback)
    • Conflict De-escalation (Hollaback)
    • Bystander Intervention to Stop Police Sponsored Violence and Anti-Black Racist Harassment training (Hollaback)
    • How to Respond to Anti-Asian Harassment (Hollaback)
    • Police and Policing in Theater Spaces (Bay Area Accountability Workgroup) Latinx Community and Workspace Support (Actors Equity)
    • EDI training through Theater Bay Area (TBA) with facilitation provided by Beatrice Thomas, Principal, Authentic Arts & Media Members (June 2021)
      • Day 1: Got Bias: Foundations of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion customized for Bay Area theatres.
      • Day 2: Growing EDI into our Theatre Organizations
    • Symposium on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (AEA)
    • EDI through the lens of non-profit Board Members (Z Space)
    • Cultural Coordinators: the New Essential Role in Theater (AEA)
    • Disability Justice and Advocacy in Theater (AEA)
    • Civic Conversation: Z Space and Bay Area Casting (Z Space)
    • Ancestral Truths: Native Americans in the Theater Workplace (AEA)
    • Moving Beyond Land Acknowledgements & Token Representations with Dr. Adrienne Keene (SpeakOut)

Accountability Update: May 2021

Welcome! Berkeley Playhouse acknowledges that multiple avenues are necessary to address change as we work to center equity, inclusion, diversity, and justice in our organization. To hold ourselves accountable and offer transparency, we commit to periodic updates highlighting current progress.

Current organizational efforts are as follows:

  • Bay Area Accountability Workgroup - Three Berkeley Playhouse staff members participate in both a Learning Space and Action Space group alongside fellow theater industry colleagues to facilitate learning, action, and accountability opportunities.
  • Berkeley Playhouse EDI Committee - The large group committee is composed of teaching artists, staff, board members, and actors. Arjuna Sayyed from Possibility of Play facilitates and guides our work. This month we continue exploring the liberatory design mindset and put it into practice by conducting empathy interviews. Further, we have reviewed and noted thematic findings from our recent EDI survey.
  • BIPOC Equity Demands - We are reviewing the Living Document testimonials on the EDI committee and identifying patterns that will help shape and guide our priorities  moving forward. Staff is developing an action plan to address the demands developed by the Bay Area BIPOC Equity Demands and the WeSeeYou WAT demands. We will be working with staff, board, and the EDI committee to continue to develop the plan.
  • Berkeley Playhouse Organizational Policies - We are developing several new policies, procedures, and strategies:
    • The first day of rehearsal and the first portion of the first production mtg will be a designated time for community agreements, EDI policies, equity and justice pathways, communication expectations and core values.
    • We begin our casting process with a thoughtful discussion with the Director, Musical Director, Choreographer, Casting Director, Artistic Director, and Producing Director to consider casting values and identify if a specialized consultant, choreographer, or dramaturg is needed.
    • Eliminating the 10 out of 12 tech weekend. We will be moving to an 8 out of 10 for the Sat/Sun before opening.
    • Clear core value documents have been created for education and mainstage departments, discussion around them are included in meeting agendas.
    • We have welcomed a full time staff member and three board members increasing representation from marginalized groups in spaces of power and leadership within the Berkeley Playhouse organization.
  • Trainings Update:
    • San Francisco Harm Reduction Training Institute webinars planned for June 2021 for staff and board members on De-escalation and Conflict Management  Training and Cultural Coordinating: The New Essential Role in Theatre.
    • EDI training through Theater Bay Area (TBA) planned for June 2021 for staff and board members, with facilitation provided by Beatrice Thomas, Principal,  Authentic Arts & Media Members:
      • Day 1: Got Bias: Foundations of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion customized for Bay Area theatres. The first session will focus on personal bias and systemic racism, especially as it manifests within theatre institutions and practice. The session will address privilege and social location; explore the many ways bias plays out in our lives and the world; and discuss how to mitigate microaggressions and build cultural allyship.
      • Day 2: Growing EDI into our Theatre Organizations. The second session will build on the first and employ public education and emergent strategy  processes to help participants identify issues present in their institutions and design strategies to confront them. A concluding component will outline the key tactics used to build an organizational EDI plan.
Lastly, we acknowledge that the Julia Morgan Theater is located on Ohlone tribal ground, and we recognize the significance of honoring this history. Below is the first version of our Land Acknowledgement (process ongoing):

The Berkeley Playhouse recognizes that The Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley sits on the territory of xučyun (Huichin), the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo speaking Ohlone people, the successors of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and other familial descendants of the Verona Band.

This land has been loved and tended to by the Ohlone people for over 10,000 years. We humbly and gratefully acknowledge their stewardship of the land and all the ways in which we benefit from this land.

Our Statement: June 2020

Berkeley Playhouse stands in solidarity with the Black, BIPOC and other marginalized communities, and we denounce the centuries of oppression, trauma, pain, and death caused by structural racism. We are committed to the serious examination of our organizational procedures and praxis, and will work to become a more actively anti-racist organization.

We use our platform and the privilege it affords us to showcase the talents, skills, and stories of diverse voices which continue to be underrepresented in theater arts.

We champion more equitable access to all theater productions and educational programming.

It is our responsibility to create art that actively engages with the diverse communities of the Bay Area that will impact people for years to come.

We encourage ourselves and our community to work towards broader education, support and action for racial justice.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Berkeley Playhouse

At Berkeley Playhouse, a commitment to community, diversity, inclusion, and empowerment is at the heart of our work. Berkeley Playhouse is committed to strengthening ongoing efforts to ensure that our organization reflects a strong commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. To that aim:

  • We have developed an EDI committee, made up of Staff Members, Board Members, Teaching Artists, and Mainstage Theater Artists dedicated to the serious examination of our organizational procedures and praxis. Further, the committee’s make-up expresses our diversity in terms of race, gender, age and LGTBQIA+ representation. Current top goals include:
    • Develop a company culture document that examines what the organization has done to unintentionally promote white supremacy. Allow the findings to inform specific actions Berkeley Playhouse will implement to help ensure an actively anti-racist and inclusive culture.
    • Review the “We See You, White American Theater” and the “Living Document of BIPOC Experiences in Bay Area Theater Companies” (both the anonymous testimonials and the BOPOC Equity Action Plan) and make a short and long term Implementation Plan.
    • Create a framework to ensure an anti-racist approach to performance selection, production, direction, and management.
    • Revisit Berkeley Playhouse’s mission and establish core diversity & inclusion values related to race, gender, age and sexual orientation throughout the entire organization.
    • Prioritize EDI work on a staff level by ensuring adequate staff time is dedicated weekly to planning, training, community events and meetings regarding EDI work, HR Policy and Procedure strengthening, and organizational communications.
    • We are committed to ongoing training. This year staff and board members have attended workshops and talks around racial justice in theater, as well as accountability work. Last year our board and staff attended a training by Claudia Alick from Calling Up on Microaggressions.
    • We have an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page on our website dedicated to transparency & accountability as we grow, strengthen and develop our EDI practices.
    • Build greater diversity on BPH board, staff, teaching artists, artists, students and audiences.