Updated October 2022
In June of 2020, as the country experienced a profound moment of reckoning, we pledged to listen, to learn, and to support; we, our staff, and our board continue to do this separately and together. We are exploring the deep and painful history of violence and injustice against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in America and in Ireland, and we see how institutionalized racism has permeated our own practices.
We vowed to change.
We have acknowledged that we presented the Irish identity as “white,” a whiteness that is reflected both off and on our stages. But in fact, to be Irish is to be part of a vast and varied community – from the dynamic global diaspora of multi-racial people with Irish heritage, to the growing population of non-white citizens of Ireland. Now, we pledge to reflect the complexities of that shared heritage and history, and to tell the stories of Irish and Irish- American people of all races, genders, abilities, and orientations.
As a theatre dedicated to a once-marginalized community, we work to balance fulfilling our cultural mission with continuing to serve and broaden access for other underrepresented communities and immigrant populations. Instead of taking a pass on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access efforts because Irishness has long been equated with “whiteness,” Irish Rep has embraced the opportunity to broaden the understanding of what it means to be Irish. This has naturally led us to reexamine our mission and to set clear intentions as we pursue it.
As an Irish institution, we acknowledge the particular responsibility that we hold in the telling of anti-racist stories, both through the many intersections of Irish- and African-American history – tragic and joyful – and the history of Irish theatre itself. Irish theatre was developed as a tool of revolution – an artistic call to arms from the voices of the oppressed. We will commit ourselves not just to the stories of our past, but to the intent behind them of gaining equity, understanding, and power for all.
We recognize that we are late in addressing these issues and are now purposefully working, and we will continue to work for change and equity on our stages and behind our scenes.
Equity and Inclusion as it relates to our mission
Through our mission, we have established ourselves as an authority on Irish and Irish-American identity, but we have not reflected the multi-racial identity of today’s Ireland, as well as the complex and varied identity of Irish-Americans of all races, genders, abilities, and orientations. With this understanding, we recommit to our mission and pledge to stand by it as we seek stories that expand and challenge our previously narrow definition of what it means to be Irish.
Irish Repertory Theatre pledges to extend our commitment to expanding the Irish identity on our stages and to diversifying our hiring practices in administrative, production, and creative employment decisions. In that regard, we plan to avail ourselves of the resources that outside professionals have created (books, seminars, job description reviews, etc.) to ensure we implement appropriate practices as new positions become available.
We will work to avoid unconscious bias in our hiring practices, and we will evaluate our culture internally and externally in an attempt to root out systemic racism and ensure a workplace environment that is warm, safe, and welcoming for all.
We will continue to pursue equity, diversity and inclusion in our casting, staffing and recruitment of board members.
Action Points (Updated October 2022)*
- We have established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group of both staff and board members that meets regularly.
- The group is currently focused on anti-racist and DEI practices and policies. Since 2020, the group has assembled five curriculum “packets,” pulling together resources from authorities in the anti-racist and DEI spaces as well as in the theatre industry. The group continues to identify opportunities for increased anti-racist learning and best practice in all aspects of business.
- This committee will be a permanent addition to the Irish Rep structure.
- Committee updates are presented at every Irish Rep board meeting. All full- and part-time staff are required to participate in formal anti-racist and anti-bias training. Board members are also strongly encouraged to participate.
- Beginning in 2022, we will host regular virtual meetings on special topics related to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility with outside speakers. These discussions will be open to the Irish Rep board, staff, and artists.
- We will conduct internal audits of all job descriptions against a rubric set by outside professionals to challenge bias in hiring. Application review will be conducted by more than one individual to ensure accountability.
*This is a living document. Further action points will be added as they are undertaken.