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Shakespeare & Company’s Commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA)
At Shakespeare & Company, we believe that live theater connects us all in the universal pursuit of purposeful existence, and reveals the meaning of our humanity through storytelling.
This can only be achieved when theater is genuinely inclusive and reflects everyone’s stories – particularly those individuals and groups who’ve been ignored, diminished, or erased.
In June 2020, Shakespeare & Company released an anti-racism statement expressing a commitment to building a more inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible culture.
Since then, the Company has made incremental steps toward this goal. Along our journey, and with the realization of the magnitude of the task before us, we have moved forward carefully and deliberately in an effort to remain both aware of and accountable for the impact of our actions.
Some of Shakespeare & Company’s recent IDEA initiatives include:
To continue educating ourselves in Cultural Competency and deepen our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility knowledge, all full-time, part-time, and seasonal staff are asked to complete sexual harassment training, review Understanding How White Supremacy Shows Up in Systems, Policies and Practicesresources via BRIDGE, watch a video by Dr. Derald Wing Sue on microaggressions, and complete Bystander Intervention in the Workplace training with Hollaback.
The #LiveinCompany Campaign
At Shakespeare & Company, we believe three vital questions are at the heart of every Shakespearean play: What does it mean to be alive? How should we act? What must I do? To continue to explore these questions, the #LiveinCompany social media campaign launched in February, 2022 in conjunction with Black History Month, spotlighting Black Voices that resonate with Company members, artists, and friends. The hashtag was devised to serve as a vehicle for many types of inclusion and diversity messages, i.e. Women’s History Month or Transgender Day of Remembrance, and to call greater attention to Shakespeare & Company’s work in the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility space, with the goal of communicating the Company’s mission and vision to a larger, more diverse audience.
Web accessibility is a series of communication principles that open a website to a larger audience, while improving the overall experience for all visitors. Title III of the American Disabilities Act prohibits disability-based discrimination for places of public accommodation, including nonprofits. Organizations must make reasonable accommodations to allow people with disabilities to access their services, and this includes website accessibility for users with vision, hearing, mobility, and cognitive challenges. To ensure Shakespeare & Company reaches and remains within ADA compliance – and in turn continues to pursue ideal accessibility – the Company has begun making ongoing accessibility updates to website content, including making all downloadable forms on its website accessible, including those used for program enrollment, employment and internship inquiries, and sponsorship opportunities; incorporating best practices when updating and adding content – i.e. copy and photos – such as adding alt text to all images and creating meaningful text links.
Pronoun Inclusion in Marketing Materials
In 2022, Shakespeare & Company began incorporating Company Artist and Faculty pronouns, when approved by the individual, in marketing materials including press releases, e-blasts, and promotional print materials. The 2022 Season Playbill will include pronouns for Company Artists for the first time – again, based on the individual’s preference.
Multicultural BRIDGE Partnership
Shakespeare & Company engaged Multicultural BRIDGE – Berkshire Resources for the Integration of Diverse Groups and Education – in 2018 to offer training to staff, board members, artists, and educators, in an effort to fully integrate IDEA work into the company.
In August 2020, the Shakespeare & Company Board of Trustees completed the first phase of IDEA training with BRIDGE, increasing their awareness of accountability, and establishing the commitment to set aside resources, time, and attention to IDEA and racial justice work. This includes funding in the short term and, in the long term, building a more diverse board. Time to discuss and advance IDEA work is now incorporated into every board meeting agenda.
Berkshire County Inclusive Leadership Cohort
Artistic Director Allyn Burrows and Chair of the Board of Trustees Beverly Hyman, Ph.D., represent Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshire County Inclusive Leadership Cohort, meeting weekly to further engage in and deepen the work for business and cultural leaders in Berkshire County. This peer-led program will help local cross-sector leaders refine their own equity and inclusion initiatives through race analysis and by working towards a goal of positive social impact in our local community.
Human Resource Management Funding
Funding was designated to hire a consultant in Human Resource Management to assess the Company’s needs and work environment. This assessment was completed in August 2022 in coordination with staff in order to devise a long-term plan for human resources, including management of equity and inclusion practices, and to amend and reinforce a system for all staff and seasonal employees to report instances of harassment or bias confidentially.
An IDEA committee made up of board members, staff, and seasonal artists has met every other week since October 2020 to develop a shared vision and charter which will lead to a phased action plan of next steps for the board, staff, and volunteers.
In our workplace and programming, we will continue to develop policies and procedures to prevent and address instances of racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, and any other discriminatory behavior that is inconsistent with our commitment to a fully inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible culture.