I hope that this message finds you staying safe and well as you move into the Fall. I want to take a moment to update you on the work SITI has done to become a more consciously anti-racist organization over the last year. This letter is the first in a series that we will issue every few months as a way of holding ourselves accountable to our community. This first installment will address the steps we have taken towards anti-racism and accountability up to this point, how we have modified our Core Values to reflect that work, and how that work has manifested in the training room.
In 2017, SITI Company began a strategic planning process to identify the organization’s larger goals as it approached its 30th Anniversary in 2022. The Company decided that it would cease its current operations at the end of 2022 and transition to a much smaller, more flexible collective. Our legacy will exist in the fragments of SITI that have taken root in our collaborators, in the thousands of artists who have trained with us or seen our work and then looked at the world differently than before.
SITI’s legacy planning has coincided with a nationwide, industry-wide reckoning around racial justice. Rather than ignore the calls for change as the company transitions, the ensemble, board, and staff decided to commit to a deep investigation of what it means to be an anti-racist theater company and prioritize the actionable changes we could make in our remaining years. This particular work was not originally part of our larger Legacy Plan, but we are grateful to have the opportunity to integrate it into activities that seek to preserve our long-term legacy. In committing to this work, we are recognizing that our organizational sunset can make space in the touring, producing, and funding landscapes so that resources may be made available to diverse, innovative ensembles that might not have had access to those opportunities previously.
Our anti-racism work seeks to reconcile SITI’s daily artistic practices with the horizontal and non-hierarchical values that we express publicly. To that end, we employed two consultants to help us facilitate conversations with our Black, Brown, Indigenous and Asian alumni so that we may serve them better. Our Legacy Plan activities now consciously include implementing anti-racist values into our operations so that we can more meaningfully promote and support the BIPOC artists who are a part of our ensemble and our larger alumni community.
Core Values & Vision Statement
Our Core Values & Vision Statement are the guiding principles in our decision-making process as an ensemble and an institution. Over the past year, we have revised this language to take into account the full spectrum of our anti-racism work. These updates are the result of many conversations between our ensemble, our Board of Directors, our staff, and two outside consultants, Deadria Harrington and Nicole M. Brewer.
With this new language, SITI Company is prepared to lead by example and do all that it can to promote artists of color and ensure that they are given the tools to be successful in our training and rehearsal rooms.
In our ongoing anti-racism work we will:
Be actively anti-racist in our art making and practice.
Remember that we are all responsible for maintaining safety and equality.
Acknowledge when harm is done and tend to it, focusing on the impact.
Create a space where people feel they can speak up and question the status quo.
Create a space where differences are celebrated.
Be open to change.
Our full list of core values is available to read on our website.
In the Training Studio
Since last Summer, SITI Company has made a concerted effort to diversify our training studio. This has included expanding scholarship opportunities for BIPOC artists and re-thinking recruitment strategies to reach new communities.
To that end, SITI Company is proud to share that
- We have awarded over $25,000 in scholarships to over 80 BIPOC artists for training programs that occurred between August 2020 and July 2021.
- We enrolled the highest percentage of BIPOC artists in our 2021 Summer Theater Workshop with Skidmore College in the program’s history.
- We have offered trainings in collaboration with BIPOC-led institutions such as Spelman College (Atlanta, GA) to bring the SITI training into new communities. We also partnered with the newly-formed Outside In Theatre (Los Angeles, CA) earlier this summer to engage more theatermakers of color in the LA area.
While I am very proud of our work up to this point, I know that we still have a long way to go. I share this with you to provide transparency and so that our community can help hold us accountable.
We look forward to sharing more updates with you as we continue to move through this journey.
SITI Executive Director