IDEA Work Updates
Public input or questions on Two River’s Inclusion,
Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) work are welcome via email at IDEAcollective@trtc.org.
Updated September 2023
Initiatives undertaken and accomplished during this season in alignment with Two River’s IDEA commitment included:
• All staff participated in a training session led by Diaz Inclusion Consulting, after they had conducted an IDEA Audit across all departments last season
• Compiled and assessed the results of cross-department #We See You White American Theater Audit, identified next areas of focus, and presented it to the theater’s new leadership
• Employee Assistance Program (EAP) rolled-out for all full-time and regular part-time employees offering free counseling sessions and referrals to community resources on family support services, elder care, legal counsel, housing resources, etc.
• Hired IDEA consultant Noelle Diane Johnson of ArtistsHeal for the production of Living & Breathing, whose services included support and guidance in the rehearsal room as well as leading post-show discussions with the public
• Front of House staff received training from ArtistsHeal for de-escalation techniques
• Bathroom signage was adjusted to reflect availability for All Gender Bathrooms
• Made an institutional language switch from Lantinx to Lantine
• Education department made plans to offer subsidized transportation to participants in the Howard Aronson Metro Scholars program
• Added Travel Coverage for Emerging Professionals
• Supported Emerging Professionals with purchasing show-running clothes for the season
• Officially changed from EDI to IDEA, in order to bring in the Access Committee and accessibility initiatives as part of broader equity, diversity, and inclusion mission
During the 2021/22 Season, we continued to hold regular and mandatory full-staff EDI meetings. Examples of topics covered in our EDI Meetings during 2021/22 include but aren’t limited to: Gender Identity Practices; Land Acknowledgements; Prison Reform; National Hispanic Heritage Month; Artist Experiences During the Pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprising; Racial Disparities by Design; Conflict De-escalation; and Likeability in the Workplace. On a periodic basis, we offered workshops and trainings by professional facilitators and consultants. Recent workshops we have participated in include: “Bystander Intervention” by Right to Be (formerly Hollaback!); and “OF/BY/FOR Change Network” with the New Jersey Theater Alliance EDI Committee.
Two River Theater recently underwent an IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) Audit of our organization through Diaz Inclusion Consulting. As we welcome our new Executive Leadership this season, we look forward to processing this audit and creating actionable plans for the new year and beyond.
We acknowledge that the 2020 pandemic affected everyone differently, and the BIMPOC (Black, Indigenous, Mixed, and People of Color) communities were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Started internally in 2017, in 2020 Two River Theater’s EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Committee deepened and broadened its commitment to becoming an anti-racist and anti-oppressive organization. This came about with renewed purpose and urgency in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the formation of We See You White American Theater. The Committee meets monthly and holds monthly full staff meetings focusing on the theater’s EDI work. Staff participated in a workshop “Virtual Dismantling Racism Learning Lab” with Equity Quotient.
In 2021, Two River Theater created a system to engage the entire staff in EDI work through a series of task forces and affinity groups. At every level, groups have been set up to mitigate hierarchical structures of power within the theater and allow for the elevation of all voices across all departments. Participation is mandatory.
We have split the larger EDI Committee into three Branches, made up of various Task Forces; we list them and their respective goals below. We are working to complete the short and long-term goals outlined here by the end of the 2021/22 season.
Representation Branch: To foster an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace at Two River Theater through collecting and developing materials and data to deepen the theater’s continued EDI work; performing audits of Two River’s current staff, artist, and programming demographics; expanding TRT’s hiring resources; and determining and implementing full staff engagement with this collected material.
- We See You White American Theater Audit Task Force: a group audited and assessed the List of Demands, ascertaining what TRT has already done, what has been started but not completed, and what hasn’t even been attempted. We will create an action plan for further implementation steps.Next steps include the creation of surveys for full staff, leadership, board, and other groups to clarify any areas of uncertainty within the task force’s audit.
- Resource Task Force: Collect articles, resources, documentaries, art, etc. pertaining to EDI work and formulate strategies for sharing and discussing resources with staff. A comprehensive resource library was compiled, organized, and posted on the internal staff portal webpage for staff to reference. Resources have also been included and distributed through the regular News & Happenings internal staff newsletter.
Workplace Practices Branch: The workplace practices branch focuses on identifying, assessing, executing and reinforcing institution-wide practices and policies, designed to create and maintain a professional and welcoming workplace centered in values of equity, diversity and inclusion.
- Ongoing Training and Facilitators Task Force: Creating resources, recommendations, and strategies for continuous cultural competency training.
- Vendors and Local Business Task Force: create systems and methods to source vendors who share our values and support BIPOC-owned business, especially in our community. The task force is preparing a survey to share with our business and vendor partners. The survey will ask them to supply information about their business practices related to Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I). Since the theater and audience activities generates $8 million dollars annually in economic support within our community, our intent is to prioritize our financial impact with business & vendor partners that share our ED&I values. A soft launch of this survey is scheduled soon.
- Company Connection Task Force: charged with creating a more welcoming, inclusive and equitable environment for all employees. The task force hosts post all-staff EDI meeting lunches where conversations can continue beyond the Zoom room as well as holding regular happy hours to gather and connect more personally. In December 2021, the task force organized the annual holiday party. The task force has also turned outward to our community by holding a staff led food drive for Lunchbreak, a local food pantry and community closet, through January and February of 2022.
Communications Branch: To create new communication practices that streamline and prioritize inclusivity and intersectionality for the full Two River staff (full-time, part-time, volunteers), artists and public. Guided by these practices, this committee will generate resources that will include but not be limited to: institutional language, visual materials and messaging campaigns that will be easily accessible by all.
- Social Media and Website Task Forces: on completion of the design and construction of the internal staff portal with resources and information for all staff members, these two task forces were combined to create the Digital Messaging Task Force. This task force will create the strategy and oversee sharing of resources with the public through the Two River Theater website and social media sites.
- Core Language Task Force: assist TRT leadership in creation of a Social Justice Statement, and create a centralized document or other system for core language and up to date messaging for EDI efforts. Created ED&I statement and Land Acknowledgement to be displayed in playbills and the theater lobby.