Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Anti-Racism

Since mid-2020, KCRep has engaged in a deliberate, strategic and heart-expanding process of educating and involving our board and staff in the important work of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-Racism (IDEA). This work has had a profound impact on us personally and on our organization and we are excited to engage our broader community. There is significant work to be done as we make changes now and build a long-term culture of belonging and anti-racism for us at Kansas City Repertory Theatre. We are committed to being part of the solution that advances equity and creates a more inclusive KCRep and American Theatre, and we invite you all to join us in this on-going evolution.

Our Framework

IDENTIFY AND ADDRESS BARRIERS TO IDEA PRACTICES

We will review all policies and practices with an IDEA lens, making recommendations for appropriate revisions.

ENSURE INCLUSIVE REPRESENTATION

We will invite and share stories that reflect the identities of our entire community across all touchpoints (e.g., programming, marketing, production, audiences.)

BUILD ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR IDEA PRINCIPLES

We will establish budget planning policies that support the idea work while also creating a plan for socializing our work in the community.

CULTIVATE IDEA PARTNERSHIPS

We will cultivate partnerships throughout the theater community that demonstrate our commitment to equity and representation.

COMMIT TO IDEA LEARNING AND AWARENESS

We will implement a comprehensive development plan that supports ongoing IDEA learning and awareness for staff, board, artists, and audiences.

EXPECT ACCOUNTABILITY

We will hold ourselves accountable for driving the intended actions and the desired outcomes set by the IDEA framework.

Ongoing Work

We plan to share updates on a regular basis so please check back for new developments, starting with the links below. And as always, please feel free to connect with us regarding our work at any time. We are eager to join in conversations surrounding this journey to create a more equitable organization.

Updates

  • We are making disclosures to designers as they are in the hiring process.
  • Our Land Acknowledgement was shared before every performance of Mary’s Wedding and Ghost Light and will continue to be shared before every performance moving forward. It is also included in all board and committee meeting materials and read out loud before board and internal KCRep staff meetings.
  • Salary ranges are now listed in each job posting.
  • We have eliminated “years of experience”, degree requirements, physical requirements from Production Department job descriptions.
  • Production Department Heads met for weekly Anti-racism meetings from July through October. We have now transitioned to a monthly meeting that includes the full staff of the production department.
  • Board and staff came together again for training from Sophic Solutions to build a common language for IDEA work.
  • Chris Hernandez was named as co-chair along with Bunni Copaken for the Board IDEA committee for FY22
  • Mission and Vision for company updated with IDEA principles top of mind.
  • Staff participated in a Race Equity Survey.
  • Dedicated time and resources to roll new staff members into the work as they join the KCRep team. Full staff IDEA update presented by Staff IDEA committee on 10/28/2021.
  • Created a BIPOC affinity group for BIPOC artists and creatives in Kansas City.
  • A chart explaining our IDEA framework was included in our programs for Mary’s Wedding and Ghost Light and will be included in all programs moving forward.
  • The Board IDEA committee surveyed the full board to determine how much each committee felt the framework could be applied to individual committees.
  • Board committees appointed a representative to the IDEA committee who will ensure the framework is implemented at the committee level.
  • In support of the recent Mission, Vision, and IDEA work, the entire organization has been exploring, evaluating, and practicing being intentional with Core Values since May.

  • The staff IDEA committee has added two new members to the team.
  • The staff IDEA committee has supported the Board IDEA committee in reworking KCRep’s vision and mission through an IDEA lens.
  • The staff IDEA committee has been working to clarify the committee’s vision and goals before creating a roadmap of the work to be done.
  • We have hired Bambee, a BIPOC-owned HR consulting company and retained a BIPOC HR professional to provide HR support to the entire organization.
  • We have incorporated IDEA work and the advancement of that work into our performance management system. Therefore, moving forward our IDEA work will be part of all evaluation discussions and documented on the relevant forms/systems.
  • The board governance committee is working to remove barriers to having a diverse board of directors and therefore have removed the “give-get” agreement that Board Members previously had to adhere to. The committee is focused on recruiting new members who represent all communities in Kansas City.
  • Members of the leadership team went through the We See You White American Theatre demands line by line and identified areas of change to engage with on both an immediate and 3-5-year timeline. We will continue to revisit this document and monitor progress.
  • In an effort to build community connections and bring our work to more of our fellow Kansas Citians, we have announced partnerships with both the National World War 1 Museum and Memorial and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. We will be performing the first show of our 21-22 season, Mary’s Wedding by Stephen Massicotte on the grounds of the National World War 1 Museum and Memorial and we will be returning to the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for Ghost Light: A Haunted Night of Songs and Stories from KC’s Cultural Crossroads. This year’s edition of Ghost Light will also feature Enrique Chi and Juan Carlos Chaurand of the Latin Grammy-nominated band Making Movies.


In June of 2020 and as part of the Social Justice movement across the country an extraordinary collective of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Theatre Artists shared a list of demands called We See You White American Theatre. The demands highlight areas of inequity and racism in the American Theatre and also share pathways to activate change throughout the industry. We give thanks and our gratitude to The Ground We Stand On collective for their extraordinary advocacy on behalf of the entire theatre field for a more inclusive, diverse and anti-racist American Theatre. We at KCRep are embracing the demands and engage with them every day as a guide and inspiration as we make changes now and build a long-term culture of belonging and anti-racism roadmap for us at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

Below is a snapshot update on our IDEA work inspired by the WSYWAT demands. We will share additional commitments and more about our IDEA work in relation to The Ground We Stand On collective here.

Cultural Competency

  • We are committed to and engaged in ongoing mandatory EDI and Anti-Racism Training for executive leadership, board and staff. And committed to a dedicated budget line item for consistent EDI work throughout our organization.
  • We are committed to quarterly anti-racism trainings and learnings with a priority on bystander intervention, de-escalation and conflict resolution training. These commitments are also represented in our budget.
  • We are committed to expanding meaningful, long-term relationships with BIPOC artists nationally and with a priority on the Kansas City region.
  • We will continue to share our Land Acknowledgment at first rehearsals as we have the past three years and will now share our Land Acknowledgement at all board meetings, outward facing events, and gatherings of more than ten staff members.

Working Conditions and Hiring Practices

  • We commit to transparency as we build a cast and creative team so that BIPOC artists know who they are collaborating with.

Artistic and Curatorial Practices

  • We are committed to centering BIPOC artists in telling their own stories.
  • We will continue and expand the hiring of BIPOC artists on period/canonical texts. This was a priority established for the new artistic team in 2019 and will continue to be a priority.
  • We are committed to at minimum 50% BIPOC designers in the 2021-23 seasons overall and by the 2023-24 season at minimum 50% BIPOC design teams for every production.
  • We will continue to eliminate 10 out of 12s and this season begin 5-day rehearsal weeks.
  • We commit to hiring therapists or counselors for stories that deal with racialized trauma.

Transparency, Compensation, Accountability and Boards

  • We have created an executive board level Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-Racism committee and established the expectation that all board members will be engaged in our anti-racism learning and work.
  • We certify our highest paid executives are not covered by employment agreements nor is their compensation 10X that of our lowest paid full-time associate.
  • Our financial results are subjected to an annual audit and said audit is included on our website and provided to all major donors.
  • In our annual report, we commit to publish total dollars earned by BIPOC and other artists and staff in a season in a manner in which highlights the work we have done, and the work yet to be done in creating a diverse and equitable company.
  • In response to a review of the makeup of our board of directors, we have instituted two BIPOC alliance committees (IDEA), one comprised and lead by our board and one created to guide the work to be done by staff. We intend for these two committees to collaborate and are represented by BIPOC directors and staff to evaluate the mission and vision of the theatre and collaborate with executive leadership and the board to build a strategic plan designed to move the theatre toward anti-racist practices. The board members are and will be voting board members.

Marketing and Audience Experience

  • Committed to investing in training for our box office, front of house staff and volunteers that will include the development of intervention and disruption protocols for harmful moments.
  • Abolishing the policing practices of audience response and promote statements of inclusion for BIPOC audience cultural practices.
  • Invest in and foster reciprocal relationships in BIPOC communities with a concentrated focus and investment in long-term BIPOC audience development.
  • Acknowledge that the practice of maintaining donors, subscribers, and board members should also be applied to creating relationships with BIPOC audiences, and not exclusively for BIPOC shows.


The Ground We Stand On Collective,

We write to give thanks and update you on our engagement with the We See You White American Theatre demands. As we have engaged with the demands over the last eight months, they have had a profound impact on us personally and on our organization. We thank you for the labor and insights that went into their creation. We also acknowledge the pain and harm that catalyzed the need for them. We are embracing the demands and engage with them every day as a guide and inspiration as we make changes now and build a long-term inclusion, diversity, equity and anti-racism roadmap for us at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

Since we received the demands in July of 2020, KCRep has been engaged in the deliberate, strategic and heart expanding process of evaluating, educating and building a trustworthy process for involving our board, staff and community in this work. We have engaged in weekly anti-racist learning sessions, hired long-term EDI consultants, hosted a board and staff anti-racism retreat, created board and staff led anti-racism working groups, and are evaluating each individual demand and how we will address them as we create a strong foundation for our continued anti-racist work.  We have made long-term commitments with both board and staff to invest in ongoing education, and apply that learning to policy, procedures and practices changes.

What we share below is a snapshot update highlighting some of the areas of learning, change and commitments at Kansas City Repertory Theatre in relation to the demands. We plan to share an overview and regular updates on a digital page on our website in late April but wanted to share with you now some examples of our engagement with the demands.

Cultural Competency 

  1. We are committed to and engaged in ongoing mandatory EDI and Anti-Racism Training for executive leadership, board and staff. And committed to a dedicated budget line item for consistent EDI work throughout our organization.
  2. We are committed to quarterly anti-racism trainings and learnings with a priority on bystander intervention, de-escalation and conflict resolution training. These commitments are also represented in our budget.
  3. We are committed to expanding meaningful, long-term relationships with BIPOC artists nationally and with a priority on the Kansas City region.
  4. We will continue to share our Land Acknowledgment at first rehearsals as we have the past three years and will now share our Land Acknowledgement at all board meetings, outward facing events, and gatherings of more than ten staff members.

Working Conditions and Hiring Practices

  1. We will continue to eliminate 10 out of 12s and this season begin 5 day rehearsal weeks.
  2. We commit to transparency as we build a cast and creative team so that BIPOC artists know who they are collaborating with.
  3. We have evaluated and revised our production job descriptions so that they are free of unconscious bias, including language such as “year of experience” requirements.
  4. We commit to casting processes that reflect the cultural specificity of the shows being cast.

Artistic and Curatorial Practices 

  1. We are committed to centering BIPOC artists in telling their own stories.
  2. We will continue and expand the hiring of BIPOC artists on period/canonical texts. This was a priority established for the new artistic team in 2019 and will continue to be a priority.
  3. We are committed to at minimum 50% BIPOC designers in the 2021-23 seasons overall and by the 2023-24 season at minimum 50% BIPOC design teams for every production.
  4. We commit to hiring therapists or counselors for stories that deal with racialized trauma.

Transparency, Compensation, Accountability and Boards

  1. We have created an executive board level Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-Racism (IDEA) committee and established the expectation that all board members will be engaged in our anti-racism learning and work.
  2. We certify our highest paid executives are compensated less than 10X that of our lowest paid full-time associate.
  3. Our financial results are subjected to an annual audit and the audit is included on our website.
  4. In response to a review of the makeup of our board of directors, we have instituted two alliance committees, one comprised and led by our board and one created to guide the work to be done by staff. The IDEA committees are led by directors and staff and collaborate with the theatre’s leadership team, board, and our EDI consultants Together we are developing a strategic plan designed to move the theatre toward anti-racist practices. The board members are and will be voting board members.

Marketing and Audience Experience

  1. We are committed to investing in training for our box office, front of house staff and volunteers that will include the development of intervention and disruption protocols for harmful moments.
  2. We commit to abolish the policing practices of audience response and promote statements of inclusion for BIPOC audience cultural practices.
  3. We commit to invest in and foster reciprocal relationships in BIPOC communities with a concentrated focus and investment in long-term BIPOC audience development.
  4. We acknowledge that the practice of maintaining donors, subscribers, and board members should also be applied to creating relationships with BIPOC audiences, and not exclusively for BIPOC shows.

We at KCRep are embracing and in-process with all the demands and commit to furthering this work with our staff and board IDEA committees’ partnership. Many additional commitments as well as updates on our progress and commitments will be shared publicly, and regularly, as we activate our learning and evaluation of the last eight months into an active chart of work and roadmap.

Thank you and with appreciation,

Stuart Carden
Artistic Director

Angela Gieras
Executive Director

Land Acknowledgement

I ask you to please draw your awareness to your principal relationship with the Earth and if possible making direct contact. I open with the acknowledgement that the land in which we are currently located is occupied territories. On the traditional land and the ancestral home of Native Americans, Indigenous, and First Nations people I ask you to join me in acknowledging the 98 tribal groups from our area including, the Kickapoo, Kaw, Osage, Otos, Missouri, Pottawatomie, Sioux, Shawnee, and Wyandot tribes. We honor the elders both the past and the present. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn the stories of these people as well as how to be better stewards of the land that we inhabit. Thank you.

Learn more about our land acknowledgement.

Public Statements

As a live professional theatre, KCRep believes that theatre is for everyone. We believe that KCRep is your theatre and we strive to create an inclusive, diverse, equitable and anti-racist theatre. From time to time, KCRep will issue statements related to areas that we believe foster a more inclusive environment. You will find our previous statements by clicking here.

Meet our IDEA Committee

KCRep acknowledges that systemic change requires action with both the board and staff. We created two IDEA committees to work in concert with each other on changes to policies, practices and recruiting that will impact our IDEA goals with both board and staff. These individuals are leaders who are passionate about IDEA work and impacting lasting change.

IDEA Committee Charge
To identify barriers and change practice and policies to create a KCRep culture of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-racism.

KCRep IDEA Commitment Statement
KCRep values Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Anti-Racism in all we do.

  • We operate from a place of courage and curiosity to bring about an equitable environment and sense of belonging for everyone in every aspect of our theater.
  • We foster empathy and understanding and believe in opportunity and justice for all.


Board IDEA Committee Chairs
Bunni Copaken
Chris Hernandez


Staff IDEA Committee Chairs
April Brewer
Andrew Cotlar
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