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Anti-Racist Policies, Procedures, and Practices

ARC Bylaws

Performing Arts Workshop’s Anti-Racism Committee is dedicated to holding Performing Arts Workshop and its Partners, Funders, Board Members, and Administrative and Artistic Staff accountable to our commitment to anti-racism. Our purpose is to deepen our practice of anti-racism and evolve our thinking as we continue to learn the depths of the impacts of racism. We commit to listening closely and applying solutions and actions suggested by people most affected by racism. 

ARC Bylaws are written agreements to support the committee’s purpose, voting structure, membership guidelines, and organizational initiatives.

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Anti-Racist Classroom Framework

Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. … So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.” –Scott Woods

Context: Regardless of our personal or familial intentions, we have all been born into a racist and anti-Black society with deeply racist institutions and worldviews. The harm done by racism exists on a spectrum: from individual thoughts and ideas to overarching systems, from overt discrimination and hate to more subtle, passive microaggressions. As teaching artists in the Bay Area, we need to be aware of this particular cultural context where racism shows up covertly/implicitly as well as explicitly in supposed “progressive” communities.

Just as no individual escapes the impact of being born into racism, no institution is exempt from racism/white supremacy. One of the racist institutions we are confronted with the most in our work is our education system, including the very classrooms we step into as teachers. Based on what we have observed and experienced, and perhaps the racism that we may have perpetuated, it is imperative that we name these interactions, thoughts, ideas and systems. By naming racism and racial tensions, we are not “bringing race into the classroom;” it is already there. We are stepping into racist classrooms as a consequence of living in a racist society. As teaching artists, if we are not actively interrupting racism, we are complicit in perpetuating racism. 

It is not enough to “not be racist.” We must practice anti-racism.

The History of this Framework: During the 2017-2018 school year, Performing Arts Workshop program and artistic staff collaborated on the first iteration of this Anti-Racist Framework. The intention was to create a useful tool for artists to reflect on their teaching practices and find ways to practice anti-racism in their classrooms. We wanted to consider the wide range of experiences with racism within the wide range of Performing Arts Workshop classrooms. We hoped to create norms that teaching artists could adopt to ensure that we were working actively against racism in the classroom. 

Current Version of this Framework: We designed the Anti-Racist Framework to be a living document, one that would be consistently updated and evolving. Thanks to crucial feedback and input from Performing Arts Workshop artistic staff members, we are able to present this new version of the Anti-Racist Framework for 2019. We remain open to an evolving understanding of the practice of anti-racism, and we invite you (the person reading this) to share your thoughts with us.

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Artist Educator Agreement

Strong collaboration between the artist and educator will offer a successful residency experience for the students. This includes a mutual respect and support for what each is trying to achieve with this program. We greatly appreciate your positive commitment to supporting the artist in the classroom. Differences of opinion in conducting the class or other matters should be resolved outside of the classroom. As communication is critical to achieving success, *one hour is set aside during the first week of the residency for the artist and educator to meet to discuss creative ideas and any potential challenges and to begin planning collaborations on anti-racist practice in the classroom and in communication. Subsequent weekly meetings or alternative communication (e.g. phone, email, online platform like Zoom, Google Hangouts) are encouraged for debriefing.

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Anti-Racist Partnership Framework

It’s never too early to talk about race with children. Studies have shown that babies as young as six months old can recognize the differences in skin color; by age two and a half, they may prefer to play with kids who are similar in race and gender; by age three, they are capable of making judgments on people based on race. We believe what children see, hear, learn and experience from their families, caretakers, school, and communities they are involved in is a big part of how they see races that are different from their own.

The purpose of this document is to open the conversation with your site on how we can interrupt and eliminate the coded racism in our educational system, and cultivate an inclusive and diverse learning environment for our students through art-making and our partnership.

In order to cartake for the success of our collaboration, we’ve found that aligning on frameworks and values at the beginning of partnerships is best practice. That way, as issues, questions, and/or conflict arises (which we believe to be healthy and inevitable parts of collaboration), we have shared agreements for how we will approach them.

Please review this Anti-Racist Partnership Framework for context, guiding questions, and scenarios to consider. This is also a helpful document for teachers to discuss in the pre-residency meeting with the Teaching Artist assigned to their classroom. Our artists have reviewed this partnership framework with their classroom teacher and both have signed our artist educator agreement.

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Pro Black Accountability Plan

A policy and action based proposal to hold Performing Arts Workshop accountable to our commitment to be actively Pro Black.
Includes: Recommended Actions, Recommended Policies, Recommended Supporting Documents, Recommended Timelines, Recommended Methods of Measurement, Research to Conduct, and Questions to Consider

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Accountability protocol

In a racist and white supremacist society, perpetuating racism is the norm. To practice anti-racism, we have to be open to receiving and responding to feedback on issues of race. We seek to build a feedback-rich culture among Performing Arts Workshop’s artistic and administrative staff. Our goal is to use feedback to interrupt racism and support the well-being of our Black students and students of color.

The purpose of this document is to establish a standard protocol for receiving, applying, and giving feedback on issues of race, and to create transparency around that protocol. This is a living document, and is subject to change. The desired outcome of the protocol is to repair harm done to Black students and staff (administrative and artistic) and students and staff (administrative and artistic) of color, while also providing additional support and mentorship for artists that will help them grow their teaching practice. Our expectation is that every Workshop staff member may participate in this protocol at some point during their time here.

Our hope is that successful engagement with the protocol can be a resource for artists to better support their Black students and students of color. We expect all staff (administrative and artistic) to have a strong enough working foundation with anti-racist work in order to engage with the protocol successfully. We do not have the capacity to support individual growth in every situation, and are only able to offer opportunities for growth to those who have already demonstrated their understanding of and commitment to anti-racism. Failure to engage actively and thoughtfully with this protocol may have serious consequences. A response plan (Accountability action plan template) will be determined by an Acting Executive Co-Director or Program Manager, and may depend on: the nature and severity of the issues raised, the artist’s responsiveness and incorporation of feedback, and the staff’s overall performance, specifically regarding anti-racism. If the issue raised shows a pattern of repeated similar behaviors, that will affect the severity and urgency of the response plan. The response plan could include a “Performance Improvement Plan” (series of specific steps a staff member must take to remain employed at the Workshop), or in some cases an end to the staff’ member’s employment at the Workshop.

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Accountability action plan template

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Community Care Collective Purpose & Structure

Performing Arts Workshop’s Community Care Collective is committed to supporting staff to care for themselves, one another, and the communities they are a part of.

In addition to all the important ways in which staff members collaborate to achieve Performing Arts Workshop’s mission, we aim to facilitate human ways to connect and strengthen our partnerships with colleagues and the art community we live within. We firmly believe that the love and work we place into growing our community bonds sustains us when the work is hardest.

We are not expecting any forced intimacy or relationship building outside of work, but we hope staff can support one another in their work, and how they show up beyond that is up to them. We are planting seeds of community care, and staff decides how they grow, maintain, or create boundaries around those opportunities.

This commitment requires strong anti-racist structures, policies, and procedures to be effective, because we understand that connecting as a community requires that the systems we work within are intentionally equitable and work toward minimizing employment bias.

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