Where we are: October 1, 2020. At New Georges, we have spent our careers consciously working counter to structures that traditionally divide institutions and artists. Our company seeks to support artists as they drive their own processes, to explore varied production models, and to approach administrative practice with the same level of invention with which we approach artistic work.
This does not mean that oppressive structures, systems and practices are not in place here. Our organization was founded by white women and was led by only white women for most of its history, and has not avoided participation in many entrenched practices of nonprofit culture.
This moment is a welcome opportunity to work with our core community to investigate our practices in order to serve all of us better. As process-driven downtown theatermakers, we approach this with all the risk-taking, rule-breaking skills at our disposal, and will act with ingenuity to recalibrate our organization and create a liberated space for our artists and ourselves.
A laboratory for action. This summer we convened a working group of New Georges artists (initially of white artists) to explore burning questions and paths to change. This conversation will next expand to our broader artist community with an invitation to participate in a series of envisioning sessions.
The sessions will have rotating leadership, and start with the interconnected investigations below. We’re calling these ACTION LABS.
ACTION LAB: HISTORICAL Examine: the evolution of New Georges, its culture and programs, including key junctures and assumptions that influenced the development of core practices. We will evaluate areas for change and propose amendments.
Examine: how did the aesthetically-diverse “downtown theaters” of New Georges’ generation, founded on a radical impulse, emerge as predominantly white endeavors? We will explore ways to rejuvenate that impulse and apply it to changing the makeup of the field.
Examine: if points of entry to New Georges’ community of artists have often been based in mutual relationships, who is excluded? We will identify how we can expand the paths to participation.
ACTION LAB: ECONOMIC Examine: the economics of small theaters, by exploring the function of money in our work. In our quest to uncover a more equitable economic blueprint, we will explore low-road capitalism and alternative economies (such as co-op and barter systems), and use our own projects to experiment with payment structures.
Examine: the history of not-for-profit structures in the United States and the ways these relatively recent norms have manifested in theater organizations. Can we change the impact of these structures on our organization? Or are we destined to build something new?
ACTION LAB: CREATIVE Experiment: create a tool that uses the art form we love to fertilize the soil of our conversations. We will make a short collaborative play* to be performed in caucus spaces before participants sit down to do antiracism work. Often in these spaces, we’ve found, there’s lots of prelude: things people feel they have to say in order to transparently enter in. Putting familiar discomforts and defenses into dialogue, right at the top, with humor and empathy, provides a common frame of reference and thrusts us right into what we came to talk about. It’s been said, let’s dive in! This resource, which would be available to anyone who wants to use it (on video or performed live by participants), combines our theatrical efforts and racial justice work in a unique way with the potential to open everyone up to freer and more productive conversations. *or several plays, created by different artists and/or for different spaces: all-white spaces, BIPOC spaces, multiracial spaces
A working proposal. These commitments reflect current thinking within an ongoing process. We will update them as we progress and welcome any feedback you would like to provide along the way. Here’s a form to make it easy to talk to us.
In addition, if there are ways that our people or our practices have failed you or done harm to you, we would like to know, so we can include those instances in our examination and take specific action. Here is a form through which you can provide that information anonymously.