Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Affirmations & Acknowledgements
Porchlight reaffirms our total commitment to justice, equity, diversity, access, and inclusion as we advance our mission both on and off the stage. These principles are not only essential to Porchlight’s future vitality, relevance, and sustainability, they are critical to creating a more just and accessible industry and a better society.
Porchlight values its audiences, artists, technicians, staff, board, donors, community partners, teachers, students, and volunteers, and the uniqueness each brings to the tapestry of our art. We treat one another fairly and honor each other’s experiences, beliefs, perspectives, abilities, and backgrounds, regardless of race, religion, language, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identification, ability status, socio-economic status, national identity, or other identity markers.
Porchlight recognizes the history of oppression and injustice that has resulted in ongoing disparities for those who were brought here against their will or migrated from their homeland, as well as for those who have lived on this land for centuries. Truth and acknowledgment are critical in building mutual respect and authentic connections across all barriers of heritage and difference. This statement is one small step in acknowledging the history that brought us to this place and time, and to help us seek understanding of our place within that history:
“With humility and respect for the original caretakers of the land, we recognize that, at its performance home at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Porchlight Music Theatre inhabits the land of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations, and many other tribes such as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, and Fox who also call this land their home. We honor the sacred lands of all indigenous American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and First Nations peoples, and we humbly strive to create authentic collaborations that make space for and give voice to their rich culture and traditions.”
Porchlight is committed to aligning our values to our business practices. We are conscious of the need to promote diversity within our staff, board, performers, musicians, creative teams, production teams, and audiences, as well as to ensure fairness, justice, and inclusivity in our policies and procedures. We recognize this evolution is an ongoing process, and we invite you to read on to learn about our goals, follow our progress, and discover ways to learn more and get involved.
Our Anti-Racism Work in 2020/2021
Porchlight believes Black Lives Matter and stands with others in denouncing racism, bigotry, hate, and intolerance, and taking a stand is not enough. We understand that real, lasting change will not come until each and every one of us steps up, assumes responsibility, and takes action to address racism as it exists in every industry and at every organization, including our own and move to be more anti-racist.
We are stepping up our focus on the important work of being actively anti-racist. We recognize our responsibility to make Porchlight a place where BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists, audiences, colleagues, and beyond feel welcome, involved, supported, and heard, and to use our platform and privilege to reflect and implement this change.
- The staff has engaged in anti-racism training specific to our industry.
- We have finished a months-long audit of each program area’s materials, policies, procedures, using the “We See You White American Theatre” document as our guide.
- Based on those audits and in further considering ways we can be a more equitable and inclusive company, we have finalized the first draft of an action plan that addresses internal changes for this season, and future goals that inform our upcoming new strategic plan. This action plan will be reviewed by key stakeholders and will be shared in detail on this page in the new year.
- We are finalizing details to bring on an EDI consultant who will assist us in operationalizing our anti-racism plans and embedding the work into our culture.
- Our board will be participating in multiple targeted anti-racism sessions with our EDI consultant in the new year.
- We have formed an EDI Advisory Committee to inform our work and hold us accountable for the outcomes. Meeting quarterly, the committee is composed of diverse representatives from our artistic, educational, patron, and funding communities, with staff and board liaisons.
2020/2021 EDI Advisory Committee
We are currently a predominantly white organization, and even with the professional guidance of a consultant we need and value having diverse experiences and voices involved in reviewing our plans and efforts. We are grateful for the commitment of the following invited members who will meet quarterly beginning in January 2021.
Frankie Leo Bennett, Artist
E. Faye Butler, Artist
Cheryl Cooke, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager/Allstate
Ricky Harris, Artist/Educator
Jermaine Hill, Artist
James Earl Jones II, Artist
Mandy Katz, Volunteer Coordinator, Artists for Economic Transparency/Graduate Student, Master’s in Performing Arts Administration
Michelle Lauto, Artist/Educator
Alan Matsamura, Patron/Donor
Lorenzo Rush, Jr, Artist
Michael Weatherspoon, Musician/Author/Entrepreneur
Honey West, Artist
Will Wilhelm, Artist/Educator
Staff Liaisons: Jeannie Lukow, Christopher Pazdernik, Rebeccah Singer, Michael Weber
Board Liaisons: Michelle Cucchiaro, Rhona Frazin, Tony Gibson, Brian Troy
Definitions & Explanations
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Access – There are many acronyms, but the foundation of our EDI work encompasses these principles:
Equity: The fair and just treatment of all members of our community. Equity requires commitment to strategic priorities, resources, respect, and civility, as well as ongoing action and assessment of progress toward achieving specified goals.
Diversity: Acknowledging and respecting human qualities that are different from our own and outside the groups we are a part of or with which we are associated. These qualities include but are not limited to: ethnicity, race, color, country of origin, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, age, sexual or relationship orientation, family structure, religion, beliefs, political affiliations, experiences and ability differences.
Inclusion: The intentional, ongoing effort to ensure that diverse individuals fully participate in all aspects of organizational work, including decision-making processes. It also refers to the ways that diverse participants are valued as respected members of an organization and/or community.
Access: Giving equitable access to everyone along the continuum of human ability and experience. Accessibility encompasses the broader meanings of compliance and refers to how organizations make space for the characteristics that each person brings.
Check out this full glossary of EDI terms from DiversityBestPractices.com.
Gender Identity & Personal Pronouns – Learn more about why Porchlight and other companies around the globe are including personal pronouns wherever possible, including in introductions, contact sheets, email signatures, and more.
Check out Gender Identity for Beginners from Amnesty International UK.
Check out this Personal Pronoun Guide from GLSEN.
The resources and organizations listed are a small collection of possible sources for information and support. If you would like Porchlight to consider adding additional resources or organizations, please send an email to info@PorchlightMusicTheatre.org.
Please consider purchasing books from Semicolon Bookstore, Chicago’s only black woman-owned bookstore and gallery!
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
For Young Readers:
Anti-Racism Videos & Articles
Anti-Racism Places to Support
Indiginous Community Organizations