The Chicago Inclusion Project Announces Anti-Racism Workshops for Theatre and Arts Organizations

The staff of The Chicago Inclusion Project is excited to launch a new workshop and continuum developed by staff members Jessica Vann and Arti Ishak.

The workshop, entitled “Being Anti-Racist: An Active Action,” is designed for Theatre and Arts organizations looking for a comprehensive deep-dive into Anti-Racist practices and actionable steps toward becoming an Anti-Racist organization. After taking this workshop, companies will have a deeper understanding of where their institution stands, and a clear idea of actions that can be taken to achieve Anti-Racism goals.

Inspired by Enrich Chicago & Crossroad’s Continuum Becoming an Anti Racist Multicultural Organization, the Continuum of Anti-Racist Representation in the Arts is an industry-specific tool that provides tangible guideposts to help transform your theatre or performing arts organization into its most equitable form, giving both multi-cultural and predominantly white organizations a way to measure progress when striving for equitable inclusion.

“The Chicago Inclusion Project had just launched our professional development training series for marginalized artists when Arti Ishak and Jessica Vann pitched us their ideas to extend our training into the very institutions in which these actors are trying to work,” said founder and producer Emjoy Gavino.  “It made perfect sense as a next step.  Members of The Chicago Inclusion Project staff have worked at all levels of the industry–as actors, directors, designers and administrators. We were able to use our collective experiences to develop a workshop that will inform all levels of an organization.”

In the beginning of 2021, Arti and Jessica led a pilot program to refine a cohort-style workshop, involving such organizations as Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Sideshow Theatre, Black Box Acting, The New Coordinates, Interrobang Theatre Project, The Gift Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, and Steep Theatre.

“It has been a nearly three-year process of creating, developing and executing a workshop that provides tools for arts organizations to dig deep into their process and structures,” states Jessica Vann, Chicago Inclusion Project program facilitator. “Through our program, we help organizations identify and articulate challenges specific to their structures, interrogate their processes and create meaningful action.”

“What sets this series apart is the emphasis on action,” remarks Arti Ishak, Chicago Inclusion Project program facilitator. “So often anti-racism work is very cerebral, you are given information and space for thinking, feeling, and understanding. While you will no doubt expand your knowledge around Anti-Racism, we also practice identifying bias in day-to-day ‘industry norms’ and give you a framework that will allow you to be an interrupter of harm should you see it happen. When you are armed with language to better articulate not only how the harm was caused but what could be done to prevent it next time, you have the opportunity to be a better ally, artistic leader, and human.”

“The Continuum of Anti-Racist Theatre was a valuable tool to assess where our institution was making strides, and what we still had to accomplish toward our goal. The group sessions were very informative, but the highlight was the individual project planning and solution building sessions with the leadership team that encouraged us to put the principles we were learning into practice,” remarked Regina Victor, Artistic Director of Sideshow Theatre. “Only a couple of months later, our company has implemented several of the goals we outlined in our project plans with Arti and Jess. Any institution interested in self-evaluation and productive action in regards to anti-racism should take this course.”

“TCIP’s continuum partnered closely with our organization to move us further along in our equity goals. We were able to create specific tactical goals in relation with TCIP and discuss challenges and opportunities with the theatres. TCIP’s continuum is a necessary and vital part of the Chicago theatre community,” said board president Rebecca Lawson of Interrobang Theatre Project.

Michael Patrick Thornton, the Artistic Director of The Gift Theatre stated, “Since its inception, The Chicago Inclusion Project has been a steady force for positive and demonstrable change. With their Anti-Racist training program, they provide lovingly intentional space for reflection, conversation, and action-oriented change. The fact that they were able to provide all this in a modest amount of sessions is astounding; the fact that they provided such an environment over Zoom…nothing short of a miracle. Hire them. Grab your journal. Then start making some changes. You and your organization will be better for it.”

Beginning October 5, individual artists and arts organizations can apply to work with The Chicago Inclusion Project through their website: www.thechicagoinclusionproject.org.  Individuals who are not affiliated with a specific company may apply to attend an Anti-Racism training led by The Chicago Inclusion Project.  This workshop will take place virtually on November 5, 2021.

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About The Chicago Inclusion Project

The Chicago Inclusion Project is a collective of artists, committed to facilitating inclusive experiences and hiring practices throughout Chicago Theatre by bringing together artists and audiences normally separated by ethnic background, economic status, gender identity, physical ability and countless other barriers.

For more information, visit www.thechicagoinclusionproject.org.

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