Community Update: Pauses, Plans, and Action Steps
A version of this article appeared in our July 2020 Newsletter. Subscribe to our mailing list receive more updates like these straight to your inbox!
To our beautiful Lark Community,
You may have noticed that last month, we didn’t send out our June newsletter (and that our July newsletter is coming out a little later than usual). You also may not have noticed, because the world is a lot right now. Which is why we held back some of our usual communications. In light of the intense, emotional weight brought on by the ongoing tragedies caused by systemic racism against Black people, we at The Lark took some time to pause our regular work, reflect, and recalibrate. Business as usual, in a world where the “usual” means the marginalization and oppression of Black people, is not something we want to partake in. (Thanks to artEquity for uplifting this point).
Lifting voices is what we do. Since its origins, The Lark’s mission has been to provide transformative support to playwrights. We believe playwrights are society’s truth tellers and that they strengthen our collective capacity to understand our world and imagine its future. Over the last few weeks, the staff and board of The Lark have been in our own state of transformation. Inspired and challenged by the transitions taking place nationwide, we leaned in to the questions about racism our playwrights were asking the field to examine. Even as an institution dedicated to furthering access and inclusion in the field, we too have much more work to do towards confronting white supremacy culture within our organization. As an institution dedicated to lifting the voices of those who have been historically misrepresented and under-resourced, we are committed to shifting our culture to one that not only advocates for equity, but that fosters anti-racism specifically.
We have been doing and will continue this work in the following ways:
- Our board has prioritized recruiting trustees from a range of backgrounds that reflect and understand the communities we serve.
- We will continue to refine our current practices to ensure that our artist selection processes and staff searches are equitable.
- We will deepen our portfolio of fellowships designed to provide artistic and financial support for playwrights from culturally specific communities, like our Van Lier New Voices Fellowship for playwrights of color under 30, which now includes an expanded stipend, and our Apothetae and Lark Playwriting Fellowship for Deaf/Disabled playwrights.
- To further our anti-racism awareness and analysis at the staff level, we are expanding our commitment to ongoing anti-racism training through weekly learning sessions and skills-building workshops. We have continued to share resources with one another, including the We See You WAT statement, José Solis’s essay “Always the Quota, Never the Norm”, and this conversation on the state of Black theater, just to name a few.
- Our board is also reaching out to knowledgeable advisors for anti-racism education and to help our Equity, Access, and Inclusion Committee, made up of staff, artists, and board members, devise an anti-racism policy for the organization.
- We remain committed to our Community Guidelines, created to foster a healthy and inclusive organizational environment.
- We are making way for new leadership at The Lark with the appointment of Stacy Waring as Executive Director, and our founding Artistic Director, John Clinton Eisner, is working collaboratively with our board, staff, and artists to identify a new artistic director who can deepen our values for a new generation.
This month marks the official opening of The Lark’s 26th season - a time for looking forward. But, to be clear, looking forward does not mean moving on. We recognize that anti-racism and equity work is a movement, not a moment, and we will center these values in our work on an ongoing basis. We recognize that the actions listed above are just a part of the process.
We hope everyone is finding the space to take care of yourselves. Sending love and support to you all.