As calls to combat institutional racism in American theatre began to broil anew in the early summer of 2020, Williamstown Theatre Festival answered with a Commitment to Anti-Racism.
In February 2021, an eight-page letter from festival staffers and interns was sent to festival management, alleging an unsafe and toxic work environment, and was reported by the Los Angeles Times in September, 2021.
In November, 2021, Jenny Gersten replaced Mandy Greenfield as artistic director upon her resignation for an interim period to last through the 2022 season.
Now the Massachusetts theatre has issued “A Progress Report on Equity, Diversion, Inclusion, Accessibility, Anti-Racism, and Anti-Oppression at WTF,” outlining the actions taken and planned changes to achieve both a more equitable and safe working environment.
Some changes seen in the outline include:
A pledge to shorten the summer season, no longer mounting seven shows, thereby lessening the overall intensity of the season. The company will also provide employees with more time off and hour-caps.
The hiring of an outside HR company and the creation of a year-round senior staff position to serve as steward for the people and culture at the Festival.
Ongoing anti-racist training for existing, new, and seasonal staff, including managers.
Steps taken to build a more diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist Board of Trustees, including seeking consulting firms to expand access and identify BIPOC candidates and ongoing EDIA training for current and future trustees.
Allocated resources to to support the development of Black audiences from the Berkshire region.
The suspension of the Apprentice Program and Internship Program, which previously charged participants for tuition, room, and board.
These are just a sample of the actions from the progress report. To read the full plan, click here.