From our founding in 1967, Magic Theatre has operated within a structure of systemic racism and culture of white supremacy and privilege that impacts our entire society. We have benefitted from this structure and been complicit in its perpetuation in spite of our dedication to promoting the work of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) artists. In the last five years, Magic has produced a majority of work by BIPOC playwrights (65%), yet it is not until recently that we have prioritized anti-racism and anti-bias work within our organization. We recognize that we have made mistakes and regret the exclusion and pain that these actions have caused. Magic commits to becoming an anti-racist organization and to transparency in our actions and plans along the journey.
In response to the We See You, White American Theatre and The Living Document demands, we have developed a plan of action designed to establish and maintain equity in our company. We are grateful for the care and labor these documents represent. Some of these changes have been implemented. Others will take time to be mindfully implemented. Our plan, as it currently exists, is detailed below.
Our Recent Actions
1. Land Acknowledgement: At the first rehearsal of every workshop and production, at every board meeting, and before every performance, the indigenous lands upon which we gather as well as the indigenous peoples who have lived or currently live there will be named and acknowledged. Magic Theatre sits on the unceded land of the Ramaytush (Rah-my-toosh) Ohlone (Oh-loh-nee) peoples. Magic acknowledges the Ramaytush Ohlone community, their elders both past and present as well as future generations. We affirm their continuing presence in their homelands.
2. Nurturing Work Environments for BIPOC Artists:
a. As our artistic team members are hired (Actors, Designers, Intimacy Directors, Choreographers, Musical Directors, Fight. Choreographers, and their assistants), we now ensure that all BIPOC artists are aware of who will be in the room with them to prevent a situation where a harmful collaborator could make working conditions feel unsafe.
b. We commit to scheduling ample time for our BIPOC designers to walk through our spatial configurations and inventory as they are hired.
c. We have created an anti-racism work group that convenes weekly, made up of staff and board members. One of the goals of this group is to create a culture of inclusion that sets up future BIPOC staff members and artists for success prior to their hiring.
d. We have created an Anti-Racist Book Club for staff and board members to help ensure personal learning and growth, leading to institutional growth.
e. Our production job postings and descriptions now contain language that is free of biases including education requirements and “years of experience.”
3. Investing in multiplicity of cultures in our Literary Department and Literary practices and implementing equitable season planning, curation, and programming:
a. We have created a coalition of BIPOC artists to select the plays for our upcoming Virgin Play Festival, and commit to continuing this practice for future festivals.
b. We are currently recruiting BIPOC artists to join our regular Literary Committee.
4. Investing in local BIPOC vocational populations:
a. Magic has a long-standing relationship with the theatre students of Laney College. We have re-committed ourselves to deepening and strengthening this relationship.
b. Magic has developed a program dedicated to creating artistic opportunities in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The Making Magic: Arts and Community program sends teaching artists into the Tenderloin to teach and develop theatrical and writing skills for many different age groups. This is a fledgling program in its fourth year, but we plan to continue to expand it, deepening our relationships with the Tenderloin community.
5. Creating equitable access for BIPOC audience members:
a. We have developed reduced-price ticketing options, and other dynamic pricing opportunities. We are dedicated to making sure that anyone who wants to see our productions is able to attend.
b. We make a concerted effort to reach out to BIPOC communities with information on our dynamic pricing to promote a more diverse audience. We will continue and redouble these efforts.
6. Transparency in hiring practices:
a. Our current job postings include clear salary recommendations and are free of education requirements and years of experience.
b. Our incoming executive leaders, once hired, will be offered a salary equitable to that of their predecessor.
c. Magic is committed to maintaining a diverse pool of BIPOC applicants in our ongoing search for a new Artistic Director.
d. Magic currently fosters relationships with many BIPOC designers and artists and will seek to expand our pool. Recognizing that we specifically lack partnerships with Black and Indigenous artists, we are committed to actively recruiting artists from these communities.
7. Ensuring equity and anti-racist practices on our board of directors:
a. We have eliminated minimum financial gifts for our board members.
b. We are committed to recruiting and including interested BIPOC board members and artists on our board.
Actions to be Implemented by End of Calendar Year
1. Creating a welcoming and accountably anti-racist environment for BIPOC producers, staff members, board members, leaders, and artists:
a. By December 2020, we will implement anti-bias and anti-racism training for our entire board of directors as well as our staff.
b,. We will implement bystander intervention training for staff.
2. Pursuing accountability of anti-racist practices:
a. By the end of 2020, to prepare for our productions in 2021, we will write an anti-racist statement to be read at all first rehearsals and board meetings to continue to hold ourselves accountable.
b. A preliminary anti-racist statement will be read before our Virgin Play Festival Workshops this winter.
3. Transparency and equity regarding our Board of Directors:
a. By the end of the calendar year, we will post a list of our board members’ affiliations with corporations and other non-profit organizations.
b. Our board will expand to include more BIPOC members and artists.
c. We will de-prioritize monetary factors in board membership, instead prioritizing the voices, skills, and lived experiences of board members.
4. Transparency in distribution of funds:
a. We will publish an organizational budget on our website, indicating the ways our production funds are allocated.
b. We will publish our annual fiscal reports dating from 2017 to present. This report will be updated and published annually.
Actions to be Implemented by our First Production (Spring, 2021)
1. Creating a welcoming and anti-racist environment for BIPOC producers, staff members, board members, leaders, and artists: Starting with our first production of the season, we are requiring our creative teams to participate in an Anti-Racism workshop at the start of every rehearsal/tech process and ensuring their accountability with signed statements.
2. Providing equitable acknowledgement and recognition of BIPOC artists:
a. We will recognize and credit BIPOC artists who have connected us with audiences with whom they have a closer relationship both in our lobby display and in our programs.
b. We will properly credit BIPOC marketing and PR team members and theatre-makers in all marketing materials.
3. Creating a safe and nurturing environment for BIPOC audience members:
a. We will post a statement of inclusion in our lobby display and programs encouraging our audience members to respond to the performance in whatever way feels right to them, eliminating the policing of audience responses.
b. We will create mandatory anti-racist training for front of house, box office, and ushers who are not already receiving such training as staff members.
4. Nurturing Work Environments for BIPOC Artists:
a. For our first production of the season and onward, we will be eliminating 10 out of 12 tech rehearsals in favor of 8 out of 10s.
b. When hiring our production staff, we will actively recruit BIPOC production team members.
c. We will issue our preliminary code of conduct, a document that will undergo further development throughout the remainder of the season, to all of our guest artists. This code will stipulate our no-tolerance policy on harassment of any kind.
d. We will prioritize the hiring of workers who have already undergone EDI, Anti-Racism, and BIPOC training.
e. We will implement a post-mortem conversation with every creative team at the end of each production in order to better hold ourselves and our team members accountable.
f. We will create anonymous surveys to be sent to all artists following the end of a production so that they may honestly share their thoughts and experiences with us, promoting our accountability and growth.
g. We will have BIPOC moderators for talkbacks of racially specific shows.
5. Compensation for Artists: Beginning with our next production, we will compensate our artists for talkbacks, appearances at donor events, and any obligations not outlined in their contracts.
6. Promoting a majority of work produced by BIPOC writers, directors, and designers:
a. Our first show of the season is written by a BIPOC writer, and we will have a BIPOC dramaturg present throughout the process.
b, Last season, prior to the Covid-19 shutdown, our season was 100% composed of writers and directors of color, with 40% BIPOC designers and dramaturgs. We acknowledge that we can and will do a better job of cultivating a community of BIPOC designers and dramaturgs.
c. We have committed to offering 60% of directing jobs to BIPOC, queer, trans, womxn of color, non-binary and/or disabled artists.
7. Equity/Transparency in Casting Practices:
a. We have a BIPOC Casting Director.
b. We reach out to specific BIPOC communities of artists for general auditions, show-specific auditions, and workshops, but we acknowledge that we can do a better and more systematically thorough job of this in the future. We are dedicated to being transparent in our casting communication with all actors.
8. Post-Performance Resources:
a. Our programs contain an extensive dramaturgy section, including relevant historical and cultural information for the play.
b. Beginning with our first production in the spring, we will also include resources to help audiences members take positive action toward causes related to the plays.
i. Places for them to find further data/resources specific to the themes of the play
ii. Places for them to donate their time and/or funds specific to the themes of the play -- engaging them as global citizens
iii. Additionally, we will collect donations for these thematically relevant organizations.
Actions to be Implemented by Next Season (2021-2022)
1. Anti-racist Restructuring of Power:
a. We are committed to ending our practice of unpaid summer internships and dedicated to fair compensation for future Magic apprentices.
b. We are actively brainstorming new mentorship opportunities such as:
i. Casting workshops for early-career performers
ii. Playwriting Workshops for college and graduate students interested in playwriting
iii. BIPOC Dramaturgy Circle and Seminar
2. Ensuring a safe working environment for BIPOC artists and staff members: We are currently creating a Code of Conduct, which will be finalized for our next season. This Code of Conduct will:
a. Create a no-tolerance policy for harassment, prejudice, and discrimination toward all artists in the space
b. Ensure the removal of any/all staff and board members who have displayed racist behavior in the past
3. Investing in marginalized communities:
a. We are engaging in an audit of the businesses we work with, examining their anti-racist practices and policies, and ending our relationship with them if they do not have anti-racist policies in place.
b. We are engaging in an audit of BIPOC-owned businesses in our neighborhood. We will work toward forming lasting relationships with more BIPOC-owned businesses in future seasons.
4. Land Acknowledgement:
a. We will consult with local Indigenous representatives to ensure that our Land Acknowledgement is more than performative. These representatives will be compensated for their time and expertise.
We note that this plan is by no means exhaustive. We are striving for growth and change, and will update our plan accordingly. Our list of goals for which we do not yet have a timeline is below.
1. Creating a safe space for BIPOC artists:
a. We would like to have a mental health professional as an available resource for projects dealing with race-related trauma.
2. Equity in Employment Opportunities: While we have some plans in place, we will be working each day toward creating and maintaining equitable hiring practices and building a staff that better represents our community and the artists we support.
3. Strategic Plan through the lens of anti-racism: Magic will undergo a strategic planning process following the hiring of our new Artistic Director that will reflect these and other long-term commitments.