Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at BATS
This page provides an update on BATS’ ongoing work to build and maintain an equitable, diverse and inclusive community and to become an anti-racist theater. We will provide updates here to keep our community informed about progress to date, priorities, and forthcoming plans.
Catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd, the moment of national reckoning with the ongoing and devastating impacts of systemic racism, and the light this has shone on institutional racism within the theater sector, BATS Improv has committed itself to internal examination and reinvention to succor the eradication of racism and white supremacy that is endemic within theater in America and its manifestation at BATS. Our work has been informed by ‘The Living Document of BIPOC Experiences in the Bay Area Theater Community,’ published on the 9th of June, and more specifically by the ‘BIPOC Equity Action Plan’ published in summer 2020.
We recognize and apologize unreservedly for allowing existing systems and biases within BATS that have contributed to upholding white supremacy within the organization to have gone unexamined and unchanged throughout our history. We apologize to our community members who raised such concerns and whose voices were ignored. We are sorry for the harm that our behaviors and practices have caused to our BIPOC community members.
Following the demands and advice set out in the ‘BIPOC Equity Action Plan’ we are committed to taking the steps necessary for positive change to ensure that BATS becomes a “diverse, equitable and inclusive improvised theater community that fully affirms and celebrates all artists, especially BIPOC artists.” We strive to create an anti-racist, healthy creative community that embeds spontaneous and creative risk taking within a safe and inclusive environment for improvisers, staff, coaches, students and audience members, as well as our leadership and board.
Progress to date
We decided to take a break from regular weekly performances by the main BATS company in August and September to create the space to start the process of building a stronger, more equitable, more inclusive BATS. We began by having conversations around how we do what we do as a performing company and undertook training to help us prepare to make changes.
We formed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion task force which consists of representatives of all parts of the organization and community. We started to meet weekly in late July and discussions to date have focused on defining what success would look like for us as a group and for BATS as an organization. This fed into a sense of priorities for the organization and has informed our Equity action plan. We expect to form a plan that has short, medium and long-term goals and actions that will take place over a period of three years and beyond. We recognize that this is complex and important work and that it requires a long-term commitment to truly embed anti-racism within the organization.
In undertaking this work we uphold the BIPOC coalition’s demands upon Bay Area Theaters to produce strategic actionable plans to confront white supremacy and our process in cultivating an equitable environment. .
We are starting to talk openly and in depth on current practices and behaviors that may be limiting or damaging. Our self-awareness as a performing company and organization is growing.
What came next
Following exploratory discussions with several expert trainers and facilitators to understand options and identify specialist support, throughout October we offered training for all company members, coaches, staff and board to build individual and collective understanding of unconscious bias, intersectionality, structural and systemic anti-black racism and how this impacts on an organizational level as well as giving us tools to be upstanding.
Our training will lay the ground for the real work to take place. Over the next 6 to 12 months we expect to undertake a number of actions with specialist support. We are currently exploring options including mechanisms for community feedback and input, healing processes, strategic planning and leadership coaching. We will select a variety of tools to inform our baseline, benchmarks, target outcomes and accountability measures. As part of this process we will be reviewing organizational systems and identifying what needs to be replaced, amended or developed to truly embed equity across and within BATS.
We have analyzed the BIPOC Equity Action Plan and this has informed the first version of our BATS Equity Action Plan. Please click on this link to read version 1 of our BATS Equity Action Plan dated October 2020.
(This document will be updated as we progress)
We are in the early stages of our EDI journey and look forward to sharing more and hearing your feedback as we progress. If you have any feedback on our process please email our EDI task force at email@example.com
EDI Taskforce members
Erica Anderson – EDI chair and guest artist
Angela Perez – EDI secretary and guest artist
Ethan Karson – company member and board member
Larry Dorsey Jr – company member and coach
Basel Al Naffouri – company member, board member and coach
Hannah Henderson – Managing Director
Sean Dunnington – Staff Member, Community Coordinator
Stephanie Allen – Staff Member, Head of BATS School of Improv
BATS Improv is in the process of creating a new Conflict Policy which will set out the process for how we will address complaints. Details will be available soon. For now, please see our Harrassment and Discrimination policy.