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Department DeI Statement

GUIDING PRINCIPLES with Goals and Actions for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)


Statement of Purpose: This is a document of change. We acknowledge past behaviors and attitudes that supported and contributed to structures of inequity--in academic and professional theatre--and perpetuated patterns that failed the needs and experiences of our underrepresented students. Though we have valued building a safe learning environment for all of our students, this document holds us accountable for making significant changes. It stands as a living record acknowledging the changes we seek to accomplish. We commit to continually refining this document, our DEI statement, in relationship to the national conversation and our own internal discussions and hold ourselves to the highest standard. We advocate for wider, systematic change within our department, within the university, and in the community at large.

1. Increase diversity in the department community, including students, faculty, staff, and guest artists.

• Prioritize diverse representation of students and faculty leadership in department committees.• Hire faculty members with experience in representing underrepresented populations such as Black/Latinx/Queer/Indigenous in theatre tradition in both the performance and production tracks.
• Prioritize hiring and engaging with guest artists of color.
• Encourage playwrights of color to apply for the annual Kernodle Playwriting Competition.
• Implement a strategic plan for the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty/staff and undergrad/graduate students.

Evaluative measure: DEI committee and department chair will meet to monitor and evaluate status of Goal #1

2. Establish diverse, equitable practices in our production operations. (season selection, committee memberships, playwrights, casting, production assignments, etc.).

• Hold space for and support a department student organization for diverse students to create programming and productions.
• Ensure that our departmental commitment to DEI is a leading principle in all aspects of department operations.
• Produce a mainstage season that equitably funds and supports a wide range of diverse performance work.

Evaluative measure: DEI committee will work with season selection committee, technical director, and directors to ensure roles and positions meet department’s DEI goals. Meeting will implement a season selection study gathering information concerning audience, playwright, and casting demographics.

3. Create and support diversity in the classroom. (curriculum choices and pedagogical approaches (non-western), access to more resources) (town hall) (or #5)

• Complete a comprehensive study of current casting, hiring, and recruitment policies.
• Expand and promote core course offerings that include diverse methods, artistic practices, and theatre histories
• Maintain ongoing engagement with and evaluation of the department’s curricular and operational commitments to DEI.

Evaluative measure: DEI committee will meet with curriculum committee to discuss progress of implementing teaching strategies supportive of diversity in the classroom. Measures may include syllabi structure and content and DEI elements of student evaluations.

4. Allocate resources for DEI inclusion in all aspects of UA operations and experience.

• Develop and distribute department DEI resources. Implement DEI faculty training provided by UA’s Diversity Office.
• Advocate for gender-neutral bathrooms in performance, rehearsal, and classroom spaces.
• Produce a mainstage season that equitably funds and supports a wide range of diverse performance work.

Maintain ongoing evaluation of the department’s curricular and operational commitments to DEI.
Evaluative measure: Head of DEI committee will meet with department chair to allocate DEI funding for each fiscal year and study comparative DEI expenditures from prior years.

5. Build relationships with local, regional, and national organizations to provide creative opportunities for our community.

• Develop partnerships with other campus departments.
• Develop partnerships with community arts organizations based in NW Arkansas.
• Support faculty and student outreach to underrepresented racial, gender, economic, and orientation student populations.
• Develop an annual theatre or humanities event that encourages interdisciplinary and community collaboration.

Evaluative measure: DEI committee will meet with department heads and chair to discuss progress of establishing partnerships. Annual evaluations will review faculty efforts to implement DEI elements in establishing partnerships (in addition to seeking out guest artists, introducing new course content, teaching strategies, etc.)

From more comprehensive statement of department’s DEI initiative, please refer to the department diversity plan.