JACQUELINE LAWTON: What excited you about attending TCG's 2012 Fall Forum?
KATIE CHRISTIE: I think a was most excited to see the conversation get to that for front of the conversation. 5 years ago....no one was talking about diversity and inclusion but a small group of YLC's in rooms no one knew about. Emilya asked us in our wrap up what we would like to see happen. One of the things we said was lets have this conversation with the leadership and now we have. It took a little while but it is very clear that TCG is listening to us! I'm excited to see the movement.
JL: What were some of the common themes and challenges being addressed?
KC: What stands out in my mind is addressing the issues of Power and Access....that came up often. Also, the mixed race conversation has finally been added to the conversation. That one was important to me...I was feeling surprised that it was not part of the conversation in LA and in Boston it really stuck out to me but I didn't have the courage to raise it...I wasn't sure that it would resinate with others. In NY I brought it up day one and it continued to stay a part of the conversation.
JL: What surprised you the most about your experience?
KC: So many things....I was surprised and the resistance and at the willingness to learn and change. I was surprised to see how many people were uncomfortable doing a little physical warm up with Libby....by day 2 when they heard she was come about half of the people left the room...interesting. I was not surprised but am always in awe of how many wonderful people I get to spend time with when I'm the this group.
JL: When considering Models for Diversity, what does it mean to have a commitment to diversity?
KC: To me it means to continue to broaden my approach to diversity and inclusion. It has always been the core part of our mission but we can continue to expand.
JL: Where do you see Models for Diversity working in the theatre community, whether locally, regionally or nationally? What can we learn from their efforts?
KC: Oregon Shakespeare Festival is doing an amazing job but I think everyone knows about that. I see also that the smaller theaters seem to have an easier time addressing these issues. It also seems that these organization have strong education/outreach programs in place.
JL: What efforts have you made, or been involved with, to foster diversity competence and understanding in your community? How were these efforts met? Do you see a change?
KC: Our whole organization is designed to promote cross cultural understand through the arts so all of our work in our community has this theme. We accomplished this simply because that was my goal when I started the organization, it's our mission, and all of our programs have always reflected that...I didn't realize it was such a problem until I came to meet with the YLC's. Everything is always changing for us because we work with youth and they are very quickly changing and adapting to a new world that is less familiar and comfortable to us older folks. Working with youth has me continuously looking at how I can better serve and enrich the lives of our youth in a way that resonates with them.
JL: Coming out of the TCG's 2012 Fall Forum, what goals have you set for yourself to Model the Movement?
KC: My first goal is to try to organize local theaters and share TCG's Diversity and Inclusion message because no one from my community is ever at these meetings. I will also work on bringing more people from my community to the table in Dallas. My second goal is to re-evaluate our strategies and see where we can broaden our approach. My third goal is to try to stay more engaged in the conversation between now and June.
Thanks for doing this...it's been helpful for me and I hope it is helpful to you and JJ as you work with TCG on putting info together. I think it is really important for people to note how good of a job they are doing at keeping this conversation moving....I'm not sure that everyone is able to see that depending on how long they've been involved. Almost like it would be a nice example to see what it was the TCG staff took away from our meetings each year and what action they took as well as what result it produced. I have never experienced such a receptive organization.
TCG has invited those who attended the 2012 Fall Forum on Governance: Leading the Charge and those, like me, who wish they could have attended, to keep the conversation on diversity and inclusion going. They have created a public group on 2.0 called, Leading the Charge: Advancing Diversity and Inclusion. Here, you can take part in the conversation. They've even uploaded the brilliant and useful documents and resources made available at the Fall Forum, and you can even upload your own.
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I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!