To our dear Volunteers and Patrons:
We would like to kick off the new season with an update on the state of affairs at the Acrosstown. Our 2017-2018 season was enormously successful – we were so pleased to be able to host the debut of several first time directors, two world premieres of brand new plays, a first-time production partnership between the Acrosstown and UF Arts in Medicine, and yet another outstanding Summer Shakespeare initiative. It was a strong season, and our patrons noticed. The Acrosstown is quickly growing its footprint, and we are very excited to see what the next year will bring.
As a non-profit 501(c)(3), the board of directors at the Acrosstown is made up entirely of volunteers; we are excited to be kicking off the season with a total of four new* board members and an updated executive board:
- President: Carolyne Salt
- Vice President: Jennifer Hutton*
- Treasurer: Laura Jackson
- Secretary: Emma Dieterle*
- Jay Koester*
- Thomas Puketza*
The recent successes of the Acrosstown have also come with some growing pains. While we recognize that our history of opening up our theatre to all volunteers has created some amazing art, we also recognize that our lax policies and lack of oversight and accountability have created some opportunities for misconduct and malfeasance. We recognize that past incidents and alleged incidents involving volunteers and board members at the Acrosstown were mishandled – there was no malicious intent, but we understand that some of the choices made were not in the best interest of preserving the Acrosstown as a safe and welcoming organization. We would like to take this time to apologize to anyone who was hurt or made to feel unsafe by those choices.
We cannot change the events of the past, but we can use our experiences, and feedback from the community, to put additional structure and policies in place to ensure the best experience for all of our volunteers. We can do better to communicate our expectations and standards to our volunteers, and provide more oversight to ensure our standards are being observed. We can hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard of behavior. We can continue to learn and improve based on the feedback we receive from our volunteers and patrons. We can do our best to provide the community with a safe place to create unsafe theatre.
In this spirit, the measures we have already put into place are described below, as well as additional items that are forthcoming but not yet fully-adopted policy (all links open in a new tab).
- We have adopted a formal Code of Conduct and Ethics, by which we expect all of our volunteers to abide.
- We have adopted a formal Harassment Policy, covering both sexual and non-sexual harassment.
- Our Code of Conduct and Harassment Policy will be communicated to all cast and crew members as official policy. Our directors, stage managers, and board members are expected to maintain a working environment in which it is made clear that violations of the Acrosstown policies will not be tolerated.
- Detailed grievance procedures will also be shared with cast and crew members, along with several points of contact they may use for filing complaints or concerns. Grievance procedures are available not only to victims but to anybody who witnesses inappropriate behavior. Reported grievances will be responded to with haste, and confidentiality will be maintained throughout the ensuing investigation.
- Our Code of Conduct and Harassment Policy have been shared with the leadership of all local, volunteer-based theatre organizations, should they wish to utilize our policies.
- We have created a Board Liaison program in which two board members are assigned to oversee the production of each show in the season. This program is bound by rules by which both directors and liaisons must abide, and is intended to ensure a smooth production process as well to provide more regulated oversight for the safety of our volunteers. Volunteers may utilize their show liaisons as one method by which to convey grievances or complaints without the knowledge of their director or stage manager.
- We have written an almost 20-page director’s handbook covering everything our directors need to know to have a successful and safe run, covering everything from auditions to strike. A stage manager’s handbook is forthcoming.
- The individuals accused of sexual harassment are no longer involved at the Acrosstown.
- We are currently constructing formal paths to membership and board membership, and we are drafting guidelines for the suspension or removal of volunteers, members, and board members, should any misconduct or violations of our policies occur.
The policies are not intended to be a hindrance to the creative process, but rather we hope they will provide our volunteers with stability during their time at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre. We remain a flexible organization bound to the needs and desires of our volunteers, and our policies living documents that are equally flexible and subject to change as new concerns or situations arise.
As we enforce our policies, gather feedback, and focus on the continuing education of our leadership, we will make updates to our practices as necessary. If you have any experiences, feedback, or suggestions you’d like to share with us, please write to us at feedback AT acrosstown DOT org, or use the feedback form, below.
The Acrosstown is a living and breathing organization, and we pride ourselves on being welcoming and inclusive. Each new volunteer and patron that steps through our doors becomes part of the Acrosstown and has the ability to affect the direction of the organization as a whole. The Acrosstown in 2018 is a very different organization than it was in 1980, the year it was founded. We hope it continues to grow and adapt to our changing world. We hope it continues to be a space of creation and purpose for so many in our community. We hope that you join us and lend your voice to ours.
The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre Board of Directors