To our RAWdance family:
Our country and community is outraged and grieving. We share that anger and sense of mourning. We stand in solidarity with the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement. We stand in solidarity with the activists who have fought and who continue to fight the inequities woven into the fabric of our culture. We acknowledge and condemn the systemic racism that has built this country.
We are grateful to the social justice organizations, arts institutions, and individuals who have been guiding our communities to resources for education and places to give financial support. As a predominantly white staff, we understand our vital responsibility to learn, take action, and re-open discussions about what a true commitment to anti-racism and ally-ship looks like. This is continuous, challenging work, which we will undertake together.
Today, we are committing to four actions that we can implement immediately. We are sharing them publicly in the spirit of transparency and accountability as we continue to educate ourselves, re-evaluate priorities, and listen and respond to the communities where we live and make work.
1. RAWdance employees (staff and dancers) are in the process of selecting a text* to read as a group in a shared effort to expand our individual knowledge and understanding. The company will cover the cost for all copies of the book and all individuals will be fully compensated for their time spent reading. Collaboration is central to our work, and we hope to empower everyone’s voices by facilitating a space for open discussion about the text, with a focus on race, equity, and justice both in the studio, on stage, and behind the scenes.
**UPDATE: The staff and dancers are currently reading Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist. Our board will soon begin to read the book through a parallel process. We are collectively in discussion on next steps in using the book as a launching point to deepen conversation around the company’s role and responsibility within the broader ecosystem.
2. We are formalizing and broadening the role of Megan Kurashige, a Bay Area dance artist and our CONCEPT series Coordinator since 2017, as an equal fourth voice on our CONCEPT series curatorial team. Her pay will increase to reflect this added responsibility. This is a first step in an ongoing and more robust investigation of equity in our broader curatorial practice.
3. We commit to centering equitable policies as we more closely examine our artistic and administrative practices and future plans. As part of the organizational strategic planning process we began this month, equity, diversity, and inclusion will be integral to the blueprint the company will be following in the coming years. Our strategic planning process will also include dialogue with individuals outside of our organization looking at ways to create more active partnership with our community.
4. RAWdance’s Co-Artistic Directors and Program Manager are donating to the following organizations: Movement for Black Lives, Black Voters Matter, Black Visions Collective, and Black Earth Farms. As artists and arts administrators, we know that financial support is an essential reality to implementing change and will give as generously as possible.
These actions are in no way sufficient or finite. They are steps we will take today as we continue on our path to a deeper, ongoing examination of how our programming, curation, administration, and artistic work can better support our fellow artists and our broader community. We strive to listen more deeply. And we invite thoughts on resources and further steps we can take as we commit to this work for the long term.
Wendy, Ryan, Katie, and Aiyana, Co-Artistic Directors and Program Manager
*The selection of books we chose from included:
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo; How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi; Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi; An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz; What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Damon Young; Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates