Leadership and Policy Changes at AOTC
Since our initial statement expressing support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have remained largely silent. During this time we have been reflecting on An Other Theater Company as an organization and community and taking note of the areas we must make improvements in order to truly move towards fulfilling our mission of inclusivity.
Though much of the state is currently working towards a full reopening of all economic, social, and artistic activity, we must recognize that because COVID-19 affects BIPOC individuals at a much higher rate than white individuals, this pandemic is not only a health issue, it's a racial issue. BIPOC individuals are statistically less likely to have affordable access to healthcare or the luxury of social distancing due to their current employment. Because of this, An Other Theater Company has no plans to reopen until we can be certain that all members of the community, not only those in positions of privilege, can enter our doors without endangering the lives of themselves or those they love. We have no specific timeline on this, but currently suspect it will last through the year.
We look forward to continuing the conversation of racial justice and how we intend to do our part in our community theater here in Provo.
Though we have always strived towards inclusivity regarding women's issues, sexual identity, and gender expression, these experiences are not and never have been exclusive to white, non-disabled, hearing, neurotypical individuals. BIPOC, disabled, deaf, and neurodivergent people have long been excluded from the theatrical narrative and we must recognize that our feminism and queer-positivity is hollow unless it is intersectional.
Today we are announcing the artistic and administrative changes we are making.
Firstly, it is with great excitement that we are announcing that Shelby Noelle Gist will be stepping into the role of Co-Artistic Director of An Other Theater Company!
Shelby Noelle Gist is a proud Black graduate of Utah Valley University’s theater program and was awarded “Outstanding Student” of the graduating class of 2019. She has directed many productions in Utah and upstate New York, produced shows with UVU's theater club TAG, and consulted with multiple high schools and other productions. Along with her talent in directing, she has also led different Race and Diversity trainings, was Vice President of UVU's Black Student Union, and was a cofounder of ‘PROJECT BLACK GIRL’. She is incredibly excited to join this company and to roll up her sleeves and do the work.
Shelby is a passionate, brilliant, and talented artist and leader and we couldn't be prouder or more excited to welcome her into her leadership role at AOTC. We are certain that with her leadership, our company will be on a positive path towards more fully achieving its mission.
Kacey Spadafora, who has held the position since the company first opened three years ago, will be stepping down from this role. Taylor Jack Nelson will be remaining as Co-Artistic Director with Shelby and together they will be guiding the company forward towards its artistic goals. Artistic Directors are responsible for season selection, hiring directors and designers for productions, guiding the company's community outreach and messaging, and much more.
Kacey will be remaining in his role of Co-Executive Director along with Taylor where the two of them will continue to oversee the day-to-day administrative operations of the theater.
Along with this leadership change we are also incorporating the following policies:
In addition to our current mandates involving LGBTQ representation and works by and about women, season selection guidelines will now include a requirement to have at minimum one show per season written by a person of color.
The Artistic and Executive Directors will work together to develop and incorporate a diversity outreach policy for the company to ensure BIPOC, disabled, deaf, and neurodivergent artists are given opportunities beyond what is strictly required by the scripts chosen for the season.
AOTC's company members will undergo an annual race and diversity sensitivity training led by an outside expert in the field.
Unless explicitly necessary for the plot of a script, all roles will be proactively open to actors of any race or ethnicity.
Only actors of color will be cast in roles written for or have a legacy of being played by actors of color.
Race and diversity sensitivity guidelines will be incorporated into the onboarding of all members of every production.
An Other Theater Company will add at least one person of color to its board of directors which oversees AOTC's actions as a non-profit organization.
These are all first steps. They are not comprehensive solutions. We will strive to continue to improve through constant and consistent work.
- An Other Theater Company