Update - January, 2021

January 4, 2021

Dear Milwaukee Rep Community,

There is reason for rejoicing this month. Not only have we closed the books on 2020 – one of the most challenging years in our recent history – but there are also COVID-19 vaccines being disseminated around the nation and the world as we speak. And while progress has been made to combat our social pandemic of racial injustice, more work needs to be done.

Here at Milwaukee Rep, our important work continues.

While 2020 was life altering for so many, artists have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. Milwaukee Rep is doing our part to support our local community of artists. To assist freelance theatrical artists, the Milwaukee Rep Freelance Artist Relief Effort, supported by the Rep Rising Campaign, will provide a limited number of awards up to $1,000 each for artists who lost employment in 2020. Announcement of grantees and the distribution of checks will happen later this month.

Crucial Conversations Training
Internally, we continue our focus on the priority areas of workplace inclusion and cultural competence. In December, our leadership team and ED&I staff workgroup participated in a Crucial Conversations training with leadership coach, Alonzo Kelly, to strengthen our work in creating an environment that celebrates and promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion. These conversations can be difficult. They require courage to share our stories, a willingness to listen and learn, and humility to understand how we may have inadvertently contributed to systemic inequity in our society. These conversations may be challenging, but they are vital to ensure we are on the same page and have similar objectives for making our organization and community a more equitable place.

And while these conversations at the leadership level are integral, we acknowledge the important work at Milwaukee Rep being facilitated by our incredible staff. A work group comprised of staff from across the organization has been meeting and planning for activities that will move us forward over the coming year.

At the end of January, we will launch our internal ED&I staff campaign event to mobilize full staff involvement and commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. This virtual experience will include an unveiling of first quarter activities, pledge cards, and a discussion of the ED&I strategic plan being delivered by the Kaleidoscope Group. After months of engagement, planning and listening, this plan will provide a roadmap and will detail our clear organizational objectives and measurements to strengthen our work.

Summit at Ten Chimneys
In December, Executive Director Chad Bauman participated in a three-day ED&I Summit hosted by Ten Chimneys with theater leaders from around the country and Black Theatre United. The work product from the Summit is still in process, but specific recommendations discussed have been shared with the leadership team to inform our work as we finalize a strategic action plan with the Kaleidoscope Group. Artistic Director Mark Clements participated in a previous Summit hosted in August, but was unable to attend this one given his commitments directing Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol

REPair Divides
Our 2020/21 Season would have marked our sixth annual “ACT II” programing facilitated by our partners at the Zeidler Group. During these challenging times Milwaukee Rep wanted to continue to be a gathering place for meaningful dialogue.  Our Education and Engagement team worked with the Zeidler Group to develop REPair Divides a free monthly Zoom dialogue series, featuring a short virtual performance to spark a facilitated discussion via breakout rooms.  The series kicked off in July with a discussion on Milwaukee’s lead crisis. The monthly series continued with themes including civic engagement, talking to children about race, formerly incarcerated individuals re-entry into society, generational divides and creating home. Each month also featured local experts and partner organizations as guests. The monthly series will continue through the winter with the next event on January 21. You can RSVP to attend at athome@milwaukeerep.com.

It is our sincere hope 2021 will be the best year yet for Milwaukee Rep. We look forward to opening our doors again in the coming year for programming that continues to better reflect the diverse community we call home.

As ever, we appreciate your support, and Happy New Year!

Greg Oberland
President, Board of Trustees

Warren Buliox
Trustee & Chair, ED&I Committee

Mark Clements
Artistic Director

Chad Bauman
Executive Director

Tammy Belton-Davis
Chief Diversity Officer