Update - November, 2021
November 23, 2021
Dear Milwaukee Rep Community,
We hope this festive season finds you spending time with beloved family and friends and ending the year with gratitude, peace, love, remembrance, and merriment.
Well over a year ago we committed to transparency about our equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) journey and we moved to quarterly updates on our work together. Since our last communication this summer, we have implemented and grown our REP Forward plan and are pleased to share this update with you.
REP Forward Update
As the year comes to a close, it is natural to take stock of what has been achieved in 2021 and to look ahead to what is planned for 2022. We have advanced on our journey to become a more equitable and inclusive organization for our staff, our leaders, our audiences, and the larger community we serve. Of course, there is much left to do, but we remain committed to achieving our goals in our three focus areas:
- Workforce: Ensure diverse representation throughout the organization;
- Workplace: Build a culturally competent organization that embraces and celebrates differences; and
- Community: Continue building stronger relationships with marginalized communities and partners.
The REP Forward work is not only a strategic priority for Milwaukee Rep but wholly integrated into our mission and commitment as a theater company. Every strategic area has made progress on strategic priority areas including addressing and reevaluating our hiring and recruitment practices, expanding our reach with new hires, and doing more to encourage applicants from underrepresented groups. We believe these measures, in consultation with advisors and the sharing of best practices, will result in a more thoughtful hiring process.
To address our workplace goals, we have implemented the work of this year’s training and educational sessions in to how we are engaging in crucial conversations, community agreements and building a strong workplace culture where safety and belonging exist.
Our Community Council, comprised of community leaders from communities of color, is supporting and influencing the way we are deepening our community engagement efforts to bridge the work of the art and community together.
REP Forward, our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) Plan, is our road map for this foundational and critical work. Milwaukee Rep is building a brand story that reflects our commitment to ED&I and shows our aspirations to be an anchor institution. The most inspiring aspect of this work has been the tremendous leadership shown by our staff in moving Milwaukee Rep forward.
CUE Leads the Way
A work group comprised of staff from cross the company called Champions Uniting Experiences (CUE) has been leading and implementing our REP Forward work. CUE meets monthly and has created multiple subcommittees to deepen the work and achieve more tangible results. For example, CUE has prioritized cultural and identity celebrations to align to our 2021/2022 Season. Some of these celebrations included a recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month with an art gallery tour and conversation in partnership with the United Community Center/Latino Arts in October, a media club facilitated discussion about Disclosure, a Netflix documentary focusing on Hollywood’s impact on the transgender community in September, and recognition, training, and resource sharing for Native American Heritage month in November.
Affinity Spaces and Community Agreements
Milwaukee Rep is also creating sessions to build affinity spaces that will support understanding and learning. One culture or identity group gathers in one group, and members not of that culture or identity gather in a second group. The session ends with bringing both together to talk and learn together.
These affinity sessions and spaces may be timed with a corresponding affinity month, recognizing a cultural or identity group.
Within these affinity spaces, we share a set of community agreements to create a brave and trusting space and a framework we can use to work through conflict and minimize harm throughout the rehearsal and production season. And ensuring that challenging, crucial conversations are being moved from discussion to action.
Evaluating the Work
As important as executing the REP Forward plan is evaluating our progress and measuring against our vision of success. With input and guidance from staff and leaders from all departments based on thoughtful best practices and evidence-based strategies in the planning and implementation of REP Forward work.
Our evaluation efforts include post-surveys of trainings and workshops, anecdotal feedback, building empathy in our work, practicing crucial conversations, being deliberate with lifting our ED&I goals in all aspects of the organization, and committing to caring this journey forward unapologetically. Our success is realized with a workplace culture and community demonstrating an undeniable commitment to equity for all marginalized people.
Again, much work lies ahead of us. But in this season of gratitude and reflection, we are so excited about our progress and the way the Milwaukee Rep team has embraced this work and our efforts. We wish you and yours joy, peace, and prosperity.
Thank you for continuing to be a part of this journey. We appreciate your support of Milwaukee Rep.
President, Board of Trustees
Andrés E. González
Trustee & Chair, ED&I Committee
Chief Diversity Officer