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In 2020, Meany Center for the Performing Arts pledged to “stand in solidarity with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) staff, artists, students, colleagues and community members in the fight for justice by dismantling the endemic structural racism that underlies social, economic and educational inequity. Over the last three years we have expanded and increased the scope of our work to include Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEIA) more broadly.

As a highly visible, white-led arts organization with considerable access and infrastructure, we recognize our responsibility to engage in this struggle, utilizing and strategically prioritizing our resources to address systemic inequity within our own organization and the wider ecosystem in which we operate.

Our process has been challenging, messy and often painful as we have worked to understand the truth of our own internal, historical barriers to equity, both as individuals and as an organization. To anyone who hasn’t felt heard or has experienced harm during this process, we sincerely apologize. We do not know all the ways this harm may have reverberated within Meany and externally in the community and it is our intention to do the work of repair.

Our process continues to be led by DEIA staff and board committees, including a DEIA planning committee that meets bi-weekly and includes senior leadership and two staff liaisons who ensure that perspectives, decisions and actions are clearly communicated between leadership and staff. Meany also has three DEIA staff subcommittees (Internal Structures; Staffing and Resources; Relationships and Creative Center) which meet bi-weekly, an underrepresented staff DEIA Open Hour that meets monthly, and two DEIA staff liaisons from underrepresented groups. All staff are paid for their work in these roles. Additionally, Meany’s Advisory Board has a six-person DEIA task force that meets monthly and organizes learning opportunities for the entire board. 

Below are a few examples of the many actions we’ve taken in the following four areas which come from Meany’s initial Commitment to Racial Equity: 

1. Understand the truth of our own internal, historical barriers to equity:

  • Equity-focused professional development for senior leadership. 
  • Regular staff and board training, both self-guided and facilitated by experienced consultants, with staff paid for their time. 
  • Completed Sozo Creative’s year-long systemic allyship training, Healing Forward, designed to “bolster organizations in their journey towards becoming institutionally anti-racist.” 
  • Prioritizing diversity, reducing bias and improving our equity lens in recruiting and hiring new employees by reviewing job descriptions to accurately reflect duties and remove barriers from qualifications, adding a DEIA commitment statement, outreach for a more diverse pool of candidates, building cross-departmental hiring teams, and more equitable evaluation of candidates.
  • Equity-focused communications audit that led to new communications guidelines regarding unconscious biases in our language, the stories we tell and the images we choose.

2. Listen and hold ourselves accountable to historically underrepresented voices (BIPOC/People of the Global Majority, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and other minoritized individuals and communities):   

  • Monthly Open Hour for Underrepresented Staff, facilitated by Staff DEIA liaison, to hold space, build community and create a clear channel of communication between underrepresented staff and senior leadership.  
  • New Engagement Manager position focused on building long-term, mutually supportive relationships with campus and community partners including the UW Resilience Lab, Daybreak Star and New York Live Arts, among others. 
  • A new Artistic Associate initiative that invites prominent guest artists to add their voices to Meany programming: 2022-23 Artistic Partner, choreographer Bill T. Jones, focused on social justice; artist and activist Marc Bamuthi Joseph is leading “From Artistic Joy to Collective Wellness,” a 2023-24 season-long initiative that addresses mental health in young people through the lens of the arts.

3. Redistribute resources, including money, time, power, attention and decision-making, to prioritize initiatives aimed at dismantling institutional racism and related systems of oppression:

  • Developed an organizational DEIA committee structure, composed of interrelated subcommittees and affinity groups, that allows for broad staff participation and for which staff members are paid. 
  • Adjusted rental policies to prioritize UW Student and Community rentals that support underrepresented groups or aesthetics. 
  • Analyzed compensation across positions in order to better understand and act on internal and industry equity. 
  • Committed to the Association of Performing Arts Professionals’ REDI 10/20/30 Pledge to grow racial equity, diversity and inclusion in the performing arts field over the next 10 years. 
  • Removed Advisory Board giving requirements to open up leadership opportunities to a more diverse range of individuals. 
  • Secured funding and placed a call for artwork to expand the current Northwest Art Collection in Meany’s lobby to reflect the rich contribution of Coast Salish design and culture to the arts of our Northwest coastal region. 

4. Be transparent in our decisions and actions as we make them:

  • Bi-weekly meeting of DEIA planning committee that includes senior leadership and two staff DEIA liaisons from historically underrepresented groups. 
  • Monthly DEIA updates at staff meetings to ensure decisions, actions and issues are presented and all are invited to share their questions, concerns and perspectives.
  • Participation in the Association of Performing Arts Professionals Arts Compensation Project, a field-wide survey of salaries and compensation, to establish greater pay transparency for arts workers.
  • All-staff series of presentations around wage transparency and staff literacy around organizational budgeting.
  • Meany’s Customer Care Commitment outlining access to accommodations, safety protocols, and refund policies for patrons prior to their purchase.

Meany aspires to be a learning organization where mistakes offer opportunities for learning, and equitable processes that prioritize listening and collaboration are fundamental to our success. We will continue to update this page periodically to reflect and share examples of our progress towards implementing our multi-year DEIA plan. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please contact us at