Celebrity Series’ Racial Equity Statement and Plan was developed over the course of over 750 person-hours during the 2020/21 season and an initial series of related action items were formally adopted by the Board of Directors on September 21, 2021. The process began with guided learning sessions for the full Celebrity Series staff followed by a phase of reflective and quantitative organizational assessment. A Racial Equity Task Force of 28 stakeholders—comprised of members of our Board of Directors, the newly named Board of Advisors, staff, and senior board/staff leadership—convened regularly to discuss and plan our path forward with this critical organizational undertaking.
Our goal from the beginning was to formulate a plan of action – concrete steps the organization will take, clear assignments of accountability, measurable indicators of progress, and a projected timeline for growth and adoption. Whenever possible, specific, measurable data will be used to track our progress, and key metrics are included in our data dashboard.
Racial Equity Statement
Celebrity Series of Boston recognizes that many existing systems of power grant privilege and access unequally, and that equity is crucial to the long-term viability of both the arts and culture sector and communities-at-large. Our Racial Equity Plan describes our commitment to ensure that everyone who wants has equal access to a full, vibrant creative life, which is essential to a healthy and democratic society.
As we begin the work of becoming a more inclusive organization that contributes to increased equity in Boston and in cultural and civic life, our desire for positive progress must be informed by our historical context. Despite Boston being the sixth most diverse U.S. city, we live with an ongoing myth that Boston is a white majority city. Our brutal history of segregation continues to exclude BIPOC individuals. We recognize that structural racism is entrenched in our community and in our cultural institutions, including our own predominantly white organization – and that we have benefitted from it. We wrongly operated from an assumption that everyone has access to the performing arts and feels like they belong when doing so. We acknowledge and understand that this is not the case for far too many individuals from marginalized communities.
As Boston evolves, so must the Celebrity Series of Boston. We began this long-overdue organizational journey during the summer of 2020. However, we consciously chose not to issue formal statements at the time. First, our staff and Board went through guided personal and foundational learning. We did this so that we could center racial equity in our organization with a sustainable plan that will ensure these are not empty statements.
We are intentionally shifting to a proactive, equity-centered approach to how we are structured, how we deliver our programs and services, how we engage with the broader community, and how we support our audiences. We seek to become an antiracist community, working against white supremacy, racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination based on gender, sexuality, class, age, and ability. We have chosen to address equity through an explicitly anti-racist lens. Although we are focusing on race explicitly, we are not focusing on it exclusively. We understand that many people hold multiple marginalized identities, and we strive for an intersectional approach.
What We Will Do
The following Racial Equity Plan and accompanying data dashboard outlines our commitment through:
- The people who lead us, how they behave, and who they represent.
- The people who work for the organization, how we select them, how we respect them, and how we compensate them.
- The partners we commit to, how we engage with them, and how we support those partnerships.
- The audiences and communities we serve, and seek to serve, by providing life-enhancing, performing arts experiences.
We will hold ourselves accountable through regular internal meetings, data collection and analysis, and by soliciting feedback from a variety of our key stakeholders – our colleagues, artists, supporters, and audiences. We look forward to continuing this work and the learning in partnership with these communities.
As an organization, we are working on the following set of 16 strategies and actions to move our racial equity goals forward:
- Evaluate Board requirements to identify and eliminate systemic inequities that prohibit BIPOC participation.
- Develop and explicitly center racial equity goals and values in Board discussions and decision making.
- Establish a Racial Equity Committee made up of one representative from each standing committee of the board, staff, community partners, and governing bodies.
- Ensure alignment of our strategic plans and our racial equity goals.
- Hold the President & Executive Director (CEO) accountable to cultivate antiracist culture and practice throughout the organization.
- Broaden the organization's networks we use to identify new employees. Establish a diverse management team that advances racial equity and equip them with knowledge and resources to manage equitably.
- Create a welcoming process and culture for employees, with particular attention to those underrepresented in the current workforce.
- Attract a diverse audience that reflects the population of Greater Boston and seek to eliminate barriers to experiencing live performances.
- Make sure the programming reflects racial and ethnic diversity among the artists appearing on our stages.
- Guarantee that fees paid to artists of color are equitable.
- Adopt an equitable approach to purchasing goods and services from third party vendors.
- Review all existing and newly developed names, designations, and acknowledgements used within the organization for any historical or unconscious bias or negative connotations.
- Engage our Community Partners (defined as our partner performing arts organizations, our community performance venues, and our Neighborhood Artists) and BIPOC voices collaboratively to build capacity, solve problems, advance our mission, make equitable decisions, and enhance programs for those we serve.
- Establish a culture within our organization that supports ongoing individual, team, department, and community learning about racial equity.
- Capture our organizational narrative and progress.
- Establish a culture of feedback that results in authentic, actionable insight.
- Create an environment fostering belonging for audiences and communities.