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Racial Equity Statement & Commitment

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.

Our Commitment

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.

Our Plan

As an organization, we are working on the following set of 17 strategies and actions to move our racial equity goals forward:

  1.  Evaluate Board requirements to identify and eliminate systemic inequities that prohibit BIPOC participation.
  2.  Develop and explicitly center racial equity goals and values in Board discussions and decision making.
  3.  Establish a Racial Equity Committee made up of one representative from each standing committee of the board, staff, community partners, and governing bodies.
  4.  Ensure alignment of our strategic plans and our racial equity goals.
  5.  Hold the President & Executive Director (CEO) accountable to cultivate antiracist culture and practice throughout the organization.
  6.  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.
  7.  Create a welcoming process and culture for employees, with particular attention to those underrepresented in the current workforce.
  8.  Attract a diverse audience that reflects the population of Greater Boston and seek to eliminate barriers to experiencing live performances.
  9.  Make sure the programming reflects racial and ethnic diversity among the artists appearing on our stages.
  10.  Guarantee that fees paid to artists of color are equitable.
  11.  Adopt an equitable approach to purchasing goods and services from third party vendors.
  12.  Review all existing and newly developed names, designations, and acknowledgements used within the organization for any historical or unconscious bias or negative connotations.
  13.  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.
  14.  Establish a culture within our organization that supports ongoing individual, team, department, and community learning about racial equity.
  15.  Capture our organizational narrative and progress.
  16.  Establish a culture of feedback that results in authentic, actionable insight.
  17.  Create an environment fostering belonging for audiences and communities.

Our Racial Equity Journey in 2022/23

In the 2022/23 season, Celebrity Series continued to enact our Racial Equity Plan adopted in September 2021, expanding culturally-informed, equity-oriented activity in all spheres of our work.

In alignment with Celebrity Series' racial equity goals, the Racial Equity Committee (REC), comprised of members of the staff and board, spent the year celebrating and elevating diversity with the goal of helping to repair systemic racism. Grounded in the concept of inclusion, this work is propelled by increasingly interactive connections and deep listening. Infused into our practices and relationships with each other - including artists, audiences, staff, vendors, and community partners - is the goal of ensuring that each member of the broad Celebrity Series community experiences a sense of ownership, voice, and belonging.

2022/23 Efforts Included:

  • Continuing to diversify an already broad variety of performers, reflecting the multiculturalism of Boston through our artists, venues, and community partners
  • Ensuring financial equity in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists' compensation
  • Prioritizing opportunities to work with BIPOC-led vendors
  • Revamping our data collection and evaluation at Neighborhood Arts concerts to better understand our audience
  • Quarterly anonymous surveys for Arts For All! artists and partners to improve feedback loops
  • A focus group moderated by an external facilitator with community partners, leading to program improvements
  • Growing BIPOC leadership on the Boards of Directors and Advisors
  • Forming a staff racial equity subgroup focused on welcoming, equitable practices for recruitment, learning, and accountability
  • Consistently reviewing and shifting language around names, descriptors, designations, and acknowledgements that reflect current or history systemic oppression or bias

Racial Equity and Diversity Dashboard

With each measure, raising the bar: Celebrity Series is committed to becoming more equitable and anti-racist by ensuring equal access to creative experiences for everyone. We strive to reflect the diversity in Boston of the people that lead, work, and participate in our organization. We are raising the bar with a goal of 30% of our boards, audiences, artists, and employees to be Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

As we progress toward and beyond our equity milestones, we are committed to transparency and repair so that we can acknowledge our improvements and be open about where we need improvement. In this gallery are the key figures we use to track our progress toward our racial equity goals. Our data collection methodology includes a combination of self-reported survey data, research-based data, and modeled data using TRG's Data Center.

If you have suggestions or feedback, please reach out to

History and Past Seasons

A snapshot of the historical forces that have led us to this work, and actions taken in the 2021/22 season

After developing our Racial Equity Plan, the 2021/22 season saw progress and provided several reminders of how and why this journey toward equity requires a steady cycle of action, assessment, and reflection across all areas of the organization.

A centerpiece of the plan was to establish a board-level Racial Equity Committee charged with working through the other standing committees of the board to ensure the fulfillment of our racial equity goals. In related governance actions, we renamed the Board of Overseers to the Board of Advisors and adopted a more inclusive guideline for the criteria and expectations of our Board members.

Cultivating Directors and Advisors of color represents an area of particular focus in the 2022/23 season. We have engaged Colette Phillips and her Get Konnected! networking initiative to help with these efforts and introduce Celebrity Series to Boston's up-and-coming and established professionals of color.

The 2021/22 season's programming continued to reflect the Celebrity Series' longstanding commitment to diversity in its programming. Highlights were "The Movement Series," a trio of performances including Sankofa Danzafro's "Accommodating Lie," Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Daniel Bernard Roumain's "The Just and the Blind," and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater which highlighted issues of social justice. We engaged Black- and woman-owned firm The Williams Agency for community engagement and audience development in support of this series.

Our Finance and Administration team moved the Celebrity Series endowment and other funds - a total of $14M as of June 2022 - to an asset management firm owned by a woman of color. On the Human Resources front, job searches did not advance until people of color represented at least 25% of the applicant pool.

The adoption of the Racial Equity Plan in 2021/22 and the allocation of resources helped us discover new ways to move forward. As we begin the 2022/23 season, we rededicate ourselves to the goal of centering racial equity as a strategic level imperative for our organization.

Governance Established a board and staff Racial Equity Committee that is working through all standing committees to implement the Racial Equity Plan. Adopted more inclusive Guidelines for the Boards of Directors and Advisors to address both the selection criteria for board members as well as the expectations of those board members. Changed the name of our non-governing board to Board of Advisors Identified and hired a firm to help diversify our Board recruitment efforts. Work begins in the current 2022/23 season. Finance and Human Resources Changed investment managers for the organization's portfolio ($14M in invested funds as of June 2022) in order to improve portfolio performance. After an extensive search process, we chose an asset management firm owned by a woman of color. Established and published the diversity data dashboard. Ensured that the hiring pools for administrative positions had at least 25% candidates of color. Despite these efforts, staff BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) representation saw a modest decrease to 18% (from 20%), mostly due to the unusually elevated level of staff turnover during the pandemic. Completed a full assessment of the organization's spending to ascertain a current baseline of 8% of non-payroll / non-artistic fee spending with vendors of color. Artistic / Programming Added more robust community engagement activity linked to specific subscription season performances and created deep connections between artists of color and organizations serving BIPOC students and professionals. Maintained target goals for diversity in programming for the upcoming 2022/23 subscription season and the Neighborhood Arts season (see dashboard). Marketing / Communications Added an institutional land acknowledgement to website. Engaged audience development, marketing, and grassroots community-building firm The Williams Agency (principal, Nicola Williams) to create a strategy to build awareness of and participation in the three productions that were dubbed "The Movement Series." Began to engage with Boston While Black and other groups that offer promotional opportunities to networks of color. Challenges during 2021/22 that will be a high priority for progress in 2022/23 Embedding active listening and systemic feedback loops within the organization, with our community partners, donors, and audience members and with those not participating in our work. Establishing a more regular (as opposed to episodic) cycle of learning about racial equity for the staff and boards of the organization. Securing accurate data about the current demographics of our audiences. This information remains elusive.

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 2021/22 data dashboard linked below.

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.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that Celebrity Series presents performances in multiple venues around Boston which reside on traditional ancestral and unceded lands of the Massachusetts tribes. We honor their people, past, present and emerging, and their connection to the land on which we gather.