TERRY KNICKERBOCKER STUDIO’S
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION,
AND ANTI-RACISM ROADMAP:
I. OUR CORE VALUES
II. THE ACTIONS WE’VE TAKEN
III. OUR COMMITMENT TO FURTHER ACTION
(AS OF 6.2.22)
We honor the Munsee Lenape and Canarsie people, the original caretakers of the unceded land on which the Studio sits, which the Lenape traditionally called “Lenapehoking.” We honor their and other Native people’s ongoing struggles for dignity and sovereignty, and we seek to honor their teachings of living in greater harmony and reciprocity with all that lives and sustains life. This is a living land acknowledgement that will continue to be revised and strengthened in collaboration with community members.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION: CORE VALUES AT TK STUDIO
At the heart of Terry Knickerbocker Studio is a deep commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As you contemplate what it means to be a part of this community, we urge you to read this explanation of our core values and to consider ways that you already live in alignment with these values and how you might live into these values more consciously and deeply. TK Studio is committed to fostering an environment that is free from identity-based antagonisms and aims to bring together a wide range of students and faculty to learn together. We seek students who are generous, curious, collaborative, and who can enrich the diversity of the Studio. TK Studio is community-oriented, and values greatly the love, mutuality, and sense of trust and dignity that bond people together regardless of identity and background.
Through our two-year long process of vigorously examining DEI at our Studio, we’ve been made aware that some people in our community have had experiences that were not in alignment with our core values. And specifically, we recognize that students from underrepresented backgrounds and even more particularly students of color have had experiences at the Studio where they’ve been left feeling a lack of acceptance or belonging, as though their identities were not worthy of celebration or respect. In fact, some of our students of color have felt excluded or tokenized here.
We want to acknowledge the harm that has happened. We want to apologize for the harm. We want to say we are grateful for all those who have come forward to share candidly about what they’ve experienced. And we hereby commit ourselves to redoubling the work of repair, which means we work toward a Studio where this harm no longer happens. And if it does ever happen, then we commit to be much more responsive than we’ve been in the past.
We also urge all members of the Studio community––but particularly staff, faculty, and students in positions of power, leadership, or privilege––to join us in this commitment, as each of us, as we interact with one another, have a responsibility to uphold dignity and pursue repair when needed.
THE ACTIONS WE’VE TAKEN (AS OF JUNE 2, 2022)
We’ve hired five new faculty members of color. Our faculty is currently 26% POC.
We’ve hired three new staff members of color. Our Staff is currently 33% POC.
Our July 2022 Summer High School Program’s faculty will be 56% POC.
We have engaged since May 2021 with DEI consultant Jason Craige Harris. He has identified organizational strengths and blindspots using a multi-dimensional approach–first, he held individual in-depth interviews with staff, and facilitated both mixed identity and students of color focus groups with alumni, current students, faculty, and the former Diversity Committee.
He then underwent a comprehensive audit of our policies, practices, and marketing efforts, reviewed our curricular frameworks, and examined our hiring practices, performance evaluations, and admissions process. He produced an extensive, comprehensive report on his findings, and we communicated these findings to the community.
Based on his report, Jason helped us to put all of his suggested initiatives into this DEI Roadmap, to guide our work over the next year, and in the years to come.
Jason’s audit of our social media posting, our marketing, and our admissions process has produced suggestions for how we can better feature, highlight, promote and reach students and other community members of color.
We have begun to discuss//address financial obstacles to admission–we have established The Excellence Scholarship as class credit for new actors of color enrolling in our Two Year Conservatory Program, which began at one scholarship funded by an alumni student at $1,000, and the pool of money will be up to $3,750 this year (with Studio contribution) to be broken down into several scholarships.
We are in Allyship with Broadway for Racial Justice, and our students have access to their hotline for support with DEI-related incidents, after which BFRJ will help to facilitate repair if needed. To learn more about their work, visit their website here.
We have held several Town Hall discussions since June 2020—one centered on Anti-Black Violence, and one centered on AAPI Hate– in order to engage our students, alumni, and faculty, in order to foster community conversations.
We offered a course on the Black Arts Movement and Black Theater and Film History for the first time in Spring 2021, and we aim to offer this course again, and/or a new course in Post Colonial Theater and History, during the 2022-2023 academic year.
We have been curating more diverse material for our student and alumni readings, and we’ve featured more artists of color for our TKActor Talks.
We are offering group discounted tickets to see POC-centered works in NYC.
OUR COMMITMENT TO FURTHER ACTION (FROM JUNE 2022 TO JUNE 2023)
We commit to hiring more faculty members of color, to achieve 33% faculty members of color
We commit that at least 50% of our staff members will be people of color
We commit to examining the hiring criteria/hiring services/job descriptions we’ve used until this point, and to making sure to engage recruiting services that are connected with and committed to hiring staff members of color.
We commit to begin gathering demographic data on our students in order to better understand who makes up our student and non-student community. This info can then inform targeted recruitment efforts in the future, in order to increase overall diversity in our student body.
We commit to taking a comprehensive look at the curriculum for all of our classes, with the goal of making curriculum more inclusive and relevant. We will be ensuring our faculty members continually renew their commitments to always teaching their work through a DEI lens.
We specifically commit to seeing what innovations/adaptations we may need to make to the traditional Meisner curriculum and “Meisner scenes” to create the most inclusive classroom environment possible.
We specifically commit to seeing what innovations/adaptations we may need to make to the curriculum//casting advice given in our Third Year Industry Classes—is there a way our teachers can better speak to students of color going out into the industry? Can they focus on bringing in more industry guests of color?
We commit to providing required DEI Training for all students, faculty, and staff. We aim to begin this in the Fall of 2022/Spring of 2023.
We commit to creating, solidifying and announcing a new structure for students, staff, and faculty to report DEI issues within our Studio—including the establishment of designated, trained DEI Leaders on staff, as well as a group of trained DEI Point People—faculty and staff members.
We commit to offering affinity spaces for students of color and other underrepresented groups at the Studio
We commit to re-examining and solidifying our Community Norms across all classes at the Studio—including pronoun and land acknowledgments and “We Statements”
We commit to solidifying and making known our “casting policy”— when a faculty member “casts” any scenes, etc, that explicit conversations are held around identity–if you’re playing a role, then your identity is a part of that performance. Faculty and students will work to balance complexity and honor nuance when casting characters, scenes, etc.
We commit to, at minimum, annual reviews of all of our DEI work and initiatives so we can remain accountable, and further commit to changing as necessary in response to said reviews.