TERRY KNICKERBOCKER STUDIO’S ANTI-RACIST BLUEPRINT:

THE ACTIONS WE’VE TAKEN AND OUR COMMITMENT TO FURTHER ACTION


STAFFING

We’ve hired five new faculty members of color since June 2020.

Our faculty is now 26% POC, and our student body is approximately 50% POC. 

We commit to hiring more POC faculty members, to get that percentage to at least 33% by Dec 2022.

We’ve hired 3 new Staff members of color, and our Staff is now 50% POC.  

We commit to examining the hiring criteria/hiring services/job descriptions we’ve used until this point, and to being more flexible with years of experience and degree requirements

Our brand new Summer High School Program’s faculty will be 64% POC, and we intend for the students to be at least 50% POC. 


UPHOLDING TRADITION

We commit to examining the full Meisner curriculum–the “traditional” Meisner curriculum–and seeing what innovations/adaptations we may need to make to create the most anti-racist classroom environment possible. 

A starting point will be to examine the “Point of View” Exercise, where students are asked to research and take on the point of view of someone opposite themself.

We have engaged with Dr. Sharrell D Luckett’s Black Acting Methods and Luckett Paradigm, and have signed up for the 10 Day Anti-Racist Bootcamp. 


EQUAL REPRESENTATION

We have begun to discuss//address financial obstacles to admission–we have established The Excellence Scholarship as class credit for new POC actors enrolling in our Two Year Conservatory Program, which began at one scholarship funded by an alumni student at $1000, and the pool of money will be up to $3750 this year (with Studio contribution) to be broken down into several scholarships

We commit to looking at our social media posting, our marketing, and our admissions process and determining whether it is catering as best it can to POC students. 

We will work with our Director of Admissions and Marketing to assess their experiences with POC students thus far and see what we can do better. 

We commit to an assessment and discussion of 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 POC industry guests, in addition to white guests?

We commit to making land acknowledgments—our Studio in Industry City, BK sits on Canarsie and Munsee Lenape Land— at the start of each class each semester, and at performances.


ACCOUNTABILITY

We have engaged for the past 6 months with a DEI consultant named Jason Craige Harris. 

He has done a Needs Assessment, where we identify organizational blindspots using a multi-dimensional approach, and a focus group process – speaking to various constituencies, faculty, staff and students.

We look at whether there needs to be repair work–his tool is the Circle Process–restorative justice work–which leads to greater self-awareness, and the goal is restoration rather than retribution

There will be skill development around how to have conversations across lines of difference

The work / training will include opportunities to practice interventions.

Jason’s work uses recent neuroscience and social science research on how people handle difference–covering Implicit Bias, Stereotype Threat, and Identity Anxiety


BFRJ Logo

We have achieved Allyship with Broadway for Racial Justice, and our students have access to their hotline to report microaggressions and other incidents. To learn more about their work visit their website here.

We commit to working with our DEI consultant to develop new, clear ways for students to report these kinds of incidents within the Studio.

We have held several Town Hall discussions on DEI since June 2020 to engage the student, alumni, and faculty community, and we commit to having more of these

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.


HAIR, MAKE-UP & COSTUMING

Through requiring our faculty and staff to attend DEI training, we hope to train them better and inform them with respect to POC hair, makeup, costuming etc, as it applies to what students may wear in class, or how they may costume themselves for exercises/activities, scenes etc

(We don’t currently do theater performances)


SAFE SPACES

We are interested in using the term “brave space”, specifically for an artistic/acting studio, where there is a certain necessity for students to risk, push their own emotional boundaries, come out of their shells, etc in order to grow as actors and artists. Using the term “staying safe” here can imply to a student that they don’t take risks and can’t fail–something we don’t want.

But–again, “Anti Racism is what makes us safe.” So–through all of the actions we commit to in this Blueprint–we commit to make our spaces safe first, and then all students, but especially POC students, can feel safe to be brave. 

We commit to offering affinity spaces for POC students


THE WORKS WE USE, FEATURE, PRODUCE

We are offering a black theatre and film history course for the first time

We have been picking more inclusive material for our student and alumni readings, and we’ve featured more POC artists for our TKActor Talks

Again, we commit to taking a comprehensive look at the curriculum for all of our classes, and specifically how the traditional Meisner scenes can change to become more inclusive.

How can the plays read in theatre history and script analysis classes change to become more inclusive?

We commit, once we can go see theater again, to organize field trips to see POC-centered works in NYC.