Diversity and New Opportunities!
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The recent events in our country have been a rallying cry against racial inequality. SAK stands behind all people of color seeking justice and equal treatment under the law, and supports the protests fighting for this cause. We believe Black Lives Matter. On a company level, this movement has served as a wake-up call that SAK can do more to create the kind of diversity that we want to see within our walls and on our stage.
Improvisation thrives off diverse thoughts, ideas and senses of humor. It’s why people love our shows. It would only make sense that SAK would benefit from greater diversity within our ensembles and staff. We seek diversity not just because it’s socially responsible, but because we know it makes us a better company. We’ve made progress in some areas, but we can do better, and we will. As part of this pledge, we are taking the following actions:
1. Expand our existing diversity scholarship program for students. We believe one of the best ways to find diverse talent for our professional cast is to expand the base of talented, diverse actors who enter our training program. This starts by lowering the barriers to entry. We seek to award $20,000 in diversity scholarships annually as a starting point. We will expand on this number as resources allow. We will begin immediately crafting a diversity page on our website that states our values and takes applications. All received applications will be reviewed by one or more BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) within our professional ensemble or staff, and this person(s) will be paid for their time.
2. Develop a student mentorship program. Offering a student scholarship is just the beginning. We believe it is crucial to have ongoing follow-up with all scholarship students, especially those who possess an aptitude and skill set that would make them great SAK performers. Giving these students access to mentors will provide invaluable support as they progress.
3. Develop a fast-track program for established performers. Not every performer with a high aptitude for improv has the time to commit to six levels of improv classes, and scheduling constraints deprive SAK from potentially amazing new talent (of all backgrounds) who could otherwise be a great fit for our professional ensemble. For those established performers who are interested in exploring improv at SAK, we would like to offer them an abbreviated class experience contained in a single session. This would be a private, invite-only program offered at no cost.
4. Remain diversity-conscious in the hiring of our administrative, front of house and educational staff as positions become available. We have made a conscious effort to make strides in creating diversity in our non-performer staffing. The last two senior level job openings at SAK were both filled by women, one of whom is a person of color. We also seek to improve the communication and team-oriented atmosphere between all our staff and performers through nightly team huddles, among other measures.
5. Improve our transparency. We pledge to continue communicating with our company every six months or sooner as progress is made toward these diversity goals. In remaining transparent about the actions that leadership is taking, we hope to foster additional dialogue within the SAK family to identify additional ways to promote inclusion on stage and off. The leadership team will make ourselves available for ongoing conversations about ways we can improve our company and community.
We are so excited to have developed these concrete steps with our community, and genuinely cannot wait for SAK to be the kind of company we all imagine it can be. If you are interested in learning more about any of these existing or upcoming programs, or have a comment or question, please feel free to reach out to [email protected]