Our Commitment to Anti-Racism
We at Minnesota Fringe understand that systemic racism, white privilege, and white supremacy exist. Racism is insidious, complex, and dehumanizing to all it touches.2 It is intrinsically tied to the development of our country, our society, and our art. Our beloved Twin Cities remain in a state of social unrest as our community navigates the aftermath of George Floyd's murder (and Philando’s, and Jamar’s, and Breonna’s, and Ahmaud’s, and…). Deep systemic inequities, marginalization, and oppression exist in all aspects of our lives. American Theater as a whole, the Fringe movement, and Minnesota Fringe are not immune to those inequities.
We believe that Black Matters.
Black Lives Matter.
Black Artists Matter.
Black Voices Matter.
Black Community Matters.
Our mission is to connect adventurous artists with adventurous audiences by creating open, supportive forums for free and diverse artistic expression. We are proud to be a platform in which first time producers and seasoned artists can mingle on our stages. Over the years, we have made efforts to ensure that Minnesota Fringe is an equitable, diverse, and non-discriminatory space, but we have fallen short. We recognize that we have not done enough to make our programming welcoming and inclusive for BIPOC, Latinx, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized artists, volunteers, and audiences. We see the lack of racial diversity on our staff and board and commit ourselves to greater diversity. We also understand that diversity needs to be more than tokenism. We need to actively work to make inclusion and diversity a priority. We cannot just sit back and wait for a diverse population to find us.4
We recognize that Minnesota Fringe has upheld characteristics of white supremacy culture in the creation of our policies, procedures, and organizational culture. We recognize that regardless of our intentions, the impact of our actions, non-actions, and ignorance has been harmful to the incredibly diverse community of BIPOC, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ artists here in Minnesota. We aim to change that.
We encourage you, our community, to join us in the fight against injustice and racism. Undoing systemic inequities will take all of us. It means having uncomfortable conversations, it means taking action, it means educating ourselves. The good news is that we are in this together. Let us not miss this opportunity to make our community and our home a more just and equitable place.3
We are listening, we are learning.
Next steps for Minnesota Fringe
During this time of reflection, refocusing, and recalibration post-Festival, we will:
- Review and revise hiring processes to ensure equitable hiring practices;
- Always disclose salary information in job postings to decrease the gender and racial wage gaps that permeate due to income cloaking;
- Actively seek out BIPOC, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ folx to fill at least half of our current open board positions, and other positions that become available within our organization;
- Analyze our internal processes and procedures to determine which are inequitable and work to restructure those policies;
- Analyze and change the customer experience and the ticketing and box office process to ensure it is equitable and inclusive for all;
- Scrutinize and change Festival procedures to ensure artists of color are being actively engaged, subsidized, supported, and provided equitable opportunity1;
- Develop ways to expand our Festival Artist Grant program to ensure more artists with limited income can participate in our Festival;
- Update our application process and the lottery so that is inclusive and equitable, discuss the option of adding an Equity Lottery;
- Connect with organizations and community groups in the spaces in which we operate our festival to get free/discounted tickets into the hands of the people who reside there in order to expand our audience base and build community;
- Update staff & volunteer training/onboarding to include education and resources about systemic racism and equitable practices;
- Add land acknowledgements to our programs and pre-show announcements;
- Seek out funding to hire an external equity audit of our organization;
- When we are able to compensate BIPOC, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ artists; we will collaborate with them on our internal audit findings and work with them to continue to transform Minnesota Fringe into a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community.
- Continue dedicating time, resources, and space to brave community conversations regarding dismantling oppressive systems upheld by white creatives; 1
We extend an open invitation to artists, audience, and community members to share with us their experiences at our Festival and with our organization. 4 Share with us here.
This commitment is not a solution. It is a first step towards a better future for us all. It is our commitment to our community that we will step up and listen and do better.1 We will post updates on our progress on this page.
This statement is inspired by, and sections of it are borrowed from, the anti-racism statements of:
Update as of February 1st, 2021:
Minnesota Fringe just finished administering the Theater Emergency Relief Fund to Theater and Dance Tech & Design Professionals in Minnesota. We committed to awarding at least 10% of those funds to a historically marginalized community, but were able to disperse 45% of those gifts to artists who identified as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and/or as a person with a disability.
The Board of Directors has several open member positions at the moment. We are seeking out individuals who represent different identities than those we currently have in leadership. One small step towards this goal has been posting our open positions on twice as many websites in order to get a wider range of visibility.
Seasonal positions for the summer Festival have also been posted. Application language and hiring practices were reviewed and updated prior to posting to ensure an equal playing field for all. Instead of only posting these positions on the Minnesota Fringe website and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, we expanded our posting visibility to include Handshake (which goes out to numerous local colleges and universities) and Springboard for the Arts.