Theatre and dance create community, bringing people with disparate points of view together to tell stories, share experiences, and imagine new possibilities. Yet, the faculty of Northern Illinois University's School of Theatre and Dance feel these art forms, as they have been practiced and taught in the United States of America, have too often promoted white stories at the expense of the voices and lived experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). The entertainment industry and theatre/dance education have maintained rather than questioned established power structures.
As practitioners and educators of the performing arts, the faculty of NIU's SoTD acknowledges and repudiates our participation in perpetuating these injustices. In response to our Black, Indigenous,and People of Color colleagues in the performing arts, the SoTD Alumni Advocacy Council and our current students, we affirm that:
- Black Lives Matter.
- Violence and xenophobia against the Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is inadmissible.
- Anti-racist practices are foundational to our school's ethos and mission.
- The School of Theatre and Dance is housed in the Stevens Building on Northern Illinois University's campus which sits on the unceded territory of the Sauk, Meskwaki, and Potawatomi Nations. This land continues to carry the stories of these nations and we acknowledge our responsibility to reflect on and actively address these histories.
In recognition of these fundamental truths, the SoTD faculty and staff pledge to:
- Participate in regular Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion training.
- Present staged works by BIPOC playwrights, directors, and choreographers that reflect the diversity of our student body and the world.
- Engage BIPOC practitioners to fill guest artist roles.
- Embrace identity-conscious casting practices.
- Examine our curriculum, pedagogy and training practices to decenter whiteness and embrace a multiplicity of performance approaches and perspectives.
- Focus recruitment efforts toward diversifying our student body.
- Target hiring processes for available faculty positions to attract applicants from BIPOC populations.
- Support NIU's commitment to bias and discrimination reporting processes.
We understand that systems that perpetuate white privilege and power were not constructed overnight, nor will they be easily dismantled. The above commitments represent only the first step toward anti-racist pedagogy and practice. This is a living document and will be revisited on a regular basis. We as a faculty are committed to the work of anti-racism to create a more equitable, inclusive and diverse academic community.