The Coterie is a non-profit organization, established in 1979, with the mission of providing professional classic and contemporary theatre which challenges audience and artist and provides educational, dramatic outreach programs in the community. We seek to open lines of communication between races, genders, and generations by redefining children’s theatre to include families and diverse audiences.
Our work onstage and off continues to be guided by our mission and reflects that we value:
- VOICES: We are committed to opening the minds of young people, as well as creating opportunities to hear and share the voices of young people as well as the voices that speak to them.
- LOVE: We believe that a commitment to equity is an expression of love.
- JUSTICE: We embrace the arts as an essential force in promoting justice for all.
- IMAGINATION: We share stories that stretch the imagination and open new perspectives of our local and global communities.
- STORYTELLING: We celebrate diversity through storytelling, on-stage performances, and education, always striving to uplift and amplify the voices of young people.
Our staff, artists, and board members are on a journey of building intentional strategies around equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice, seeking to ensure that our actions continue to be an expression of our values.
OUR COMMITMENT TO ANTIRACISM AND ANTIDISCRIMINATION WORK --
AND TOWARDS EQUITY, DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, & JUSTICE
As a theatre for young audiences (TYA), The Coterie is engaging in antiracism and antidiscrimination work to actively stand against and denounce racism, discrimination, and violence against all people in our community. Embracing the work involved in Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice (EDIJ), The Coterie Staff (“Staff”) and Board of Directors (“Board”) are analyzing our weak points and the underlying inequities that are revealed. We will focus on finding meaningful and lasting ways of improving these areas through an EDIJ lens.
We are accountable to young people and their families; for narratives we offer them and for the environments in our classes and programs. We understand the theatre industry has been complicit in allowing racist and discriminatory practices to exist. Our Staff and Board will be looking inward to take inventory of bias and privilege.
We take responsibility to review all of our practices, programs, and policies through an EDIJ lens. We welcome external feedback and recommendations on areas for further analysis or change. We commit to sharing our ongoing actions with our Stakeholders as part of our mission “to break down barriers between races, genders and generations.”
We have formed an EDIJ Task Force with a variety of perspectives from Staff and Board. The Task Force is developing an action plan focused on taking measurable steps towards comprehensive antiracism and antidiscrimination work. This plan will include timelines and specific goals for each step and updates will be shared with our local and national community as a way to ensure transparency and accountability.
Some of the first steps that the staff and Board are taking in EDIJ work include:
- an examination of the demographics of our community as a way for us to understand who participates in our work, and to take on the challenge of including those who do not
- an inspection of Board processes, practices, and governing documents through an EDIJ lens
- changes in personnel hiring practices to be more intentional in reflecting our community
- a re-examination of our existing programs onstage and off (such as Project Pride, Project Daylight, our Bus Subsidy Program, and more) through an EDIJ lens in order to amp up those programs that are having success in serving diverse audiences
- a focus on adding new site locations for classes to meet our communities where they are and to serve those communities who have been excluded in the past
- a reorganization of theatre class scholarships to increase access to all young artists
- an inclusion of land acknowledgements in our public materials to recognize the ground originally inhabited by Indigenous Peoples
- an increase in partnerships and mentorships as another way of taking on the challenge of including all voices.
We are in this process to learn and listen and grow as we take the first steps on this journey.
E D I & J TIMELINE
June 1, 2020 to Present -- Check back for our latest updates
April 30, 2021
Land acknowledgements begin at The Coterie from this date going forward, with a poster presence in the lobby and voiced in the preshow announcements before each performance.
Formation of Coterie EDI&J Task force: Board Members Amanda Beaver, Nicole Jacobs-Silvey, Karen Luchinsky, Jaleeza Owens, Lori Riddle, Andrew Van Der Laan, Lisa Veglahn. Staff members Jeff Church, Scott Hobart, Amanda Kibler, Joette Pelster.
February 12, 2021
We have made the pledge. Hold us accountable. #BIPOCinTYA
This organization pledges itself to…
Collectively work through the document “Anti-Racist & Anti-Oppressive Futures for Theatre for Young Audiences: An Interactive Guide.”
Participate in transparent, quarterly check-ins to report on progress made.
Take measurable action & commit to ongoing engagement in this work.
Remember that we are accountable to young people, their families, and the worlds we help them imagine.
(Did you know you can individually pledge to commit to this project, too? It's going to take collective investment to usher in impactful transformation. Join the growing list of individuals and artists and administrators: www.tyausa.org/bipocintya/)
Sept. 17 – Dec. 17, 2020
The full Coterie staff takes the 11-part Listen-Learn-Lead Antiracism in TYA Webinar Series exploring the issues and perspectives regarding the ways organizations can begin to (or further) embed antiracist practice in theatre for young audiences. The entire Coterie staff took in the series—learning the challenging work of dismantling systemic racism is an act of love, not an act of compliance.
August 1, 2020
The Coterie joined a number of partnering theatres on the virtual world premiere of A Kids Play about Racism, an online theatrical experience for children and families. Adapted from the groundbreaking book and produced in partnership with 41 other Theatres for Young Audiences across the country, including Bay Area Children's Theatre, Alliance Theatre for Families and Seattle Children's Theatre as Lead Producers. This performance and its resources have remained free of charge online for families with ages 5 and older to explain what racism is, how to know it when you see and experience it, and ideas for what you can do about it.
Adapted and Directed by Khalia Davis, Lyrics by Davied Morales, Music by Justin Ellington
Based on the book by Jelani Memory, A Kids Book About Racism
June 1, 2020
The Coterie is asking itself how can we break down barriers between race, genders, and generations as part of our mission, though the stories we tell and the narratives we shape. What opportunities do we need to provide? What doors do we need to open? What voices need to be amplified? The Coterie stands in solidarity with theatres for youth and families across the country because Black children matter. Black dreams matter. Black futures matter.
A Statement from @tyausa1965 #BlackLivesMatter
Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA) will not remain silent as we continue to experience the emergency of systemic racism. We grieve the senseless and unjust killing of George Floyd, and the countless others who have lost their lives to injustice and police brutality. Black lives matter, and children need to be included in the conversation in order to make change.
The TYA community must recognize that we play a vital role in shaping the narrative through the stories we tell and those we don’t tell to young people across the nation. Young people of color have been consistently underrepresented in all content created for kids and families. They need to be reflected and celebrated on our stages. In addition to denouncing racism and violence against people of color in our communities, our field needs to look inward. We need to invest in and champion more artists of color, reflect the diversity of our communities in our organizational staff and boards, and use the stage to demonstrate our values. How do we ensure that the stories we tell develop empathy, build bridges, and communicate that the lives of our children of color matter?
TYA/USA recommits to galvanizing our national network to create the systemic changes needed to fight for justice and demand change. Our young people deserve better than the world we are offering them, and it is our job to help rewrite the story.