Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Clarence Brown Theatre and the University of Tennessee Theatre Department
The Clarence Brown Theatre and the UT Theatre Department are committed to developing robust and well-defined policies and practices to enhance the equity, diversity, and inclusion of our professional theatre and our educational programs. We recognize that our previous policies and practices failed to create the vibrant, supportive, and diverse community we want to be. Moreover, we realize that we have not done everything in our power to assure that our spaces were truly inclusive and inviting to all. We will be working throughout this school year, with clear focus and deep commitment, on the process of change to become the theatre community we want to be: a safe, responsive, creative home for all the students, faculty, staff and guest artists who enter our doors.
To accomplish this goal, we have created two separate groups who will work together. The first group is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce. The DEI Taskforce, made up of representatives from across the University and Clarence Brown community, will meet throughout this school year to recognize and name the biased systems, actions, and events that have occurred in our classrooms and theatres so that we can see clearly where changes need to be made. The second group is a permanent, or “standing”, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, composed of Theatre faculty and graduate students, and Clarence Brown staff. The DEI Committee, guided by the Taskforce, will devise the policies and create the practices that will ensure these changes occur. Both the Taskforce and the Committee have held initial meetings and begun their work. Both groups will meet every few weeks throughout the year.
The DEI Taskforce will have the entire 2020-21 school year to complete its work and present its findings to the DEI Committee. The DEI Committee will begin immediately to review our current policies and practices so that we are prepared to implement the recommendations of the DEI Taskforce efficiently and effectively. The DEI Committee has already begun the creating meaningful measures to ensure the successful implementation of the Theatre Department’s new Diversity Action Plan and is exploring avenues to bring anti-racist training to all Theatre faculty and staff.
The Clarence Brown Theatre and the UT Theatre Department are determined to ensure that our words of support and concern for our BIPOC students and community are followed up by actions that measurably improve all our classroom, production, and performance spaces in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion. We look forward to engaging with our students, alumni, guest artists, and audience members in this important process.
The members of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee are:
- Casey Sams, Chair, Associate Head for Theatre
- Tom Cervone, CBT Managing Director
- Dr. Gina Di Salvo, Head of Graduate Studies
- Jed Diamond, Head of Acting
- Zachariah Lidstone, MFA candidate in Acting
- Susan McMillan, CBT Production Manager
- Lauren Roark, Head of Design
The members of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce are:
- Dr. Tina Shepardson, Chair, Head of Religious Studies
- Dr. Angie Batey, Arts & Sciences Assoc. Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
- Melissa Caldwell-Weddig, CBT Costume Shop Supervisor
- George Hairston, CBT Assistant Technical Director
- Shinnerrie Jackson, Actor and Lecturer
- Liv Jin, Theatre major concentrating in Design and Technology
- Carol Mayo Jenkins, CBT Guest Artist, Acting Faculty
- Morgan Moody, Administrative Assistant of Graduate Studies, School of Music
- Margie Nichols, CBT Advisory Board Chair
- Casey Sams, DEI Committee Representative
- CortneyJo Sandidge, Assistant Vice Provost, Student Success
- Je’Juan Henderson, Senior Undergraduate Theatre major