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Diversity Action Plan

 Last Updated: January 2022.  Download PDF here.

 

Executive Summary

Overview

The Department of Theatre at the University of Tennessee is dedicated to creating rigorous educational programs that are fully integrated with the operations of a professional theatre serving our region. This dual mission informs everything that we do. The Department operates The Clarence Brown Theatre (CBT), a LORT D Equity theatre (League of Resident Theatres), and is a member of the University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA). The Department and the CBT are fully integrated in all aspects of mission and function. We offer a four-year general Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre with optional concentrations in Honors, Acting, and Design and Technology, and a three-year Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre with concentrations in Acting, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Scenic Design, and Sound and Media Design. The MFA in acting has been ranked among the top 25 professional training programs internationally for the past 4 years, reaching to #8 in 2020. We uphold and promote high professional standards of integrity, behavior, and endeavor. We are deeply committed to the values of the College of Arts and Sciences: the traditions of the liberal arts; free, bold, and ethical intellectual inquiry; vibrant and effective civic engagement; respect for diversity and cultural variety; and an understanding of and appreciation for our nation’s and world’s rich natural and cultural heritages.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are the top strategic priority of the Dept. of Theatre / Clarence Brown Theatre. We seek sustained transformation of every aspect of our unit. To provide some context, the terrible racial and social injustice events of 2020 shook the entire American theatre community to its core, and rightly so. In 2020 people of color in the profession published a devastating critique We See You White American Theatre that intensified self- examination and action throughout the profession. UT Theatre alumni and students followed with their own critique of our culture and practices, raising many truths about our deficiencies with respect to DEI. In fall of 2020, an ad hoc College of Arts and Sciences special task force was created to review our unit and provide recommendations for improvement. Internally, we created a new standing DEI Committee tasked with drafting and carrying out a strategic Diversity Action Plan (DAP). The Task Force completed its work and issued a final report to the department in early 2021. The departmental Diversity Action Plan was completed and approved by the College of Arts and Sciences in summer of 2021. The plan is under continuous review and improvement. Below are the broadest goals and objectives of the plan.

Goal 1: Create and sustain a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive campus climate.

Objectives:

  • Objective 1: Model & communicate DEI values, policies, practices, and resources regularly and effectively to all members of the department, the CBT, patrons, and the general public. Draft or revise all department and CBT documents to forefront DEI values and practice; educate faculty, staff, and students in DEI values and practice, and in reporting bias, harassment, or other incidents regarding climate.
  • Objective 2: Program CBT productions with content or themes that address issues of DEI and allow for diversity in staffing and casting in the production program as a whole. Project the overall DEI potential of each production season and prioritize DEI in final season selection.

Goal 2: Attract and retain greater numbers of individuals from historically underrepresented populations into faculty, staff, and administrative positions (particularly department heads, directors, deans, and vice chancellors).

Objectives:

  • Objective 1: Recruit and retain a diverse faculty. Closely adhere to best practices for diversity hiring. Broaden recruiting network and compare results with national demographic data and aspirational peer programs.
  • Objective 2: Recruit and retain a diverse professional staff. Closely adhere to best practices for diversity hiring. Broaden recruiting network and compare results with national demographic data and aspirational peer programs.
  • Objective 3: Recruit and retain diverse guest artists and guest / temporary staff in all Clarence Brown Theatre production areas. Closely adhere to best practices for diversity hiring. Broaden recruiting network and compare results with national demographic data and aspirational peer programs.

Goal 3: Attract, retain, and graduate increasing numbers of undergraduate and graduate students from historically underrepresented populations and international students.

Objectives:

  • Objective 1: Recruit and retain MFA students from under-represented populations. Closely adhere to best practices for diversity graduate recruiting. Engage national and international recruiting networks and opportunities and compare results with national demographic data and aspirational peer programs.
  • Objective 2: Recruit and retain BA students from under-represented populations. Closely adhere to best practices for diversity graduate recruiting. Engage local, state, and national, and international recruiting networks and opportunities and compare results with national demographic data and aspirational peer programs.

Goal 4: Develop and strengthen partnerships with diverse communities in Tennessee and globally.

Objectives:

  • Objective 1: Diversify the CBT advisory board with community leaders from the BIPOC, and LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented groups, and engage all board members to broaden contacts and promote DEI in CBT culture, events, publicity, and programming.
  • Objective 2: Develop outreach programs that serve or partner with area schools and communities of underrepresented populations.

Goal 5: Prepare undergraduate students to work and live in a diverse world.

Objectives:

  • Objective 1: Integrate diverse cultural perspectives in the BA curriculum.

Goal 6: Prepare graduate students to become teachers and researchers in a diverse world.

Objectives:

  • Objective 1: Increase diverse cultural perspectives in the MFA curriculum. Increase MFA students’ awareness of global art, perspectives, and research.
  • Objective 2: Provide MFA students with training in DEI.