Positive Action

Our Commitment to a Fairer Future

We are living through extraordinary times. Covid-19 has impacted all our lives. The entire theatre industry is in jeopardy as we head into the deepest recession in living memory. Those who have long been marginalised stand to lose the most. Against this backdrop, the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the pernicious nature of racism and how it infects the systems that uphold power.

We will not stand idly by as discrimination, prejudice and inequality go unchecked. Box of Tricks commits to equality and fairness in everything we do. Our work is enriched by a diversity of voices and a variety of stories. In the wake of this crisis, it is essential that we educate ourselves, challenge ingrained habits and develop new ones to amplify diverse voices and stories as we rebuild for a better future.

Dismantling institutionalised bias is a daunting task and requires collective action. We recognise our responsibility to play our part in bringing about a systemic shift. Below are our Commitments – an outline of our guiding values – and a 10-point Action Plan for tangible, positive change in the next 6-9 months. Long-lasting structural reform will take time but we’re determined to generate the momentum to effect real change now and in the future.

Adam Quayle & Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder
Joint Artistic Directors, Box of Tricks

23 June 2020

Our Commitments

- We will stand up to discrimination and prejudice wherever we encounter it and whatever form it takes. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our peers to root out ableism, sexism, racism, religious intolerance, homophobia, transphobia and classism within our industry.

- We will fight for equality inside and outside Box of Tricks. We will champion voices we feel are currently underrepresented on our stages. No aspect of identity – disability, neurodiversity, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and/or lower socio-economic background – will prevent your voice from being heard.

- Our working environment will be one where everyone can thrive free from discrimination or prejudice. Whether on stage or off, we will challenge instances of discrimination and support the individuals that encounter it.

- We will reflect the wider society beyond our theatres - in the stories we tell, the individuals we employ, the audiences we engage. We will make plays that are as rich and varied as those communities. We will empower playwrights and creatives to tell the stories they want to tell and embrace their unique perspective on the world.

- We will build audiences that reflect the communities where we stage our work. We will develop marketing and audience development strategies to attract new audiences beyond the already culturally-engaged.

- We will gather data on our Core Team, Board and freelance creative workforce so we can identify areas of low diversity - comparing statistics against current local and national averages to gauge our progress - and implement positive change to increase representation.

- We will celebrate the individual and their lived experience. We will not group disparate identities to meet diversity quotas or use unhelpful acronyms that further obscure and entrench discrimination.

- We will remove barriers to access wherever we find them and prioritise access needs wherever they are required. We will increase the accessibility of our workplace and future productions so no one is excluded.

- We will combat structural discrimination through positive action. We will actively identify and develop talent from all backgrounds and forge future pathways within the industry.

- We will be transparent and open in how we achieve change. We will seek feedback, invite discussion, listen and learn. We will be open to criticism and hold our hands up when we make mistakes. We will be the change we want to see.

Our Action Plan

Over the next six to nine months, we will:

1. Pilot a new Diversity Survey where respondents can self-identify free from pre-defined tick boxes. Sent out to Board, Core Team and freelance creatives, this survey will enable us to gather detailed data that captures the complexity of individuals and intersectional identities to monitor and review representation and effect change where necessary.

2. Identify areas of low diversity and underrepresentation in Box of Tricks’ operations and take action. We will evaluate our current position so we can tackle underrepresentation head-on.

3. Increase representation at Board level. Through a targeted recruitment drive, we will expand our Board and increase diversity and representation.

4. Prioritise underrepresented groups for future appointments within our Core Team. Roles will be advertised widely, targeting areas of underrepresentation. All candidates who meet a role’s essential criteria and identify as being from an underrepresented group will be shortlisted for interview under our Positive Action Policy.

5. Launch playwriting commissions targeting underrepresented groups. Through targeted commissions for underrepresented groups, we will identify and commission playwrights from a broader spectrum of lived experience.

6. Cast without prejudice. For all future castings, we will not specify any aspect of a character in a breakdown unless it is intrinsic to the story being told.

7. Launch a programme of professional development to increase diversity within our creative and backstage teams. We will pilot training schemes to encourage new offstage talent from underrepresented groups.

8. Facilitate safe spaces for open conversations with artists and creatives – where discrimination, prejudice and institutional barriers can be openly discussed – which will inform future practice.

9. Establish safe and robust reporting procedures for calling out discrimination, whether institutional or personal, so we can listen, learn and take action.

10. Improve access for artists and audiences. Reviewing access throughout our work, we will identify areas of inaccessibility and work towards removing barriers to full engagement.