On May 31, we paused our programming in an effort to respect and give space to the needs of our community at this important time, and we’ve grappled internally with when to resume our artistic content. We believe that this is not the time to be silent – art is essential in any moment, especially now – but we recognize that there is much more to be done.
We are looking at ways we can hold ourselves more accountable to our mission of advancing theatre as a vital social, moral and political platform. Engaging in this conversation is integral to who we are. Amplifying voices of color on our stages is vital to becoming a more compassionate and inclusive society, and can play a role in eradicating the systems of injustice, oppression, and racism.
As an organization, we have made some great strides in recent years in producing work by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists but we know we can do more. We acknowledge that past and present BIPOC Playhouse staff members were the driving force behind those strides. We also acknowledge and apologize for some of the colossal missteps along the way that have hurt communities of color.
We will be vigilant in taking responsibility for our part in the conversation about race and social justice. We will continue to engage in meaningful dialogue with communities of color. As we resume our previously-scheduled Digital WOW and Education programming, we are making actionable plans to make our institution a more diverse, mission-driven theatre that gives further voice to BIPOC artists, staff and audiences.
The people of La Jolla Playhouse stand in support of our Black community of artists, staff, patrons, and friends, as well as those from all communities who are plagued by racism and bigotry. It will continue to be our mission to provide a safe harbor for artists to tell stories that inspire empathy and create a dialogue toward a more just future, but we acknowledge there is still work to be done.
We recognize this moment in our country as the result of prolonged and systematic injustice against Black bodies. The recent senseless acts of violence against George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and so many more, at the hands of those who have sworn to protect and serve all citizens, should be a concern for all people. No one should have to live in fear, especially fear of those who we call upon to keep us safe.
We as individuals and as an institution are imperfect. We are learning from our mistakes by listening to the community we serve. We are doing what we can as an institution, and we will continue to do more. But at this time, we as individuals are more powerful than any institution. Many of us at La Jolla Playhouse are overwhelmed by feelings of frustration, anger, sadness and helplessness, but we will not let that immobilize us.
In seeking guidance from members of the Black community, here are a few things we heard and are committed to doing:
In an effort to respect and give space to the needs of our community at this time, we are postponing the release of any new Digital WOW content until a time when our artists and audiences feel comfortable working again in the intimate, immersive space that WOW performances offer. We remain committed to sharing this work with you when the timing is right.
Be well, be safe, be vigilant.