Introducing: The Vision for Equity at Side Door
Welcome to the inaugural blog post from the Side Door Justice Working Group (a subcommittee of the Side Door staff: Laura Simpson [she/her], Leigh Brown [she/they], Gianna Lalonde[she/they]). We have been working on building equity and anti-racism into company culture and policy, and we are committed to sharing our journey with you through a series of forthcoming blog posts! Thanks for being here.
The vision for Side Door is to promote closer connections between people and art in their communities. Our mission is to create a thriving ecosystem for live performance by providing Artists with sustainable revenue streams and meaningful shows, directly connecting Hosts and Presenters with talent, and giving Guests access to memorable entertainment.
At Side Door, we understand that the path to an equitable platform and community includes elevating underrepresented voices, providing a welcoming environment where communities are empowered to succeed, fostering a diverse team and user base, and being committed to anti-racist ethos and practice within the structure of the organization.
The Side Door team has been working toward developing a strategic plan outlining short-term and long-term goals for equity, diversity, and inclusion at the company to ensure we are meeting everyone where they’re at. This is the beginning of our journey of an ongoing commitment to creating an equitable community and company.
At Side Door, we have committed, as individuals and as a company, to foster an ecosystem that feels powerfully invitational. By holding the global majority at the forefront of our work, we believe that art and community can thrive. We acknowledge that historically, mainstream traditional live performance spaces have, at times, been isolating or even oppressive to marginalized groups, trauma survivors, people with disabilities or substance abuse disorders, etc. We must do better.
We also acknowledge that the roots of the entertainment industry were developed within a construct that accepted misogyny, white supremacy, patriarchal power, and systemic racism as unavoidable norms. At Side Door, we believe in centering the needs of the oppressed to foster a more balanced marketplace within which equity, transparency, empathy, and creativity can flourish.
How Side Door is staying true to our vision:
Annual anti-racist training and education for permanent and contract staff;
Formation of the Justice Working Group sub-committee - this group works together to create safer spaces for under-represented communities on the Side Door team, on the platform, in the shows, and in the live performance industry. Activities include anti-oppression education from outside facilitators, building anti-racist company policies and procedures, and working to strengthen the Side Door community’s capacity to uplift under-represented voices;
Signed the BDRB pledge and have participated in CIMA/BDRB ongoing workshops;
Participated in Anti-Racist Theatre Training Levels 1 and 2 with Nicole Brewer;
Engaged EDI consultant Allison Outhit to review the company strategic plan, supervise revisions of company actions and goals, and have been gradually implementing the action items.
Our strategic plan short-term action items:
Create a section of the blog dedicated to updating the public about our EDI work (hello!);
Formalize this work as part of the contractual duties of the Projects and Partnerships Manager Gianna Lalonde (hello again!);
Create a budget line and dedicate finances to helping reach EDI goals;
Prioritize diverse representation with any new or ongoing projects, curatorial programming, or subsidies;
Host a safer spaces educational event for Side Door Hosts by the end of 2022;
Review Employee Handbook against best practise and legislation;
Prioritize equity-seeking groups when hiring staff and contract positions - any forthcoming hiring will focus on supporting those new folks and being transparent about our journey;
Conduct one-on-one employee meetings to establish what their EDI performance targets can be and how they will be assessed;
Embed voluntary demographic data collection for users, so Side Door can learn more about the needs and identity of users, which will impact longer-term goals;
Survey related equity and sovereignty-seeking communities to understand their needs in the live performance ecosystem.
We will update the blog with our learnings as we approach each action item. Our objectives are for cultural competency to have increased among the team and users, the feedback from equity-seeking groups to be reflected in all our services, demographic data results to show increased participation, and for the team to meet EDI performance targets. We believe these benchmarks are measurable and realistic.
We understand this is ongoing work critical in every step we take as individuals and as a company. We are open to all feedback, so please send us a note at email@example.com if you want to comment on anything you see here.
Thank you to all our educators and facilitators who have supported us in our journey. And thank YOU for reading.
Gianna & the Side Door Justice Working Group