Town Hall Seattle strives to be an inviting place where everyone feels welcomed and represented regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, religion, disability, or class. At the same time, we recognize that structural racism is entrenched throughout U.S. culture and institutions, including our own. Town Hall Seattle has historically been—and is presently—a predominantly white-led organization, and we experience the same outcomes of institutional racism. Therefore, we’ve chosen to address equity through an explicitly (though not exclusively) racial lens. Read our full statement below.
Racial Equity Statement
Town Hall was founded to be an accessible shared resource for our community, envisioned as a space where our city’s diverse voices could present their art and ideas. Over the past twenty years, we’ve matured into an integral piece of civic and creative infrastructure built on the ideals of empathy and partnership. We consider ourselves an instrument of other voices, and we’ve built our reputation on saying “yes” when we’re approached by outside creators. Because of this philosophy of inclusivity, we’ve largely believed that everyone has open access to Town Hall and the marketing and production services we provide.
However, we’ve come to recognize that by being a passive recipient of community ideas, we’ve relied on existing economic, education, and socio-political systems that treat white people as the norm and people of color as “other.” As a result, we’re perpetuating and reinforcing racial inequities in our programs, audiences, and leadership. In order to truly become a place where everyone feels welcome and has equitable access to our stages and the programs presented here, we must intentionally widen our network of collaborators and shift to a proactive, equity-centered approach in our programs and partnerships.
Simply put: we should and will do better.
Town Hall is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization, envisioning a future where we have full participation and shared power with diverse racial, cultural and economic groups in determining all aspects of our work. Although we are focusing on race explicitly, we are not focusing on it exclusively. We understand that many people hold multiple marginalized identities, and we strive for an intersectional approach in our equity work. We also know that structural racism is not easily or quickly dismantled, and we are committed to continual progress toward an organization that models the society we want to live in. As we work to create a Town Hall that is equitable and inclusive to all, we commit to:
- Acknowledging that we are on Coast Salish land and working with Native-led groups on how best to represent that in our physical building and through our programs.
- Assessing and pro-actively programming our self-produced calendar with racial inclusion and anti-racism in mind.
- Hosting a series of 2019-20 public events and workshops designed to offer opportunities for audiences to deepen their own anti-racism education.
- Paying more creators of color to produce Town Hall programs and amplifying the work of communities of color.
- Exploring strategies to offer additional space and production-assistance to communities and creators of color and others who don’t often see themselves reflected in the Seattle arts ecosystem.
- Continuing to disallow hate speech within our programs and within our space.
- Working with racial equity facilitators to inform our ongoing equity work.
- Completing an organization-wide full equity audit during 2019.
- Providing ongoing staff engagement and training, and compensating staff for their energy and time in this work.
- Reassessing our internal and partner policies through a racial equity lens.
- Reporting on our racial equity work and progress as part of our annual report.
- Creating better methodologies for receiving feedback from our partners and community members.
Town Hall always asks for active collaboration with our community, and our commitment to racial equity is no different. We ask you to come with us on this journey and invite you to reach out to us with feedback, ideas, and to hold us accountable. Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.