Appalshop News

Statement on Former Staffer’s Essay

10 months ago

August 6, 2021

In an August 4, 2021 essay published on Medium, Amy Brooks recounts her time as an employee of Roadside Theater and Appalshop.

Appalshop has spent several years in deep reflection about our internal culture, humbled by how many current and former members of the Appalshop community have generously contributed to our path forward.

While we dispute some of Amy Brooks’ narrative about her time at Roadside Theater and Appalshop, we acknowledge that Appalshop has a lot of work to do. We commend Amy for sharing her experiences, and we are grateful for her commitment to ensuring our workplace embodies the values we espouse — truth, justice, equity and inclusion. We welcome input from all our partners as we continue to make Appalshop’s culture more reflective of our values.

In the years since Amy’s contract ended, Appalshop has taken significant steps toward building the restorative justice she calls for — restorative justice that our community desires and deserves. Like many non-profits, Appalshop has had to reckon with our past shortcomings as we welcome a new generation of leaders from across our community. We are immensely proud of the team of people at Appalshop who have been moving us forward, including our executive director and the new leadership of Roadside, and we acknowledge how much work remains to be done.

We continue our rebuilding now by transparently sharing a few of the specific steps that we are already implementing:

  • Recruiting and supporting the next generation of Appalshop leaders, who are knowledgeable about the transgressions of the past and committed to building a better future, including a complete transition of leadership within both Roadside Theater and Roadside’s Performing Our Future coalition.
  • Hiring an Operations Director to create and oversee H.R. structures within Appalshop.
  • Contracting with Equity Quotient to conduct an internal equity evaluation of the institution.
  • Creating a permanent Employee Rights and Benefits Subcommittee of the Appalshop Board.
  • Creating a permanent Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Subcommittee of the Appalshop Board with unique authority to create policies ensuring equitable reception and response to staff concerns.
  • Restructuring Roadside Theater to better embody Roadside’s values of equitable ensemble collaboration.
  • Issuing a statement of accountability and transparency to national partners and funders regarding the nature of the leadership transition at Roadside Theater.
  • Collaborating with the Performing Our Future coalition delegations to tell a complete version of the coalition’s origin story, which is as of yet untold.
  • Contracting with regional educators who possess expertise in gender-based power dynamics to build institutional culture.
  • Training Roadside Theater leadership in the principles and practices of Intimacy Choreography for all future Roadside Theater productions.
  • Hosting conversation with our local and regional theater partners to identify how Appalshop might better build trust and positive culture in our region.
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