A Message to the Community 8/14/19
Dear Community Members,
We are gratified to announce the recent settlements of suits brought against Children’s Theatre Company by six individuals who were sexually abused by the former artistic director and two former employees, in the 1970s. The legal process for other plaintiffs is ongoing and we will continue to work toward resolutions that provide healing and justice.
In the meantime, earlier this month we at Children’s Theatre Company issued a statement—published concurrently with other Twin Cities performing arts leaders—affirming our commitment to join with the artistic community to combat and redress sexual assault and child abuse at CTC and in all the artistic institutions of our greater community.
A theatre’s purpose is to serve its community. Not only does the CTC of today and tomorrow have no place for abuse of any kind, we pledge to uphold the values of our community to the highest standard.
Like so many of you, we choose to work at and serve CTC because of our love of theatre and to help foster that same connection in the children of our community—to spark joy through art and performance. Any kind of abuse of children is abhorrent and goes against our core values.
To all of our artists, teaching artists, and staff at CTC: We reaffirm to you our commitment to address these historic wrongs, and are working on a significant list of action items both for now and the future. While some of our planned actions cannot be taken until legal proceedings conclude, others can and will begin immediately.
Here are just a few of our upcoming actions and events:
- Training and education To begin, we are enhancing our Adult Youth Engagement Policy training to include acknowledgement of the sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s by employees, as well as the changes CTC has made, as context for all our current employees and volunteers. We will also reinforce how to intervene and report any known or suspected abuse as well as provide a significant list of supplementary resources. All current and new CTC staff and volunteers will be given an annual training that puts our child safety practices in historical context. Child actors and parents of child actors will also be made aware of this history when reviewing CTC policies, and will be given additional resources explaining how they can also report known or suspected abuse. The full Adult Youth Engagement Policy will be made available on our website. We plan to continue to strengthen it in every way possible, and share it as broadly as possible, because we believe every theatre should have access to these or similar policies.
- A community council assembled by theatre artist Shá Cage, and artist and community organizer Ricardo Levins Morales, has begun a discussion of ways CTC and the community can move forward to healing and justice. CTC leadership is part of this council and we welcome the opportunity to work together with the community, which will share the outcomes and action steps that arise from these conversations.
- An open forum, which invites the community to a conversation with CTC leadership, including members of its Board, will be held on September 16 from 5-7 p.m. at CTC. We hope that concerned members of our community will join us at this forum, where, in dialogue, we can discuss additional ways that CTC can help community healing and begin the critical work of rebuilding. Please RSVP by emailing [email protected].
- A three-part speakers series will be presented this season featuring national voices focused on the prevention of child abuse, survivor support, and ways the arts can help in healing trauma. Our goal is to offer information, resources and ideas to advance the work happening in our community. Dates and details will be forthcoming.
To those survivors who have shared their stories with us: We are so profoundly sorry. Your courage in sharing your abuse has challenged us to think more creatively about the strategies by which we can support and honor you.
You have inspired other survivors of sexual abuse to share their experiences with all of us. Your voices have brought this issue to the fore, and our community has been enlightened and forever changed as a result.
You have also inspired us. CTC is committed to establishing a Survivor Fund once the legal cases are all settled. This fund will represent one aspect of a new legacy for CTC—one that supports and honors survivors as well as the broader community for many years to come. Our vision for this fund is communal, survivor-centered, and restorative. We want to be thoughtful and inclusive, so we invite survivors and all members of the community to contribute your ideas to [email protected].
We are also committed to working with community leaders and practitioners who already engage in this work. Three weeks ago, CTC presented a check for $17,077 to EmpowerSurvivors, an organization that provides direct healing support and education for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and trauma. The donation is equivalent to a sold-out performance on June 16th of Matilda. We will continue exploring partnerships with organizations whose missions support survivors of sexual abuse as well as the prevention of child abuse. Our Director of Community Partnerships and Inclusion will be developing these over the fall.
We understand that it is not enough to unequivocally condemn child abuse today. We have to commit to healing and long-term growth, and we recognize we cannot do it alone.
We value the survivors whose stories help shape our actions.
We value the artists, theatre artists, and staff who will help guide us.
We value the organizations and institutions who are already committed to healing and justice, whose partnership will teach us.
We value our community who supports and encourages us.
We, at all levels of the organization, honor and are humbled by the strength, courage, and perseverance of those who have survived this or any kind of abuse.
We value your ideas, thoughts, comments, and questions. Please share them with us at [email protected].
Chair, Board of Directors
Peter C. Brosius