At the core of the Bluecoats Experience is the knowledge that performing arts education programming enriches the lives of young people, and that the Arts improves societies and brings joy to those who consume it. As our programming works to create the Bluecoats Experience, and enrich the lives of our participants and fans, we must acknowledge that our responsibility lies not only in creating great performing arts education experiences, but also in creating a community that endeavors to better itself, supports all people, and disavows the notion that some lives are not as valuable as others.
In the last eleven months, we have been reminded of the grip of systemic and individual racism on our society and in our communities. In May, we committed to not simply disavowing racism, but to advancing an antiracist culture in the Bluecoats Community, and to taking active steps to making our organization a better place. Since then, our Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council has been working on these measures. Recently, this council worked together with the Policy Task Force of our Executive Committee to develop an Anti-Racism Policy that cements our commitment to this idea at the highest level of governance in our organization.
Bluecoats rejects all forms of racism, both individual and systemic, as destructive to our mission. At Bluecoats, we desire to advance an antiracist culture for the entire Bluecoats Community. This includes taking concrete actions and steps to eliminate all expressions of racism within our organization. Together, we will work towards a Bluecoats Community that is more diverse and more accessible to all, and where all voices are equally heard.
– Vision Statement, Anti-Racism Policy (§2.1)
With recent disturbing images of white supremacy on our televisions, this policy takes assertive action to ban “association with [white supremacist and other] hate groups, including the expression of solidarity with, praise for the actions or statements of, or coordination of support for these groups.” We will use the Hate Map™️ published by the Southern Poverty Law Center to define our list of hate groups. (Policy 117 §3.4)
Furthermore, this policy bans hate symbols, including the Confederate Flag, from all Bluecoats programming and events. Because the use of hate symbology is a complex and constantly evolving cultural practice, we will use the Hate On Display™️ database compiled by the Anti Defamation League to define our list of prohibited symbols. (Policy 117 §3.4)
“A central idea of antiracism is taking active steps to eliminate expressions of racism,” said Bryen Warfield, co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council and a member of the Board of Directors. “This policy is an important step in defining how we will proceed in advancing antiracism in both the Bluecoats Community, and the communities of which Bluecoats is a member.”
In addition to banning hate groups and symbols, this policy directs Bluecoats to include discussions about antiracism and discrimination in our curriculum and programming (Policy 117 §3.7), and to work to advance antiracism within the broader communities of which Bluecoats is a member, including Drum Corps International and the Canton and Northeast Ohio areas. (Policy 117 §3.6)