Ideas in Action | Northern Sky Theater

Ideas in Action

Sunflowered Wisconsin Gal

Northern Sky’s IDEAS in Action

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Solutions (IDEAS)

This list uses the acronym BIPOC for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

  • In 2017 Northern Sky began proactively inviting diverse artists into our audition process.  This intentional work toward building relationships with new artists has allowed us to have a modest level of BIPOC representation in eleven of our recent world premieres over the past six seasons.
  • Though onstage BIPOC representation is key, because that is how audiences can experience inclusive storytelling, we are also actively seeking diverse artists in all areas of the company. In the past three seasons, we have expanded our circle of collaborators to include BIPOC artists in the following positions: stage manager, assistant stage manager, costume designer, sound designer, logo designer, audio technician, and three director/choreographers. Continuing to engage BIPOC artists in leadership positions is a priority.
  • In 2019 we held a first reading of a new work entitled Sunflowered, co-written by Lachrisa Grandberry and Aidaa Peerzada. This marked Northern Sky’s first reading of a script by Black authors. Development continued on the show for a four-year period, allowing an opportunity for us to engage with several new BIPOC artists at each stage of development. The piece premiered in the Gould Theater in the fall of 2022 to much critical acclaim and was called “groundbreaking” by critic Warren Gerds.
  • In fall of 2020, Northern Sky sponsored five artists in a writing course with the History Theater in Minneapolis entitled Living Through History. This was an affinity space, which in this case was a space offered exclusively for Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color. The writers found the course so fulfilling that they all signed on for a second round. Four of the authors sponsored now have a play-in-progress in our new works pipeline.
  • In February of 2021, staff drafted a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Rider that we incorporated into our Code of Conduct that must be signed by all Northern Sky employees. The DEI portion of the Code can be found here:
  • In March of 2021, Northern Sky began The Writing Circle, organized and led by Lachrisa Grandberry. Inspired by the History Theater program, this continued to be an affinity space and was a decision to actively invest in BIPOC authors. This was effectively the beginning of NOVA, though we did not know it yet.
  • During Spring of 2021 Doc Heide worked with staff and trusted references to craft our Land Acknowledgement, honoring the indigenous peoples of the land on which we work and live.
  • In August of 2021, Northern Sky hosted The Writing Circle for an in-person 3-day retreat in Door County. It was a time of overwhelmingly positive engagement.
  • December of 2021, Christine Saldanha became the first person of color to join Northern Sky’s Board of Directors. The nominating committee considers recruiting new board members with diverse perspectives as a priority going forward.
  • November of 2022, Lachrisa Grandberry accepted the position of Director of NOVA Programming. NOVA stands for Nurturing Original Voices and Artists. The position is focused on all things “next generation,” with the main duties focused on the development of new voices to expand our circle of playwrights. The position also assists with marketing and IDEAS work.
  • February of 2023, we convened an IDEAS Task Force, made up of both board members and staff, to continue the work of fostering inclusion, diversity, equity, and access solutions in all aspects of our organization.
  • In Spring of 2023 we began working with DEI specialist Erica Lynette Edwards. Erica works frequently with arts groups and she led our Board, Staff, and Company members in Guided Conversations to promote inclusion and belonging in all aspects of our work.
  • Spring of 2023, we updated and expanded our Guidelines for Collaboration to be inclusive of IDEAS efforts.
  • To welcome more local BIPOC families to visit Northern Sky, we developed a 2023 Summer Season Family Comp Ticket (good for up to 8 people.) These comps were distributed to select organizations to share with their employees. The trial year was productive and we will expand the program in 2024.
  • In August of 2023 we held a first reading of a new play by Jamie Mercado, The Cherry Hill Bookshop. The show centers a Filipino family spanning three generations. Jamie began with Writing Circle in its earliest iterations. Her participation, and the show she’s written in the circle, is a direct reflection of NOVA’s primary goals–expanding creative opportunities for BIPOC and emerging writers, and cultivating stories from new perspectives for our pipeline. This reading engaged four BIPOC actors from across Door County’s theater community and was a high point of that summer’s reading series.
  • We are partnering with Door County Summer Horizons for a third season. This is a summer employment program for teens from Milwaukee. The program brings a diverse group of students to Door County’s summer workforce. A teen from this program will join our box office team. The student assigned to us in year one of the program is proudly returning for his third season as a company member.
  • We made updates to our Land Acknowledgment in 2024 and crafted an introductory paragraph to provide context for the importance of the acknowledgment as it relates to the craft of storytelling.
  • Our NOVA program is offering two six-week Writing Circles for BIPOC authors to get to know Northern Sky, in spring and fall of 2024. The spring circle had nine authors. Five of the participants have submitted pitches of show ideas that will be reviewed.
  • We added information on our website to uplift our longtime sponsor Oneida Nation and promote their 50th Anniversary Pow Wow.
  • Spring of 2024, Task Force members trained with Erica Lynnette Edwards to facilitate Guided Conversations on inclusion and belonging. These conversations are now held on the first day of rehearsal as a part of our regular rituals and welcome process.
  • We added physical postings of our Land Acknowledgment to both of our venues in 2024. These physical postings include a QR code that can take patrons to a link tree of more resources for further learning opportunities.
  • On June 22, 2024 we are honored to host Weeya Calif and Stephenie Muscavitch VanEvery at the Peninsula State Park Amphitheater for a special storytelling event. This opportunity is free and open to the public. The event will invite the audience to step into the mesmerizing and enchanting world of Native American storytelling as these esteemed storytellers weave a rich tapestry of traditional tales.

This IDEAS In Action list will be updated as progress in our work continues.