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 nine 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: https://northernskytheater.com/dei-rider/
- 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.
- 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.
- In December of 2021, Christine Saldanha became the first person of color to join Northern Sky’s Board of Directors. Recruiting new board members with diverse perspectives continues to be a priority of the Board of Directors.
- In 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 centered on the development of new voices to expand our circle of playwrights. The position also assists with marketing and IDEAS work.
- We are partnering with Door County Summer Horizons for a second 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. We look forward to having another teen from this program join our box office team.
- During 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.
This IDEAS In Action list will be updated as progress in our work continues.