Commitments & Guidelines to Creating Art, Collaboration, and Community
We, The Sống Collective, recognize that the foundation of American Theatre has been built upon racist, anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, ableist, neurotypical, sexist, ageist, transphobic, exclusionary, capitalist, and oppressive structures. We, as producers and artists, have been trained and conditioned to uphold these structures within the ways we approach our practice.
While we are a POC-led and focused Theatre collective, we recognize the ways in which we have been complicit and will continue to unlearn methods that inhibit prosperous and authentic artistry. We acknowledge the many ways our Asian-American community has been complicit in anti-Blackness. We will continue the work of holding ourselves and our community accountable while offering pathways towards healing and change.
In many ways the following commitments reflect how we have approached our work while acknowledging the many ways in which we have not. This is not a complete list and will be constantly evaluated as we grow. We seek to be transparent and open to all who work with us, view our work, and share space with us. Our experience is not universal. How we speak is ultimately linked with who we are and our individual perspectives, which we welcome to have challenged and changed for the better.
Core Commitments and Beliefs
- We acknowledge and understand that the work of being anti-racist and decolonizing ourselves is an active effort that will require us to dismantle our previous ways of operating, which will be uncomfortable and terrifying, but necessary if we are committing to building a future that is equitable and grounded in love and human rights for all.
- Our work will decenter Whiteness and Western practices
- We will actively move away from oppressive practices rooted in Western culture, White supremacy, and structural racism–we will seek to create our own practices and models of making that prioritize restorative justice and anti-racism.
- We will not prioritize the protection of White fragility.
- Looking inward to think critically and specifically about:
- How we individually and collectively, as Asian Americans, Vietnamese Americans, have benefited from our racial identity and proximity to Whiteness:
- as a culture, community, and artists
- as a system of indoctrination that centers Western/European bodies/thoughts/religion/language/love, etc. as a beginning as a default in our lives and our workplaces.
- We recognize the needs and resources will never be the same for any given event, production, artist, and collaborator. When approaching a project, we will factor the specific and necessary needs unique to each project. There will not be a “copy+paste” approach that creates limits and obstacles to those we work with.
- In addressing the needs of individuals we will look to:
- Financial needs/support
- Parent and caregiver needs/hours
- Accessibility and care in rehearsal and performance spaces
- Scheduling flexibility and mindfulness to prevent burn out and prioritize wellness
- Always re-examining the needs of the room–recognizing that the needs change as the work is being done
- Providing healthcare resources to aid in that process (mental health experts, therapy options, creating practices that encourage taking time to step away from difficult content, healing circles)
Solidarity and Partnerships
- Solidarity is NOT transactional. Our liberation is not possible without the collective liberation of all oppressed folx.
- Uncompromisingly centering the experiences, leadership, and voices of: Black, Indigenous, women, trans, gnc, queer, refugee, (im)migrant, undocumented, sex-workers, and other marginalized folx who are most impacted by the far-reaching tentacles of white supremacy and heteropatriarchy.
- We must have an unflinching commitment to calling out misogynoir, racism, classism, transphobia, homophobia, queerphobia, fatphobia, and White supremacy in ALL its forms, especially within our theater community.
- We start by acknowledging that there is a long hxstory of invisible and unrecognized labor and organization by Black women, trans and queer folx, Indigenous folx, mothers that has laid the groundwork for us to be here at this present juncture.
- We will opt to always center our work on our community, communities of color, oppressed folx, and those marginalized by the mainstream including but not limited to our collective history, intersectionality amongst our groups, our pain (which will lead to healing), our triumphs, our humanity, our multiple identities, and our JOY.
- By standing with the Black community, we will consider how our work can support and uplift them, as well as how the Asian American community has been anti-Black. We will strive to uplift the pathways that lead us to a place of healing between Black and Asian communities.
- We will constantly examine how the work and artists we collaborate/engage with may perpetuate anti-Blackness and oppression and how our relationship with said entities will or will not continue.
- We will uplift work that brings into focus the intersectionality between Asians and Asian Americans with our fellow oppressed communities. We acknowledge our shared hxstories of trauma, the pains we have traded back and forth, and look at how we can work to repair and heal with each other.
- We commit to practicing Land Acknowledgements to bring into focus settler colonialism and how we are living and benefiting from stolen lands. We acknowledge that land acknowledgements are not enough and do not absolve us of any harm we do by perpetuating colonialism. We will work to find a multitude of actions that will uplift and bring attention to Indigenous communities.
- We will maintain a standard of transparency surrounding our decisions, operations, and practices.
- We invite criticism and feedback from all, opening dialogue with our community and continuing on a path of growth as we continue our mission of service
- We shall extend this level of accountability to the organizations and individuals in gatekeeping positions and within the industrial complex of theatre. We will speak out against oppression and injustices perpetuated, brought to light, and experienced within our industry. We stand strong with fellow artists and communities in holding oppressors accountable.
- We acknowledge that we do not know everything and will exhibit oppressive behavior that has been ingrained within us. We will be open to new information, adjusting once receiving said information, and continuing to learn/unlearn. We, as leaders of this organization, commit to continuing our self education and we will challenge ourselves to sit in and unravel our discomforts.
- We commit to constantly reaching towards the younger and upcoming generations of artists/theatre makers to provide opportunities.
- We will make our work accessible to students through partnerships, resources, pricing, flexible time commitments, and active engagement.
- We will continue to operate off a sliding scale pricing system and will work to find sustainable ways to keep our events and projects accessible for all audiences.
Reducing Carbon Footprints
- We see environmental racism and the devastating effects it has on oppressed communities. We not only speak to the need of reducing our carbon footprints for the sake of preserving the lands we inhabit, but as well as the need to address how it affects those most vulnerable.
- We will actively move towards sustainable practices not limited to and including focuses on recycling both at gatherings and rehearsals, reducing over-printing and waste, how to better provide tools and education on the effects of our industry on the environment.
- We will continue the implementation and growth of how we use digital programs with future focuses on accessibility for those without access to technology and in need of visual assistance.