A letter to our community

From our October 19, 2020 newsletter

  

To my community:

This is an incredibly challenging time. Everyone I know is grappling with how to navigate the current extreme uncertainty, and in many cases experiencing excruciating losses of income, home, human connection, health, and the lives of loved ones. Within the performing arts, we are facing losses expected to total 50% or more of personnel, organizations, and resources.

It was only in the last year that Control Group stopped feeling like a precarious, quixotic endeavor bound to crash the moment I looked away. I’m incredibly grateful for the growth we achieved over the last four years, which I fervently hope will carry us through this crisis intact. Over the last seven months I have worked hard to meet my most urgent responsibilities: keeping my family and community safe, taking care of my collaborators and fellow artists in any way I can, and navigating Control Group through these intertwining crises so that we can continue to serve and support our community.

During this time, our Board of Directors has engaged in a listening process with members of our professional community, responding to this summer’s emergent social justice movement and to specific concerns about Control Group’s role and responsibilities in our community. To everyone who participated in this process thus far, thank you for taking the time to share your experience and perspective, and thank you for your patience as we’ve continued to gather and digest feedback and begin to set a new trajectory.

The feedback we’ve received doesn’t boil down to a single issue or a simple solution. Some concerns have straightforward remedies of better policies, communication, and transparency. Other parts of this process will require life-long effort and ongoing vigilance. Many issues are bound up with intractable systemic inequities, where we need to push against existing standards and structures to create change. Parts of the feedback pertain to personal behavior of mine, revealing deficits of personality and integrity that are difficult to acknowledge and to repair.

I am galvanized to pursue positive change in myself and in my artistic and organizational leadership with all of the rigor and creativity that I bring to the rest of my work at Control Group. I am committed to doing everything I can to undo racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of oppression within our organization and across our community. We are pursuing this with urgency, and with the knowledge that this will require long-term effort.

  

Consequently, the following are by no means the final steps we intend, but they are the next steps that we will take to better fulfill our responsibilities and potentials within our shared community:

· We are working to create a higher standard of safety, accessibility, and inclusiveness in our working environments and public events. This yearlong process will involve consultations with Majestic Collaborations (Event Emergency Preparedness), Regan Byrd (Anti-Oppression), Phamaly Theatre (Accessibility), and advisors and colleagues in our community, leading to the creation of an Intersectional Emergency Preparedness Plan. Read more here.

· We are working to advance organizational practices and community standards around contracts, compensation, and artistic license. We’re continuing to increase artist fees and allocate 75%+ of our operating budget for personnel, implementing citation and permission policies, and working with a legal advisor to draft anti-oppressive mutual-benefit contract templates.

· We are working to offer greater transparency (and hopefully a useful resource to other artists) by publishing economic profiles (like this from jumatatu m. poe) of Control Group and my personal financial situation. This will include budgets, contract templates, metrics for artist fees, and breakdowns of how resources are allocated and used.

· For each of the areas above, we will create public open-source documents or templates available for other artists and organizations to adapt and adopt. We will soon be announcing 2021 programming that reflects these values and efforts.

· We are developing a comprehensive Values Statement around equity, inclusiveness, collaboration, power dynamics, and other features of our work. Informed by the steps listed above, this will correlate with similarly comprehensive policies that support more vibrant and impactful delivery of those values.

· As we grow our Board membership and re-staff in the wake of our Associate Directors’ recent departure, we’ll maintain a primary focus on bringing diversity of perspectives and experiences to Control Group’s leadership circle.

· Within our collaborative creative practice, I am bringing renewed focus to how we cultivate high-trust working environments that honor every artists’ identity and contributions to our shared work. This includes strengthening our dialog and conflict resolution pathways, using the Rocky Mountain Artist Safety Alliance document (which I participated in developing).

· Across all areas of my life, I am engaged in the serious work needed to change interpersonal habits that harm the people around me. I’m working to manage and metabolize stress, set reasonable expectations, communicate clearly, and build sturdy platforms of patience, empathy, and respect. I’m happy to share more about this work upon request.

· Based on responses to our community dialog process, I am offering apologies and engaging in further reparative dialog with specific community members.

  

We see these as valuable first steps toward meeting our community with greater respect and empathy, addressing issues within our organization and our community, and mobilizing Control Group as a voice for the values we stand for. We welcome feedback and dialog now and as we move forward through these steps, and we look forward to sharing our progress and further fruits of this labor with you as we continue this work.

  

Yours in fellowship,

Patrick Mueller
Artistic Director
patrick@controlgroupproductions.org

 

 

 

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