The Jessie Richardson
With the shut down and closures of theatres and theatre productions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jessies have paused the start of the new jurying season which was due to begin on May 1, 2020. It has become clear that the disruption of our theatre industry is going to continue for some time and it has also become clear that this forced pause has actually gifted the Jessies the time and space it needs to step back and take a look at how we serve the community and how we could improve this service moving forward. As such, the Jessie Review Committee has recommended to the Jessies Board that we officially suspend the 2020-2021 Jessie season and use the time to re-evaluate and possibly re-structure to serve the community better in seasons to come.
The Jessie Richardson Award Society has been listening carefully, with open hearts and open minds, to all that has been bravely shared by our community members in recent months, with particular attention to ongoing systemic racism. We recognize that there are members of our community who do not feel represented and celebrated by the current structure of the Jessie Awards. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is committed to working toward ensuring we are serving the broader community in a more inclusive and equitable manner.
Undertaking major changes at the Jessies requires time, energy, and money. As a volunteer-run, non-profit society, our current structure results in a limitation of these resources. In light of current restrictions including bans on gathering in groups, we are pausing the Jessie Awards for a season. This pause will provide us with the necessary time and space to devote our Board’s attention to the re-evaluation and re-shaping of our role within the community.
Within our current (and limited) budget we have hired an equity consultant to guide us in the coming year’s process. Moving forward, the Jessie Richardson Award Society will establish a structure that incorporates important steps such as mandatory annual anti-racist and anti-bias training for all of its board and jury members. We have also struck a provisional Restructuring Committee from our volunteer board to begin outreach to community members who have been vocal in their willingness to have these conversations with us, as well as to find the funds necessary to support this important work.
We value the voices of our community who are calling for change, and ask that those willing complete the short survey here: https://forms.gle/zy7LccZYm4WLTngx9.
This will help us in the collection of important data, ideas, and thoughts to guide our future efforts. If you have anything further to share with us beyond the scope of this survey, please don’t hesitate to write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you and doing this work together.