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Strawdog Theatre Company Accountability Statement

Strawdog Theatre Company has been proud to be a prominent fixture in the Chicago Storefront Theatre Community for over 30 years. We have shared hundreds of bold, dynamic stories with our community through our signature ensemble-approach. Throughout our history we have attempted to give you the whole wide world in a little black box.’

Today we wholeheartedly admit that we have fallen quite short of that goal.

We have missed opportunities to tell and amplify the stories and voices of our fellow BIPOC artists and Chicago community. We have allowed ourselves to be distracted from our past diversity initiatives. We have listened, heard and we have failed to act. 

Our failure to act ends now.

The people of Strawdog Theatre Company – Our Ensemble, Our Staff, Our Board – stand firmly against racism and our complicity in the historical silence that perpetuates it. We acknowledge our privilege, our biases, and the societal systems that have allowed us to be a mostly white theatre company in Chicago for over thirty years. We pledge to root out the systemic weeds of racism in our organization and actively cultivate a future of Antiracism in our community. ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER. As we move forward, we will amplify and advocate for our fellow BIPOC Artists and theatre professionals.

We are recommitting to our core values of ENSEMBLE, COMMUNITY, CHALLENGE and GENUINE CONNECTION by infusing them with the value of ANTIRACISM.

We are currently setting goals and timelines related to:

  • Internal Antiracist/Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training/education
  • Revising our DEI Standards and Code of Conduct
  • Reviewing and updating our core values. 
  • Building an equitable BIPOC presence in our ensemble, staff, board and on our stages/production teams
  • Increasing programming of BIPOC-centered stories
  • Providing transparency regarding our funding, board affiliations, salaries, hiring and budgets
  • Devising more humane, inclusive production schedules to promote accessibility
  • Investigating ways we can change our budgeting model to improve compensation for artists/collaborators
  • Connecting our anti racist work to our current audience and community while cultivating a BIPOC audience and community

We will publish updates - including actionable, measurable steps - on this page as soon as possible. We hope you will visit this space frequently to share your thoughts, ideas and feedback as we bring our ensemble-approach to this vital community work. We invite you to hold us accountable. We invite you to join us in this work as we establish our goals, carry out our initiatives and; most importantly, bring illumination and amplification of the WHOLE wide world.

Send feedback, thoughts, ideas here:

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Note: This statement is in direct response to the call for anti racist work in theater organizations. We also continue to be committed to addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion relating to gender parity, the LGBTQIA+ community, and all other marginalized groups.

STEPS TAKEN - Accountability Update - January 2021

It is our intent to be transparent regarding what we are doing and where we are headed with regards to this work. While there is much more work to be done, this past year we have made the following steps towards our goals:

  • We increased diversity in our company management by appointing new leaders in the roles of Artistic Director (Kamille Dawkins who is a Black immigrant, artist, actor, writer, filmmaker and ensemble member) and Board President (Michael Reyes who is an Asian American actor and ensemble member). 
  • We added seven new ensemble members in 2020. Representation of theater-makers who are Black, Latinx and Asian in our ensemble is now at twenty-percent. Our goal is to increase the representation in our ensemble of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and others identifying as Persons of Color to a majority over the next five years - as to be reflective of our Chicago community. A more complete list of goals and actions items is forthcoming. 
  • We have a renewed focus on cultural competency and equity in our casting process. Our Casting Director, who identifies as a Person of Color, has revamped our casting policies which prioritize diversity and accessibility. She has created an online database which includes categories for those artists who choose to self-identify. In an effort to make auditions more cost and time effective for all actors, audition materials such as headshots and resumes are now submitted and stored digitally in the database. For general and initial auditions, actors will be given the option to submit a self-tape in lieu of attending in person, with the exception made for callbacks - which we intend to be in person, if at all possible, once we are able to return to theatres.
  • We are supporting and raising the visibility of neighboring organizations that serve our Chicagoland community and promote social justice. A portion of proceeds from each of this season’s productions are being shared with Lakeview Pantry (RUN THE BEAST DOWN), The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS) and Black Lives Matter Chicago (HOW WE NAVIGATE SPACE).
  • We drafted and adopted a Native Land Acknowledgement that reflects a meaningful connection to our work and values - to be shared any time we gather.
  • Our new Board is in the process of adapting our business model, with a particular focus on equitable pay for our artists and collaborators. We believe that our budget is a moral document. 
  • We eliminated the 10/12 tech day to promote rehearsal experiences that are more humane and accessible. 
  • We updated our Standards/Code of Conduct document, shared during all productions, with the goal of creating a positive and safe experience for our artists and collaborators. This document outlines expectations and provides a system for reporting any instances of disrespect, discrimination, harassment or physical danger. Strawdog would like to acknowledge the foundational work from Not in Our House on the Chicago Theatre Standards. 
  • We have launched an internal company-wide, antiracist program focused on self-reflection, discussion and education. In 2021, we are scheduling an anti-racist training led by an outside facilitator.
  • We created the Accountability page on our website to aid transparency and welcome feedback.

A more complete list of goals and future action items related to this work is forthcoming. We welcome your thoughts, ideas and feedback here: