Thursday, July 1, 5:00 PM
Dear New Haven Community,
I am writing on behalf of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas with an update on the actions we have taken since June 18, when Black musicians experienced unprofessional and harmful treatment from Festival staff. Artists were kept waiting an unacceptable length of time for soundcheck and felt disrespected and unwelcome to perform. I want to thank the artists again for their courage in speaking out and holding the Festival accountable.
We are committed to transparency as we not only formally investigate this incident, but undertake deep, ongoing work to dismantle white supremacy within the Festival’s culture and organizational structure.
First, I want to address two concerns that we have heard from the New Haven community in response to our statement in the June 24 Arts Paper:
The treatment Black artists experienced on opening night was not an isolated incident that can be addressed by suspending the staff who acted unprofessionally. We recognize that this incident is a symptom of systemic racism and white supremacist culture within the organization. We commit to changing it.
We recognize that statements do not create change. We have the obligation—and the will--to act. Last week, we took immediate action to address the opening night incident, and we are continuing the work of dismantling white supremacy within the organization. I’ve outlined these actions below not in the spirit of self-congratulation, but to hold ourselves accountable to you, and to the change we intend to see at the Festival.
Action steps taken to date to address harm caused by the opening night incident:
Suspended one employee while we investigated the treatment of Black musicians on opening night. Other suspensions are possible as the investigation continues. For legal reasons, we are unable to release confidential details of the HR investigation while it is underway.
Executive Director personally apologized to opening night artists.
Executive Director and leadership are having conversations with the artists willing to discuss their experience.
Compensating artists and other professionals for their consulting time in conversations that are moving the organization forward in its antiracism work.
Issued a public apology via Arts Paper and on the Festival’s website.
Ongoing investigation into the opening night incident.
Engaged HR Consultant to review our policies and offer immediate suggestions.
Communicated with board and staff directly.
On a systemic level, we are revisiting, acting on, and adding to the following public commitments we outlined in 2020.
Within the Festival, we will continue or begin the follow work:
Host moderated anti-racism convenings with permanent and temporary staff that focus on how our anti-racism values should show up in our work, encouraging individual responsibility on how we can embed the work into our everyday practices.
Establish an anti-racist vision for strategic planning that focuses more on how we do the work rather what on what we accomplish, with input from anti-racism coach.
Represent and engage the diversity in the communities of New Haven as our frame for board member recruitment and racially diversify committee leadership positions.
Offer ongoing capacity building for staff including paid consultations and trainings in racial justice with established programs focused on decentering whiteness.
Ensure that staff hired in both temporary and permanent positions are fully aware of and express their support for the Festival’s anti-racism commitments.
Establish a channel for artists and temporary staff to report incidents before, during, and after performances; foster a working environment in which individuals feel safe sharing concerns with Festival leadership.
In the Community, we will both continue and begin to:
Dedicate time and resources to support the visions and leadership of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, South Asian, and People of Color in arts administration and curatorial positions.
Seek out and respond positively to partnership opportunities in the arts and culture sector that align with the anti-racist values and intentions of the Festival.
Develop channels of direct communication with our communities to ensure that we are held accountable in our antiracism work.
Reviewing our practices for welcoming artists into our performances spaces and ensuring that we are meeting their needs
The International Festival of Arts & Ideas recognizes that solidarity is more than just words, and in our commitment to anti-racism we commit to action that de-centers white voices and dismantles white supremacy. The above are the immediate steps we commit to taking in this ongoing work; we will update you on this work as we continue moving toward racial equity.
Above all, we will continue to acknowledge what we do not know and to listen to our community as we strive to do better.
Thank you for holding the Festival accountable.
Shelley Quiala, Executive Director
Thursday, June 24, 3:30 PM
We are committed to transparency as we investigate the mistreatment by crew members of Black musicians who performed at the International Arts and Ideas Festival June 18 opening show.
These are the action steps we have taken so far. We recognize that this is intensive and ongoing work, and we will continue to post updates as they are available.
We have suspended one employee while we investigate. Other suspensions are possible as the investigation continues.
The Festival’s Executive Director Shelley Quiala has reached out to the artists with a personal apology.
Arts & Ideas board and staff have all been notified as well as any artists who have yet to perform at the Festival.
We have engaged an outside consultant to review our HR policies and practices.
We will remain transparent as we continue through the process and will post updates here as they are available.
Thursday, June 24, 9 AM
It has come to our attention that Black musicians who performed at the International Arts and Ideas Festival June 18 opening show experienced unprofessional and harmful treatment from crew members. The production crew was not prepared for the Festival’s opening show; artists were kept waiting an unacceptable length of time for soundcheck and many artists were not offered soundchecks at all; and the artists felt disrespected and not welcome to perform.
The International Festival of Arts & Ideas does not condone, nor does it tolerate, bias-related acts toward any individual or groups. The Festival is committed to anti-racism, and that commitment is about whose stories are told and whose art is honored and resourced--as well as how human beings are treated.
We have opened an investigation and, pending the outcome, will take the necessary action regarding staff and crew. We will remain transparent as we continue through the process and will post updates here as they are available. Thank you for holding the Festival accountable.
Thursday, June 24, 9 AM
Dear New Haven Community,
It has come to our attention that Black musicians who performed at the International Arts and Ideas Festival June 18 opening show experienced unprofessional and harmful treatment from crew members. I am writing to apologize on behalf of the Festival for this unacceptable behavior. The Festival does not condone, nor does it tolerate, bias-related acts toward any individual or groups.
Although I did not witness the aforementioned incidents, I heard the artists when they shared their mistreatment, and I honor the truth of what they name.
We are investigating this situation and we will remain transparent as we continue through the process.
The following was brought to my attention regarding the behavior by the crew and treatment of the artists: the production crew was not prepared for the Festival’s opening show; artists were kept waiting an unacceptable length of time for soundcheck and many artists were not offered soundchecks at all; and the artists felt disrespected and not welcome to perform.
I understand the decision by some artists to leave the Green and the resulting hurt and anger felt by those who stayed and performed. Individuals who demonstrate disrespectful behavior denigrate our artists and greater community and undercut the Festival’s mission to promote diversity and inclusion. You deserve better.
We have opened an investigation and, pending the outcome, will take the necessary action regarding staff and crew. Additionally, I will personally reach out to every artist.
The International Festival of Arts & Ideas is committed to anti-racism, and that commitment is about whose stories are told and whose art is honored and resourced--as well as how human beings are treated.
As the Executive Director of the Festival, it is my responsibility to ensure that every staff and crew member exhibits the values that are the foundation of how the organization functions. Trust is an essential component to anti-racism work at the organizational level. This is ongoing work, and I am committed to it.
I value you and your trust. Thank you for holding me and the Festival accountable.
Shelley Quiala, Executive Director