Early on in the pandemic, as the world roiled from protests against racism and police violence, CAP UCLA, like many traditionally white-dominated cultural organizations, did some serious soul-searching. Members of CAP UCLA’s staff, in collaboration with colleagues from UCLA’s Theater Management Services, formed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee to challenge complacency and focus on issues of structural power. They’ve met regularly ever since, working on making CAP UCLA and TMS more inclusive and equitable experiences for both staff and audiences.
As the value statement the EDI committee drafted puts it, “We must empower the historically underrepresented. We must uplift excluded voices. We must resist structural racism. We will commit fiercely to our responsibility to observe, absorb, consider, contemplate, endure, share and engage in this change.”
Much of this change happens backstage, long before the audience enters a theater. But we hope that CAP UCLA’s commitment to this important work is on display in our newly announced Fall/Winter programming. For example, the trouble of even defining “we” is tackled in the new Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company choreographic piece What Problem?, which explores the work of collective redemption and the tensions of belonging. Our programming also includes a diverse array of musicians, such as Grammy Award-winning artists Antonio Sánchez and Cécile McLorin Salvant. We are dedicated to presenting artistic performance that reflects the global, evolving nature of our city.
In a few days it will be Juneteenth, a celebration of the legal emancipation of enslaved Black Americans at the end of the Civil War. But that victory was only a partial one, and the lingering incompleteness of Reconstruction still haunts American politics and society. CAP UCLA hopes that the programs we present and the work that we do can contribute, in some small way, to this long overdue process of social healing.