The Dramatists Guild of America Releases New Inclusion Rider for Theatre

Christine Toy Johnson. Photo by Bruce Johnson

The Dramatists Guild of America has released its first ever Inclusion Rider. As part of its commitment to fostering a more equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist industry, the Guild has crafted this Inclusion Rider as a resource to support all dramatists and producers who have a desire to exercise these principles in the hiring of personnel involved in their productions.

“We are thrilled to be rolling out the first Inclusion Rider of its kind, which advocates for full diversity and full inclusion in theatres of all sizes and locations across the country,” stated Christine Toy Johnson, DG Treasurer and Chair of the Guild’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. “By providing this voluntary resource and tool to our members, the Guild hopes to provide an effective option for writers to use to ensure that our value systems are aligned with our producing collaborators and that our authorial rights to assemble our creative teams and casts are upheld. We remain committed to finding ways in which to foster an industry that is reflective and respectful of the entirety of our population and to create a more complete and authentic landscape of storytelling.”

This Inclusion Rider is intended to be a model addendum that will enable dramatists who choose to employ it to work with their producer to audition or interview, cast, and hire members of historically excluded groups wherever possible. Intended to facilitate a conversation between the theatre writer and the producer about equitable hiring practices, this rider may be attached to any agreement with a producer or theatre who intends to produce one’s play or musical. It includes hiring objectives for cast, crew, creative team, and artistic personnel, as well as recommended best practices for how to conduct auditions and interviews.

“I am so proud of the work the Dramatists Guild’s legal staff and our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee have done to create this Inclusion Rider. It is a meaningful step towards true equity in theatre, empowering theatre writers to use our rights of hiring approval to advocate for fuller diversity and inclusion throughout our industry,” noted DG Council President Amanda Green. “Encompassing all historically excluded communities and available to all our members, it can be used for productions not only on Broadway and NYC, but around the country and in theaters of all sizes.”

This Inclusion Rider was conceived and created by the DG’s Business Affairs department, working with a special task force of DG staff, Committee, and Council Members. In addition to Johnson and Green, the task force is comprised of Aisha DeCoteau, Ty Defoe, Chisa Hutchinson, Todd London, Emily Mann, Ralph Sevush, Emmanuel Wilson, Doug Wright, and Amy VonMacek. “I hope to see every writer and every producer I know rocking a ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Stop Asian Hate’ decal on their profile pics putting this rider to use. It’s a great way to put principles into practice,” said task force member Chisa Hutchinson.

In addition to encouraging compliance with these principles, the Rider is an acknowledgment by the producer that an author exercising their approval rights to achieve these goals is both reasonable and permissible. “Some may feel the Rider doesn’t go far enough, while others may feel it goes too far,” said Ralph Sevush, the Guild’s Executive Director of Business Affairs. “Ultimately, though, this Rider is a statement by the producer and the author of their mutual intent to work together to address this issue, and it provides both producers and dramatists with a starting point to begin this conversation and move forward.”

“The Inclusion Rider gives authors a much needed tool- easily tailored for each writer and producer- to ensure equity in any given production, shared Emily Mann, member of the Guild’s Council. “However the individual artists and producers wish to use it- as a reference, as a way to start a dialogue, or as part of a contract-the Inclusion Rider promises to be a useful instrument in our quest for powerful change in the American theater.”

Please note that the Inclusion Rider is a living document which will evolve as we move toward a more equitable and inclusive industry. To learn more about the Inclusion Rider, please contact the Business Affairs Helpdesk at www.dramatistsguild.com/helpdesk. For additional resources, please visit www.dramatistsguild.com/inclusion.

Since its inception in 1912, The Dramatists Guild of America has been the professional association for playwrights, librettists, lyricists and composers writing for the American stage. With over 8,000 members around the world, The Guild is guided by a governing council of writers who each give their time, interest and support to advance the rights of dramatists everywhere, including the right for dramatists to own and control their own copyrighted work. The Guild’s advocacy, programs, events, publications and other services provide dramatists with the resources, the community and the support they require to protect their property, their livelihoods, and their unique voices in the American theatre.

 

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