Reform at Performance Garage
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On August 10th, 2020 a collection of current and former staff sent a letter to the Performance Garage Board of Directors calling for urgent change. As of now, we have received no indication that the board is willing to engage in a dialogue. We need you, the community stakeholders, to join the call for reform. Together, we ask the Board of Directors to implement the following demands to create a safer and more equitable environment at the Performance Garage:
- Due to sexual misconduct allegations against Co-Founder and Board President Victor Keen, we appeal to him to immediately resign as President of the Board of Directors. We stand in solidarity with those who have come forward with reports of sexual misconduct from PlayPenn. Further, the entire staff and board must participate in sexual harassment training and implement a more robust policy and protocol for sexual harassment at Performance Garage.
- Move forward with the strategic plan initiative to bring on an Executive Director. We ask that someone from the Greater Philadelphia area be selected via open application and with a consensus from the entire staff and board. The budget must be adjusted now to pay to bring on additional leadership and to create a new opportunity for racial and economic diversity on the staff.
- We ask that at least 2-3 performing artists be invited to the board. Ideally these members will be well-acquainted with the dance landscape of Philadelphia, preferably with representatives from the BIPOC community and/or from different socioeconomic backgrounds. There are currently no performing artists on the Board of Directors of the Performance Garage.
- Reinstate annual interviews for each staff member to provide an opportunity for contract negotiation. Pay structure should be re-examined to ensure that salaries are commensurate with time and responsibilities regardless of race/ethnicity/gender. Currently, two male employees are paid more per hour than any of the womxn on staff.
- Open the DanceVisions residency to all Philadelphia artists via a free, public application. Every artist to date has been chosen internally without any community input. This furthers the insular nature of the program and only permits those who can already afford to perform in the space to advance. Starting next year, a diverse panel of artists should select the resident artist and be compensated for their time.
- Give renters greater autonomy in the space. The artists who work in the space should be treated with respect while rehearsing, taking class, teaching, performing, or presenting work. Staff should no longer make curtain speeches at events the Performance Garage has not programmed nor view/comment on rehearsals and classes without direct permission from the artists.
- Allow all patrons to use the floor as it is. Many patrons of the Performance Garage come into the space to rehearse queer and/or Black dance forms. The Performance Garage should no longer police hip hop, breaking, tap, drag performers, and many other queer/Black artists in order to protect a floor designed for ballet and white modern dance forms. The space must be adjusted to meet our community’s needs.
- Remove “inner-city youth” from all descriptions of the YouthMoves program. The term is an outdated and offensive reference to tokenism. The young Black and POC artists of Franklin Learning Center, as well as the educators/choreographers for this program, should be given the same respect as all of our other patrons and artists. Inviting these young artists to perform at the gala should be done for the same reasons other artists are invited to perform - because their work is excellent.
- Update marketing and promotional materials (print and website) to include all body types. The Performance Garage has consistently reinforced the idea that dance is for thin, athletic bodies through selective display of community members. It is time you represent everyone who walks through your doors.
- Revise and re-release a statement regarding your commitment to anti-racist work and how you have been complicit in white supremacist structures and practices. Announce to the community the changes taking place as outlined above, and pay your staff to complete anti-racism and anti-oppression training.
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