Northrop MOVES Online: Our next steps to make Northrop more inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible

Jul 01, 2020

Welcome to this week’s Northrop MOVES Online. I hope this letter finds you well and looking forward to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. It has been over 100 days since we canceled events and shuttered our building due to COVID-19. While we are not able to host events or welcome audiences in person during this time, our work has never stopped. I am excited to share with you an update on one initiative in particular.

In July of 2019, we formed a cross-departmental committee to address issues of equity and accessibility at Northrop, made up of seven members with representatives from administration, programming, marketing, ticketing, production, development, and front of house. This committee was charged with researching, testing, making recommendations, and facilitating change across several platforms including but not limited to physical space, digital space, hiring and retention, programming, and the audience experience. Each member was asked to serve a minimum one-year term, enroll in the Office of Equity and Diversity Certificate Program and they were given a budget to manage. The group was coined IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access Squad) and they began to evaluate where we were as an organization, and where we would like to go.

The committee has now completed their first year of work and—while the group never could have predicted how the world would change—members implemented several initiatives including an updated and expanded list of accessibility offerings. Additionally, they have made the following recommendations to leadership, each of which has been approved:

  1. Provide speech-translation services for people who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing for all performances of the 2020-2021 Northrop Presents season, preferably via live captioning service; and alternately via ASL interpreter.
  2. Improve Northrop hiring practices via four steps: 1) Develop inclusive job descriptions for all open positions by eliminating gendered language 2) Ensure there is a diverse pool of candidates before the selection process can start 3) Develop a uniform interview method and 4) Require all hiring managers to complete OED’s “Implicit Biases in Search and Selection Processes” workshop.
  3. Provide lactation space for lactating individuals who work, perform, study, teach, and visit Northrop, making incremental changes to existing space within Northrop
  4. Pilot use of the app LiveNote as an all-in-one accessibility solution to provide live captioning, program translations, and audio description for Northrop audiences.
  5. Provide non-English wayfinding and programmatic information for select programs in the upcoming Northrop Presents season, via printed and digital materials.

When the time is right and we can once again gather together, you will start to see the implementation of these initiatives. This work will never be done. We can always be better, and we are stronger when we do this work together. If you have thoughts for IDEAS, please reach out to the committee at nrpideas@umn.edu.

I have been continuously amazed by the innovative, creative ways that artists are sharing their work digitally during this unusual time. I hope you are following Northrop’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media channels for Daily Inspiration posts to keep you inspired and connected!

I look forward with great anticipation to the day when we can throw open our doors and welcome you back in person. In the meantime, please stay safe, healthy, connected, and inspired.

Gratefully,
Kari Schloner
Director of Northrop

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