The ODC community values equity, love, and accountability. We strive to lift each other up and hold gratitude for one another. We acknowledge, however, that ODC, as an institution, has benefited tremendously from white privilege and its associated cultural and structural practices. We invite you to join us as we make conscious and dismantle, these inherited practices and policies both within ourselves and in our community. Any form of retaliation against someone who has expressed concern about any form of harassment refused to partake in harassing behavior, made a harassment complaint, or cooperated in a harassment investigation, is strictly prohibited. A complaint made in good faith will under no circumstances be grounds for disciplinary action.
Our Equity Working Group is a group of members of ODC staff from every department (including faculty, accompanists, and company dancers), contractors engaged in long-term projects at ODC, community partners (including ODC tenants and licensed partner organizations), and volunteer special guests who meet on a weekly basis to share and discuss how to make the ODC community and dance at large more equitable.
The Equity Working Group collectively identified the tools we are using to help guide this work as follows:
• To value other people’s opinions, listen to them, and be present.
• To be open-minded, and lead with an open heart.
• To create a brave space where individuals can be free, feel safe, be heard, and fully express who they are.
• To check in to make sure these spaces are truly safe.
Be active in our community
- Recognize our own power to build a company, an organization, and a community that fights racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and all intolerant beliefs and actions.
- Constantly recommit ourselves to policies and practices that promote anti-racism, anti-misogyny, anti-homophobia, anti-xenophobia, anti-ableism, and all other intolerant beliefs and actions.
- Continue educating ourselves on experiences outside of our own and be cognizant of the fact that every individual comes into our community with a different experience and perspective.
- Call out to call in structural and status quo institutions that marginalized populations and work to dismantle them.
Become more self-aware
- Listen and take ownership of our own internal fear(s). Speak openly and honestly, especially when it is hard.
- Acknowledge the spaces where we have privilege and power, so that we can step back and help provide space for those who do not.
Acknowledgement of Place
ODC is on the ancestral lands of the Ramaytush People in Yelamu. We pay respects to elders past and present, who are still here and part of our community. We recognize that regenerative land management is not new, but is a continuation of practices from Native cultures and from our own ancestors. It is our responsibility to steward the land with care, as our elders did before us.
ODC is donating $.50 for each in-person ticket (seat) sold to all performances at ODC Theater in 2022 to the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone. We encourage you to make land tax donations to The Associate of Ramaytush Ohlone at ramaytush.org and to learn more about the land where you reside at native-land.ca.
Current Equity-Informed Actions and Programming
For 2022 and 2023, and with an eye to the future, Founder and Artistic Director Brenda Way has welcomed Amy Seiwert, Dexandro Montalvo and Sonya Delwaide to be Guest Choreographers for our 11-member dance company. Additionally Way is in discussion with more artists about commissions for next summer. As an organization with a collective artistic leadership structure, we would like to identify and cultivate a roster of leaders for the future for whom this organizational format is enticing.
With new funding from the California Arts Council, one of ODC’s key artistic development programs returned, the pandemic-halted PILOT program. This eleven-week professional development and artistic mentorship program has served 6 choreographers and their 30 dancer/artistic collaborators for over 30 years for a participation fee which covered a portion of our staff engagement and a tiny proportion of the space overhead. This year the program was recognized as a Small Business Incubator by the CAC and received its first underwriting. Therefore, this post-pandemic PILOT iteration is now offered free of charge to the artist and offers expanded consulting services in marketing, PR, and production, along with studio/monetary stipends. We will make every effort to sustain funding for this program.
In 2022, Creative Director Chloë L. Zimberg expanded the Theater’s artistic leadership with a Multi-Curator Platform. The multi-curator platform enables ODC Theater to better represent the dance ecosystem’s diversity of genres and identities, as well as assure the inclusion of underrepresented voices within ODC Theater and the broader field. This curatorial shift also aligns with ODC’s beginnings – prior to appointing its first director more than 18 years ago, ODC Theater programs were developed collaboratively by its 12-member collective. For ODC Theater’s inaugural season of collaborative curation, SF-based artist Charles Slender-White and Oakland-based artist amara tabor-smith curated the 2022 State of Play Festival and fall performances. SF-based artist Maurya Kerr and Oakland-based artist Leyya Mona Tawil curated the 2023 State of Play Festival which featured a mixture of 11 evening-length presentations and work-in-progress showings over 12 days.
ODC Theater’s Rental Discount Initiative is designed to avail up-and-coming artists with the space to develop. A diverse panel of practitioners selects the recipients for 50% or 100% rental discounts for approximately 19 weeks in 2022 & 2023s, focusing on artists that identify as BIPOC, female, LGBTQIA2S+, and/or part of a disability community. ODC Theater’s 2023 Rental Discount Initiative cohort includes a rather astounding range of regional talent supporting over 14 productions.
Queer and BIPOC Space Residency Initiative
With the aim of supporting Bay Area artists to ignite new momentum in their movement practices and careers, ODC originally partnered with the Sam Mazza Foundation for the Queer and BIPOC Space Residency Initiative, which offered 30 hours of free studio space to emerging BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ dance artists. With the funding landscape and priorities changing and the need increasing, our 2023 cohort was completely subsidized by ODC. This residency does not require any final product or performance and can be utilized to invest in traditional practices/develop new routines, create new work, or simply explore dedicated space in which to move. Each year three Guest Curators help develop, then review applications and curate the cohort of selected artists. We are investigating ways to not only fund and continue the program, but serve it more deeply. odc.dance/qbipoc-space-residency
Arts Access: in support of developing audiences and dance fans
- Serve 1,305 low-income patrons with subsidized Arts Access performance tickets (an investment valued at approximately $53,735), and ODC’s anniversary Block Party provided 755 people free day-long performance and class programming free-of-charge and engaged neighborhood businesses in exhibiting their wares.
- ODC subsidized $31,570 for 4,816 adult class enrollments (3,134 in-person and 1,682 online) through its Arts Access Program and $26,200 in scholarship funds to youth and teen students during the 2021-2022 academic year.