TCG's 501c3, Nonpartisanship, and Bipartisanship Policy

Why this policy? In pursuit of our vision of a better world for theatre and better world because of theatre, TCG is committed to a bipartisan advocacy strategy and a nonpartisan community strategy in service of a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive theatre field. As a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, TCG also follows the prohibitions against directly or indirectly engaging in political campaign activity. The following policy document is intended to support our staff in both adhering to our 501(c)(3) obligations, and resolve areas of tension between our bipartisan/ nonpartisan strategies and our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

What is our commitment to EDI? In both our Internal and External Core Values Statements, TCG is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion; and we are committed to dismantling systems of oppression which have privileged social identity groups that include, but are not limited to, white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, middle-aged, socioeconomically advantaged, non-disabled, neurotypical, Christian, and/or a U.S. Citizen. This commitment manifests in external programs, like our EDI Institute and At the Intersections programming, and internal programs, like our EDI Work Group and EDI Trainings.

What are our responsibilities as a 501(c)(3)? From the IRS’ website: “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.” See below for resources that provide greater context and detail on this prohibition.

What is our bipartisan advocacy strategy? Our bipartisanship advocacy strategy means that TCG staff works with members of both political parties, Democrat and Republican, without favoring one party over the other. In our communications and visits to Capitol Hill, we make sure to connect theatre people with their legislators, regardless of party affiliation, to advocate for core arts advocacy issues. In our messaging around these issues, we frame our approach in ways likely to engender support across both sides of the Congressional aisle. Our advocacy is always focused on issues, never on parties, even when political parties or elected officials take oppositional stances on those issues.

What is our nonpartisan community strategy? To be nonpartisan is to avoid bias toward a particular political group. Nonpartisanship respects the diversity of opinions of our members, staff, volunteers, and everyone we serve. Our nonpartisanship community strategy also strengthens our ability to advocate across party lines and access diverse community leaders and funding sources. As with our bipartisan advocacy strategy, nonpartisanship does not mean that we’re silent about issues that impact our mission and organizational values of equity, diversity, and inclusion, but that we believe we can be most effective by addressing them without the bias of partisanship.

What are the perceived tensions between EDI and our nonpartisan/bipartisan strategies? Nonpartisanship is not the same thing as neutrality. We recognize that politicians and political parties advocate for and implement policies that cause harm to our communities. In order to follow the 501(c)(3) prohibitions against campaign intervention and strengthen our nonpartisan community strategy, we oppose those policies, but not those political parties or specific politicians. We recognize that the lines between policy and party are not always clear. To support building our shared analysis on these issues, we’ll develop examples of effectively striking this balance.

501(c)(3) campaign intervention resources: The following resource list is meant to provide further context about 501(c)(3) policy and interpretive norms to deepen our shared analysis of these issues. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor replace our internal processes for resolving questions about our policies listed above.

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