One of the most important aspects of the TCG National Conference is the opportunity for networking and coalition-building. That's why at the 2014 TCG National Conference: Crossing Borders, we created space for both Role-Based and Identity Affinity Groups to convene. To begin with, we solicited proposals for NEW Identity Affinity Groups from the theatre field, and we also made space for Role-Based Affinity Groups as in conferences past.
Role-Based Affinity Groups:
TCG curated job title-based Affinity Groups for theatre practitioners to meet on Thursday, from 3:00-4:15pm. As in past years, we provided the opportunity for theatre people to meet based on their professional role in theatre. The Role-based Affinity Groups included: artistic leaders, associate artistic leaders, board/trustees, managing leaders, associate managing leaders/general managers, individual artists, development staff, marketing/communications staff, education staff, literary managers/dramaturgs, production managers and more. Attendees have the opportunity to opt into the Role-Based Affinity Group of their choice through the registration process.
Identity Affinity Groups:
While Conference attendees have always come together around common interests and goals, this year TCG created space for Affinity Groups based on how attendees self-identify in four areas of identity: gender, ability, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity. Proposals for Identity Affinity Groups were solicited from the field prior to the Conference.
Why Identity Affinity Groups? Building on past Conference gatherings such as TCG’s Young Leaders of Color, Latinos in Theatre (Latina/o Theatre Commons) and Intergenerational Leaders of Color, we're curating opportunities to gather around additional areas of identity. These Identity Affinity Groups empower networking and coalition-building for theatre practitioners who self-identify as part of these groups; providing opportunities for peer-connection and mobilization to dismantle long-standing inequities and structural barriers in our theatre field and larger culture. After four distinct session times dedicated to gender, ability, sexual orientation and race/ethnicity, we provided an opportunity to gather all Identity Affinity Groups in one room for a general Check-In, to share experiences, learnings and possible next steps.
But what about the other ways I identify? Several areas of TCG’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, including our demographic measurement tool REPRESENT, are focused on eight areas of identity, power and privilege: ability/disability, age, class/educational background, gender, place of origin, race/ethnicity, religion/spirituality and sexual orientation. We recognize that this is just a beginning, and that our areas of focus will shift and expand as our work continues. We also know that these areas of identity are deeply interconnected, but believe it is often valuable to focus conversation and mobilization on discrete areas of identity.
What is the role of allies? TCG follows the definition of an ally as "someone who understands the many layers of oppression, can identify positions of privilege that they hold, and actively works to rectify inequity." While the role of allies is essential in advancing diversity, inclusion and equity, TCG believes it is essential to create safe space for conversation among those who self-identify as part of these Identity Affinity Groups. We therefore strongly encouraged allies to propose their own gatherings during these session time slots.
If you have any questions about the Identity Affinity Groups, please contact TCG’s Associate Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Elena Chang.