The Festival Theaterformen presents 15-20 plays every year. The plays are the core of our work, and they often address social issues. As the organisers, we ensure that the festival provides a good framework for this. In so doing, we think it is important to take a critical approach to discrimination. The following text describes what we are doing in order to achieve this.
Valid as of April 2019
Our actions as a festival and as individual people should be guided by our artistic standards and, at best, should be complemented and mutually reinforced by these. Our standards apply both internally and externally: to ourselves, our festival, the artists and the audience. We want to give the art we are presenting an appropriate framework. For us this means, inter alia, engaging critically with issues of power and discrimination and positioning ourselves as anti-discriminatory. Discrimination, such as racism, sexism, classism and ableism, takes place on an individual, structural and institutional level – our aim is to counteract this on all these levels.
The Festival Theaterformen ought to be a space of solidarity, a space in which people can debate issues and come together without having to be the same as everybody else and without having to conform.
We aim to be responsive to feedback, observations, advice and criticism, and to take action against various forms of discrimination.
We are prepared to reassess and criticise our working structures as well as to recognise our own multifaceted entanglement in discriminatory conditions. We are engaged in a process of repeatedly reassessing our actions and looking for better ways of dealing with discrimination. In so doing, we engage external support, feedback and critical voices and take these responses seriously. We are publishing our reflections here in order to ensure the transparency of our intentions and open them up to criticism and debate.
The current Festival Theaterformen team will remain in place until July 2020, and then there will be a change in the artistic management. Our process of engaging critically with discrimination and our framework for action will also cover this period. This means particular issues – such as quotas – are not addressed here, although in principle we support these. The individual team members aim to translate the knowledge acquired here into future work contexts and implement it at a later date.
Our intention is to counteract discrimination in programme planning, selection, recruitment policy and public relations work – in all areas of our work that we can actively shape. Our aim is to configure the Festival Theaterformen in such a way that it allows people to work together constructively as allies. In cases of discrimination, we are on the side of the individuals affected, and our actions will be guided by this.
It is important to us to use any room for manoeuvre we have. Because this is limited by personal, institutional, financial and temporal factors, we cannot meet our standards in every aspect. That is why we regularly review our scope for action. This involves critically reflecting on our privileges and employing this reflection in our anti-discriminatory approach.
We as the festival team are currently undergoing further anti-discrimination training. Since April 2018 we have been running regular workshops within the team together with the IDB | Institut für diskriminierungsfreie Bildung (Institute for Discrimination-Free Education) (Berlin). This collaboration with the IDB extends to reflecting on working processes within the institution and includes analysing public relations work, dealing with discrimination within the work of the festival, and formulating possible strategies for the future. The anti-discrimination guidelines presented here will be evaluated by both the festival team and the IDB and, where necessary, reformulated. This will happen after both the 2019 festival and the 2020 festival.
Further anti-discrimination training initiatives can be suggested at any time by any member of the festival team. We facilitate and – with prior consultation – financially support participation by individual members in external further training. We organise joint further training for the whole team. Thus far, team members have taken part in workshops on critical whiteness, empowerment, classism, gender-appropriate language, discrimination-free international cultural work and surtitling for deaf people.
Working Environment and Recruitment Policy
We value a working environment that is sensitive to discrimination and in which colleagues and artists can live and work together in solidarity. We encourage people with experience of discrimination to contact us, and we endeavour to offer a discrimination-free working environment.
Working together with a sensitivity to discrimination is obligatory for the festival team. Conflicts must be resolved cooperatively and may – if desired by the persons affected – be addressed and, in the best-case scenario, dispelled in the monthly awareness meeting attended by all team members. In the case of conflicts which require external support, e.g. in the form of mediation, the festival management is responsible for obtaining this.
In order to absorb feedback and criticism into the continual critical process and to guarantee the further development of our organisation, we create opportunities for feedback. We incorporate every submission into the process and respond to them all. All team members are made aware of this and are given the opportunity to offer their comments at the awareness meeting. The team then debates the case-specific steps that need to be taken. It is incumbent upon the artistic director of the Festival Theaterformen to determine the subsequent course of action. The contact person is the festival’s artistic director Martine Dennewald (firstname.lastname@example.org). In cases of conflict, the IDB | Institut für diskriminierungsfreie Bildung (Institute for Discrimination-Free Education) can offer advice: email@example.com, contacts: Josephine Apraku and Dr. Jule Bönkost.
Collaboration with other Organisations
When the Festival Theaterformen collaborates with another organisation, we check whether organisations with people of colour or disabled people are involved in the work context relevant to the respective project, as we prefer to work with these. Collaborations are planned with a view to both sides bringing added value and are evaluated on this basis.
The efforts of the Festival Theaterformen to create a discrimination-free working environment would not be conceivable without the work of many organisations which operate either exclusively or primarily within this field. The festival would like to work, as far as possible, in alliance with these organisations.
The Festival Theaterformen will provide an awareness team which will be visible and accessible at the events during the festival periods. The awareness team is the first point of contact for people affected by discrimination or witnesses to discriminatory behaviour. Where necessary, the awareness team will offer those affected support during the festival. The awareness team has direct contact with the festival management. The awareness team is at the disposal of all artists and participants.
For theatre projects commissioned by the festival locally, we also offer critical monitoring of the individual production processes. Throughout the rehearsal, performance and post-processing period, the international directors and local participants will have an external contact person in matters of discrimination. The artistic director can provide contact details for this person.
Approach in Concrete Cases of Discrimination
In cases of discrimination we are, in principle, on the side of the individuals affected. Our actions are guided by the perspective, desires and situational needs of those affected. In cases of conflict, we engage third parties to act on behalf of those affected. We provide protection and ensure opportunities for retraction. Our aim is to work in solidarity with one another and with the individuals affected and reassure ourselves that we are acting in the interests of the person who has experienced discrimination. We take the necessary self-protection measures. Actions liable to prosecution will be reported.