Yesterday, a very troubling concern was brought to our attention.
During and following an event in June of 2016, before the formal founding and structuring of the National Women’s Theatre Festival, a community member was photographed by a former senior staff member and photoshopped without their consent to misrepresent their physical appearance. This image was then publicly distributed on social media and has recently been in recirculation. The former senior staff member has been separated from the organization since October of 2019.
While this incident was brought to our attention after our transition to new leadership in late 2019, we have realized that our lack of transparency, communication, and demonstrated action in response has resulted in those affected feeling unheard and uncared for. We recognize that our response to this incident has been insufficient and has caused additional harm.
We want to first and foremost sincerely apologize as a company for the unprofessional and unethical photoshopping of anyone without their consent. Photoshopping images to alter physical appearance is not a practice that the National Women’s Theatre Festival engages in and in no way reflects the values of our company.
In June of 2021, we embraced our new identity as the National Women\’s Theatre Festival. This new era allows us to continually reevaluate the ethics surrounding our practices as a change-focused organization in a deeply flawed industry. The National Women’s Theatre Festival welcomes learning, growth, and taking responsibility for past mistakes paired with the intention and determination to do better for both our community and industry.
Moving forward, our internal staff and Board of Directors are in conversation to immediately implement the following:
An explicitly-stated photography policy within the WTF Standards prohibiting the editing of raw images without informed consent
More accessible means for the WTF community to voice concerns and complaints without fear of retribution
Revised language to all feedback surveys for artists and audiences that affirm our values around inclusion and consent, as well as an explicitly-stated open-door policy for concerns (anonymous or otherwise)
Internal policy steps for follow-up to concerned parties to prioritize communication, transparency, and accountability
WTF recognizes that these steps are part of the ongoing process towards improved policy and company-wide action that align with our values, and we take full responsibility that these steps were not taken sooner.
For any questions or concerns regarding this statement and these steps, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Know that we’re listening.
Yours in Parity,
The Board of Directors & Staff Leadership of the National Women’s Theatre Festival