Hennepin Theatre Trust Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

Updated December 2022

In the 1920s, attorney Lena O. Smith argued the lawsuit that eventually led to the desegregation of the Pantages Theatre, now owned by Hennepin Theatre Trust. Smith said, “I’m used to doing the right thing without regard for myself. Of course, battles leave their scars, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.” We take her statement to heart as we place anti-racism and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the core of our work.

Our land acknowledgement

Hennepin Theatre Trust would like to acknowledge that our buildings sit on the traditional land of the Dakota people. Before Hennepin Avenue existed as an urban artery, it was a footpath that connected the Mississippi River and Bde Maka Ska. We recognize the impact of history on our community and our responsibility in cultivating change and driving solutions.

Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion

Hennepin Theatre Trust commits to anti-racist work and to being an anti-racist organization. We commit to celebrating diversity in all its aspects, ensuring equity and establishing a safe and inclusive environment for all.

We will continue to examine ourselves and our structures to ensure we are free of bias and inequitable practices. We will create welcoming spaces that invite people to be their authentic selves. Hennepin Theatre Trust vows to fight all manners of oppression, injustice, exclusion and hate, and stands in solidarity with those who face these issues. We will help create opportunities for economic equity, dismantle systems of oppression and advocate for more inclusive policies.

Our promise to artists, partners and employees

We resolve to nurture the employee experience and continue to examine and improve our hiring, board recruiting and vendor selection practices, consistent with our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We commit to providing more economic opportunities for artists and arts organizations and continuing to include their voices in the design of our programs.

Our promise to students

Students are our future leaders. We resolve to cultivate spaces where all students develop their artistic skills, build confidence, feel safe engaging in difficult conversations and practice critical thinking. We will build curriculum that combats racism and deals with relevant topics sometimes seen in Broadway productions, including racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and more. We will expand our programs to reach more students from communities traditionally underrepresented in the theater industry.

Our promise to our audiences and to the people of Minnesota

We resolve to establish a welcoming atmosphere wherever we engage with people. We commit to exploring more opportunities for people who have historically not engaged with our programs or our spaces. The stories we tell on and off the stage will better reflect the diverse experiences of our audiences and the people of Minnesota. We will encourage the free sharing of ideas.

Looking forward

Our efforts require active listening, self-reflection and a commitment to continuous improvement. We commit to holding ourselves accountable by regularly reporting progress on our diversity, equity and inclusion goals with our Board of Directors. We will ensure the work is included in our strategic plan, annual budgets, employee performance goals and more.

We resolve to create a future that is more just for all.