For over 28 years, The Unusual Suspects has partnered with communities across Los Angeles to provide young people and families with the opportunity to discover and celebrate their unique voices by expressing themselves through theater.
Our goal has always been to help make the world a more hopeful, equal, and safe place. In recent weeks, our Teaching Artists have brought it to the Board’s attention that there is more work to be done to nurture and serve the well-being of our students, families, Teaching Artists, and Staff. We agree that we must not only create a space where youth from diverse backgrounds can feel seen, heard, and known, but also ensure the spaces we create take into consideration the institutional barriers that impact their everyday lives. We acknowledge that our organization has inadvertently enabled harmful educational and political systems, despite the best of intentions when we were founded nearly three decades ago. Times have changed, and so have we. Our Board, Staff, and Teaching Artists, in cooperation with the communities we serve and other stakeholders, are committed to continuing the transformative work necessary to reflect our values as an anti-racist, abolitionist, and anti-colonial organization.
We are actively working to improve communications around our organization’s operations, decision-making, and programming development among our Teaching Artists and Staff. We are an organization in the midst of a pandemic recovery and rebuilding efforts; this is a moment of great change, and communication is incredibly important. We take responsibility for the negative impact of mishandled or delayed communications around employee departures, organizational concerns, and our commitment to fostering an anti-racist, abolitionist, and anti-colonial organization. We regret the pain and confusion this has caused, and we are committed to doing better.
The Board is also committed to its continuing efforts to better reflect the communities we serve by onboarding new board members with diverse intersectional identities. We acknowledge that a lack of clarity on how to apply for board membership does not promote inclusion, and we commit to making our board membership process more open and transparent. We also commit to ensuring our future fundraising initiatives more closely reflect our fundamental belief in empowering our young people.
Our work would not be possible without the dedicated Teaching Artists who deliver programming to our youth and families. We acknowledge that the organization must do better to incorporate intersectionality of social identities and experiences into our organization’s practices and policies, and are committed to ensuring PGM/BIPOC/SWANA Teaching Artists are not asked to draw on personal experiences to support student learning related to oppression, power, and control, and have the resources they need to thrive and succeed.
We are immeasurably grateful to our Teaching Artists and Staff for doing the hard labor