STAGE A CHANGE is a group of theatre professionals who believe that all performers, regardless of race or colour, should have the opportunity to pursue a career in the performing arts. Our mission is to create more professional performance opportunities for artists of colour throughout Australia – we are changing the faces of theatre.
STAGE A CHANGE has a Three Spoke Plan, focussing our efforts in three areas - Artists Training, Industry Standards and Audience Engagement. We use the imagery of spokes on a wheel because all three areas must be engaged for the wheels of access and inclusion in the arts to move with impact.
Stage A Change has and will produce training programs to help aspiring artists discover the arts as a career. A rotating roster of directors, acting coaches, music directors, choreographers, agents etc. will facilitate these workshop style classes and professional artists will supplement training by engaging with students. Through this elite training program, aspiring artists who have been underserved by traditional training programs can begin to learn the skills necessary to be competitive in the industry at a professional standard.
We will continue to facilitate discussion and action with industry stakeholders to create ground- and glass-breaking industry standards with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion best practice. These efforts will continue to support more and more actors of colour being cast and creatives and crew finding access to professional stages. Through consultancy, strategic support, and open, candid discussion, Stage A Change has successfully helped casting directors, artistic directors, producers, and creatives update policies and create a framework for inclusive procedures, leading to more diverse, inclusive and equitable theatre sector.
By organically engaging culturally diverse and traditionally underrepresented communities, we can develop new audiences who are excited to see stories told onstage - not only their stories, but stories that authentically reflect Australia’s mulit-cultural demographics. The first steps are to create ongoing discussions and experiences that welcome a new audience into live theatre and the accessibility of the arts as a career. Next, we provide content and programming that will engage, but not patronize, the audience. As we remove the barriers preventing access, Stage A Change will continue to produce programming for under-represented communities.
Stage A Change offers Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategy and Consulting services to deliver action-focussed support to
DEI challenges, specifically within the performing arts sector.
Using global case studies and best practices, Stage A Change applies learned and lived experience enabling independent artists, theatre professionals and small- to commercial-sized organisations to develop, build, and execute a bespoke DEI plan to fit their project, vision, budget and goals.
Learning Labs are interactive, arts-based workshops designed to support arts workers as they imagine, build, and take action toward an industry powered by equity, access and inclusion for all humans. Each workshop ends with a clear action-item for participants to use in their arts practice immediately.
BUILDING AN INCLUSIVE ARTS PRACTICE
The time is now to acknowledge and address how unconscious bias, power dynamics and the lack of brave and safe spaces can undermine our best intentions within our theatre practice. Join Cessalee Stovall, founder of Stage A Change, for a 3-hour virtual interactive workshop to learn tools and practices to make your work inclusive, equitable, accessible and anti-racist.
An industry live stream, The Show is a Friday night chat with industry insiders to discuss all things theatre, diversity and action. Cessalee Stovall hosts the show, opening up the conversion about the state of our industry, what we've seen and heard, and what you, the listener, can do to Stage a Change for good! And you might even catch a bit of goss …you never know. New episodes coming soon.
We are gathering data to form a snapshot of the current industry mindset in relation to diversity and inclusion. Our attitudinal survey will help us understand the way creatives, performers and audience members understand and relate to diversity in the theatre. By using this data as a baseline, we'll be able to measure the effects of our work and continue to focus our efforts in the areas that require improvement.
In 2018, we held our inaugural Artist Training Program which attracted aspiring artists between the ages of 12-20.
This pilot program was made possible by generous funding from the Equity Innovation Grant and VCA. This collaborative
program brought 28 teaching artists, industry leaders, and university educators, and administrators together with the
singular goal of inspiring these young minds and introducing them to a lifetime in the arts. Each student participated
in classes including acting, vocal pedagogy, stage combat, ballet, spoken word poetry, dialect coaching, and many more.
In 2022 we will mount the full version of the Artist Training Program, expanding on several features of the 2018 program. In 2022 we will keep the forums and talk-back sessions for the artists as well as their support team. Often parents of IBPoC students, especially 1st or 2nd generation families, are just learning of the opportunities that await a child who wishes to pursue a career in the arts. This open conversation with professional artists, especially artists of colour, can often be the difference between encouraging and forbidding the pursuit of an arts education. Keeping our mentorship program alive, every participant will have a clear pathway to access teaching artists and the program director on a 1-on-1 basis.
One improvement for the next round is to ensure that at least 50% of our teaching artists are people of colour, giving each student a glimpse of their future reflected by the artists who lead them. To enhance the access, some masterclasses or talkbacks will be offered virtually with with artists of colour from other parts of the country, the US and UK.
STEM in the Arts is a transformative model of outreach, bridging the gap between artist access and audience engagement.
In our research with CALD communities, we quite often hear the same feedback from students. As children of recent migrants
to this country, the parents encouraged STEM careers, favouring practical “guaranteed” jobs over artistic passions that
were less likely to provide financial stability. From the perspective of the educators, particularly at the secondary level,
there is so much push to try to find a place for the arts within the STEM conversation, and often the arts are secondary to
more “important” subjects.
From these two challenges, Stage A Change has developed the STEM in the Arts program. Instead of trying to cram the arts into a mathematics and science-based curriculum and then hoping to show why the arts are important, rather we showcase the science, tech, engineering, and math, that exists innately in the arts and give those students who are pushed into a STEM career a taste of how they can put the STEM in the Arts, as opposed to the other way around.
We are currently seeking community partners for this program. Please send us a message if this is a good fit for you or someone you know.
In 2017 and 2018. Stage A Change Founder, Cessalee Stovall hosted two roundtables to discuss Diversity in Theatre. The first, a session for producers, directors and agents, was held in Deccember 2017. Representatives from GFO, Opera Australia, Disney, MEAA, VCA, Malthouse Theatre, MTC, Willin Centre, Ministry of Dance, Beat Entertainment and several independent directors and producers were in attendance. The second roundtable was hosted in March of 2018 and was for artists who identify as IBPoC. Both roundtables were raw and truthful and the outcomes formed the basis for the inaugural Artist Training Program in 2018.
Thanks to the generous funding from the Equity Innovation Grant, we launched our pilot training program in conjunction with The University of Melbourne’s VCA program. Our first cohort of students included 12 young performers from across greater Melbourne with a passion for the arts. Over 20 professional actors, tertiary educators and directors were involved with the 6-week program, offering classes including bodywork, storytelling, dialects, stage combat, vocal anatomy and more. Mentors worked with the students and continued to be a resource beyond the individual workshops and many have continued their connection today. Several Melbourne based dance, acting, and film training programs offered scholarships to the students upon completion of the program. Additionally, the students and their families were invited to attend theatre productions to increase their exposure to professional theatre.
Since 2018, Stage A Change Director, Cessalee Stovall, has been working with theatre companies, universities, producers and educators to help create and promote practices around diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) within the arts sector. Workshops have included the following topics:
Funding for the 2018 programming was made possible by the Equity Innovation Grant.
Stage A Change would like to thank the following individuals for their generous support.
W Jack Dunstan
Interested in becoming a partner or sponsor? Email: email@example.com
We'd love to hear from you!