An Open Letter From the Past, Present, and Future Resident Companies of Victory Gardens

To the Victory Gardens Board of Directors:

We, the past, present and future resident companies at Victory Gardens, are writing to express our frustration at the lack of clarity, transparency, and generosity given to Victory Gardens’ Staff and Resident artists. We stand in solidarity with Ken-Matt Martin, the Resident Artists , and staff members of Victory Gardens’ Theatre. We are equally troubled by this board’s lack of leadership, and even more troubled by its pattern of blatant and ongoing disrespect towards Roxanna and Ken-Matt, and the repeated dismissal of the Playwright’s Ensemble and staff.

As many of us are BIPOC and/or queer lead companies, who, like Victory Gardens, have missions valuing inclusion and civic change, it has been especially painful to witness how this board has consistently undermined one of only three Black men to hold an artistic leadership position in a major American theater. It is clear that despite the “steadfast commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion” that the Victory Gardens board made in 2020, little has shifted in the board’s operating practices and culture.

We, like the rest of the Chicago theatre community, all care deeply about Victory Gardens. We value your work and dedication to anti-racist and inclusive season planning, and the space that Victory Gardens has made for all of us now and will again in the future. We do not take this action lightly. This action represents the loss of a cherished theatrical home; regardless, we cannot excuse the current board’s actions. We will not be silent, and we will not condone the injustices we witness.

We sincerely hope that you will follow the demands of the staff and resident artists and do your part in saving this nationally beloved institution. Two experienced and well-respected Black leaders have worked tirelessly to help this theater to live up to its stated values of integrity, diversity, innovation and excellence. Do not fail them.

In expressing our frustration, disappointment and anger, we know that we speak not just for ourselves but for our colleagues and partners in Chicago and across the country. On a national level, our industry has historically looked to Victory Gardens as a model for how non-for-profit institutions create change not through their words, but with their actions. This is what brought us to choose to take residence and rent from your space. We will not return until you respond to our demands.

We look forward to your action and mobility.

The past, present and future resident companies of Victory Gardens
Sideshow Theatre Company
Firebrand Theatre
and Teatro Vista

BIAS ALERT: Rescripted’s editor-in-chief and founder Regina Victor is also the artistic director of Sideshow Theatre Company

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