Basement Arts is a student theater organization housed within the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance’s Department of Theatre and Drama. The organization exists to create, develop, and produce innovative and inclusive student-produced theatre by allowing students from across campus to execute all aspects of the theatrical production process. Basement Arts offers all performances free of charge to the University of Michigan and greater Ann Arbor communities.
Basement Arts produces 6-10 shows a semester that are directed, designed, performed, and managed by students. Basement Arts additionally presents one-night-only performance events in our LateNight Series. Basement Arts works to engage students and organizations from all over the University of Michigan campus to ensure that opportunities are available to all. Basement Arts is committed to promoting an anti-racist space and to uplifting the voices and stories of marginalized groups. Basement Arts does not discriminate on the basis of identity such as race, national origin, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, disability, religion, etc. in its membership or activities.
Basement Arts recognizes the injustices and inequalities being faced by BIPOC theatermakers in the theater community. We applaud and uplift statements such as those made by We See You White American Theatre, and we fully commit to being an anti-racist organization to ensure that future groups who come through Basement Arts will lead and participate with justice, integrity, compassion, and love.
We also want to fully acknowledge our part in historical oppression throughout our time at the University of Michigan. Such offenses include appointing members to organizations with a history of offensive racism such as the Order of Angell, our failure to challenge white supremacy culture and privilege, and our failure to acknowledge the land we are so grateful to work on.
This land has been stewarded and grown by Niswi Ishkodewan Anishinaabeg: The Three Fire People who are Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawami along with their neighbors the Seneca, Delaware, Shawnee, and Wyandot nations. Michigan is named for Michigami, the world’s largest freshwater system that has been used and cared for by these nations and more. We acknowledge that our organization stands on land that has been gained through the exploitation of Indigenous peoples, and we commit to uplifting stories and voices of Indigenous peoples to aid in their struggle for justice.
Our long-term vision at Basement Arts is to put the voices and stories of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized communities first in both the content we produce and the spaces we create with artists. Basement Arts believes in
the power of theatre as an art form
an artistic process informed by robust conversations with people from diverse perspectives
the pursuit of excellence through ethical leadership and through accountability to each other, the field at large, and the audiences we serve
supporting and nurturing artists
operating with integrity throughout all aspects of the organization
Basement Arts is committed to a change in process. We want to create a process that honors more equitable principles. Listed below are just a few of our principles that we strive to uphold:
Beginning rehearsal processes with land acknowledgement
Creating strict protocols for disrupting any and all racist incidents that occur during rehearsal or performance processes
Curating seasons with at least one show dedicated to centering/uplifting BIPOC voices
Infusing community engagement into the process as a requirement
Appointing a qualified DEI Advisor who will be available to any and all in the organization for guidance on cultural context in shows, workshops for anti-racism, dramaturgical work relating to DEI, etc
Our lists are not complete. Basement Arts has a responsibility to our community to be as thorough with our work as possible. Our processes are ongoing in the effort to uplift and center marginalized voices. We know that the theater community as a whole has a long way to go in becoming a truly equitable space for all. We make these commitments and statements in the effort to facilitate this process at the learning level, and we join this anti-racist cause with full force.
The Artistic Team at Basement Arts